Women - myself included -- are frequently trying to impose some control on their desire to shop, with greater and lesser degrees of success. One strategy is to quit cold turkey, an almost guaranteed failure - trust me! Another is to link a new purchase to a desired behavioral change - perhaps weight loss. A new pair of shoes for every 5 pounds. The sophisticated version of gold stars and baseball cards.
And then there are the psychological tools we use on ourselves. My favorite is "All I need is…" "All I need is one more black skirt and then my wardrobe will be complete." (Although living with teenagers I have become attuned to the multiple varieties of black skirts!) "All I need are some beige heels." "Just one more scarf to accessorize." "I'll buy one more bracelet and wear it every day."
Except, of course, it never works that way. We're never satisfied with the quantity of our clothing, the size of our homes or the amount and frequency of the gifts God gives us.
The memory of singing Dayenu is still fresh in my mind. It's a lesson I need to continuously relearn. Would it really have been enough for us if the Almighty had taken us out of Egypt but not split the sea? Like our ancestors in the desert, we are constantly complaining, dissatisfied and waiting for the next "miracle" before we are happy, before we thank the Almighty.
Like our wardrobes, we feel our lives are incomplete and wait for total wish/dream fulfillment before we experience true gratitude.
Sure God has been good to me, but if only He would… enlarge my bank account, remodel my home, get my son into the right school, find good matches for my children, enlarge their bank accounts… Is it time to be grateful yet?
God doesn't need our prayers. And He doesn't get the warm fuzzies on account of our gratitude. It's all for us. We need to recognize our gifts and express our thanks, for two important reasons:
- If we live our lives always waiting for something new and different, ignoring the theme of Dayenu, we will never be happy. Even if we get what we (think we) want, we won't be happy because we'll have already moved on to yearning for the next thing that will really make us happy. The only way out of such a gloomy prognosis is to take pleasure in the moment, whatever that moment brings. This is the moment God has created especially for me. And I need to embrace it.
- If we aren't able to be grateful for the good we have, we will live compromised lives. If we don't appreciate all the gifts we have received from the Creator of the world, how can we appreciate the ones we receive from our parents, spouses, children, friends? Can we give? Can we care? Can we have deeply meaningful relationships with others if we aren't grateful for their giving? We may sometimes envy the takers but do we want to be them? Do we see them as fully realized beings? Gratitude is a cornerstone of relationships. Without it life is all about me, in its most unattractive form.
At many times in many ways we tend to be self-centered and demanding. We tend to lack gratitude. And we tend to miss the opportunity for greater joy and peace that it would afford us. We're always waiting for the next miracle, that magical thing or occurrence that will guarantee eternal satisfaction and pleasure. We're waiting for that "happily every after."
There's no need to wait; we can create our own. Isn't it time we all really said "Enough" - Dayenu?