Irene Hall

Recently, the Lord has been teaching me that both “glass half full” and “glass half empty” people would be blessed by adopting a perspective less concerned with relative quantity, and more aware of miracles. It is a miracle that life-giving water exists, a miracle that glass can be fashioned to hold water for our use, and a miracle that we have nearly limitless access to both. I call this the “grateful to have a glass of water” point of view.

Seeing with an eye of humble, optimistic gratitude is seeing truth — things as they really are. It is God’s perspective, and it opens our souls to live with inner joy regardless of our circumstances.

Let me tell you a story.

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One year ago, my husband was almost done with his master’s degree and the money was gone. We needed a job fast. We’d had to take student loans, which we had vowed never to do. We were broke, in debt, and jobless. After working toward his dream job for two years, endless roadblocks left my husband no choice but to accept a high school teaching job instead, which was the very career he’d gone back to school in an attempt to leave behind. And it meant a move across the country.

After a three-day drive that left my pregnant ankles looking more like elephant trunks, we finally pulled up to a rundown home with a dilapidated yard and a filthy interior. Before we could think of moving any of our belongings inside, we had to deep clean the whole house: walls, floors, sinks, toilets, etc. My mother-in-law had to strip and scrape the kitchen floor with a putty knife to break away the crusted grime. We’d moved all the way out here for this.

Those are the true events, but telling myself the story this way has blocked me from feeling God’s Spirit and love. But as the Lord has lifted my vision, I’ve come to see what really happened.

So let me tell you the real story.

One year ago, my husband was almost done with his master’s degree and the money was gone. We needed a job fast. Through divine help, careful saving, and generous grants, we’d been able to pay for almost the whole thing without student loans. After much prayer, the Lord clearly guided my husband away from a new career that would have been hard on our family and inspired him to return to teaching. The best possible teaching position instantly opened to him as if by magic, with a very good salary and even a free house to live in!

After a three-day drive that my in-laws took time off work to help with, we finally pulled up to our new house, it was huge and had a big yard. The previous owners hadn’t cared for the home or yard well, so we cleaned very deeply before moving things in. This cleaning taught us so much about the house, and having my in-laws to help us was the biggest of blessings. We’ve made it clean and lovely, and have come to love this home.

Shifting my perspective was not an easy change, but it was necessary for me to find gratitude, happiness, and joy in our circumstances. In the words of Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.”

But, you may ask, why is it so much harder to lift the goblet than the bottle? It is because we all struggle to overcome the short-sightedness of the natural man in us. Paul teaches that “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God… because they are spiritually discerned” (1Corinthians 2:14). God’s tender mercies, His goodness and His grace, are spiritually discerned. As we shift our habits of perception to see with the eye of gratitude, we align ourselves with God’s truth.

I have seen God’s blessings poured out upon myself and my family as I have made a spiritual effort to perceive His hand in all things. Peace, joy, and understanding have blossomed more fully, and these fruits of the Spirit confirm that I’m not deluding myself with rose-colored glasses or foolish optimism. The Spirit bears witness of truth. And the truth is, as my long-time Palmer friend Carol Kenley reminds me in every Facebook post, that God is good.

Irene Hall grew up in Palmer and now lives near Cleveland, Ohio with her husband and three children. She spends her days nurturing and serving her family and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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