recapturing an attitude of gratitude

We live in a world that is moving at breakneck speed. I don’t just mean the speed with which we are hurtling in our orbit around the sun, or the speed at which our planet is spinning. The pace of life itself seems to be accelerating,  enabled by advances in technology, innovations in organisational techniques, and even pressures to perform well and outperform others.

and if you are anything like me you get rather frustrated when things do not move as fast as you think they should. Right now I am experiencing ‘techno-angst’ caused by my computer running a necessary and important backup process while I am trying to do other things with it. My computer is definitely a bloke because it struggles with multitasking and everything is running slowly this morning as a result. Tasks which it could normally manage almost instantaneously are now preceded by animated cursors indicating that the computer is thinking about doing something. I have not bothered measuring how long these delays are, nor how much more slowly my work is being produced, but I would not be surprised if, over the course of the year, there were significant numbers of days being lost to employers and home life that are being accompanied by these animated icons.

We have assimilated technology and the instantaneous nature of communication to such an extent that we now get frustrated when it doesn’t operate at the expected speed. When our broadband connection runs slowly we grind of teeth in frustration. When our computer fails to multitask as well as we hope we experience steam coming out of our ears. When traffic does not flow at top speed we rant at it (either internally or verbally). When change does not take place as quickly as we would like we sigh and roll our eyes.

We forget that it was not so many years ago that all of this was the stuff of science fiction. I was commenting to someone yesterday that when Star Trek: the Next Generation first appeared on our TV screens and they were controlling computers with touchscreens I thought that this was somewhat fanciful. I now use a tablet computer in my daily life and even use it to preach from instead of pieces of paper! (There is always the frisson of excitement with the thought that the tablet might freeze or crash in the middle of the sermon and I will not have a backup plan. Living on the edge!) science-fiction films were computers were controlled by voice were considered to be at best visionary or even somewhat unlikely just a couple of years ago and now we talk to our mobile phones to discover information and I am dictating to my computer right now.

In the hymn Abide with Me there is a line: “change and decay in all around I see”. Many people still associate change with the K: it is seen as a bad thing. We would much rather not have to change so that we can carry on within our comfortable lives. Change is disturbing, disruptive and disorientating. At least it is if we view it negatively. Change for a hungry person that brings food is welcomed. Change for the homeless that brings accommodation is embraced. Change for those who are shackled by guilt that brings liberation is celebrated.

I have commented before in a bloggage that most of the world does not have access to the technology with which you are reading this. Many of them would not even dream of it because it is so far beyond their daily experience. So before I start ranting about the speed of my computer I should bear in mind that the majority of the people in this world do not even have access to a pocket calculator. Before I complain about being stuck in a traffic jam I should remember that billions of people travel by foot, all would never be able to save enough money to own their own vehicle. When I I’m frustrated that I have not got a signal on my mobile phone I should remember that even though there are probably more mobile phones in the world that people, most people in the world do not have access to them, or even a landline.

It’s all about recapturing that attitude of gratitude. I think it’s a lovely phrase because it strips off the tongue, but it’s an even better phrase because it reflects how God would have us live: grateful to him for all that we have, grateful for all the blessings that we experience, grateful for the people around us who stand beside us even in the worst of circumstances, grateful for Jesus.

and… Relax. Breathe. Smile.

Be blessed, be a blessing. Make it so (for ST:TNG fans you will understand that reference)


ITILTOE – toilet is out of order (see previous two days for context)

One of the worst things about atheism is that ultimately there is no one to be grateful to.

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