It may seem such a simple thing, but it is something I have always had to work at. The Birthday Elf almost took back my third birthday because I wouldn't tell my Aunt Joy "thank you" for the present she brought. Stubborn little turkey, I was.
And so it remains! "Thank you" is common enough to my lips now-- it is common courtesy. But in the deeper places, I forget to be grateful for the imperfect. I forget the abiding truth that I know in quiet moments: gratitude can completely reshape frustration. And since life is rarely perfect (and often frustrating), I have to consciously remind myself of all the beautiful blessings in my world.
Life with a busy family sometimes feels like an exercise in futility. Do to be undone, speak to be unheard, remain steadfast and calm in the face of unrest and distraction. It goes to the heart of my greatest weaknesses. Some days I work myself ragged, some days I am guilty of being less than diligent, and somehow it always comes out the same: imperfect. I see "imperfect," equate it to "unworthy," and fall prey to discouragement. But in His mercy, the word of God bubbles to the surface of my mind: "For the creation was subjected to frustration (NAB uses "futility"), not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who created it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." (Romans 8:20-21) His hand is here! The question is, what do I do with the frustration?
Frustration is to be stewarded, just like any other gift. It can break me or purify me. In it is opportunity to either bless or curse, to be driven by anger or driven by reason, to be paralyzed in fear or to move forward in faith, to wait in the darkness or light a torch (see Isaiah 50:10-11). Whether I chose God's way or my own, the difference is often gratitude. Gratitude allows me to submit my efforts to all-sufficient grace, and see not imperfect fruit, but fruit not yet perfected.