From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Grateful for the Fleas

This is the post I was supposed to write for Thanksgiving. I've been thinking about this idea lately, enough that I want to write about it anyway.

I am a naturally very happy person. I tend not to think about the annoying or frustrating things very much, because I don't want them to get to me. I look for ways to go around or fix, at the expense of acknowledging when things really do feel annoying or frustrating. Not that there's been anything annoying or frustrating lately--in fact, things have been quite fabulous. But still, I want to look at the world with a clearer eye, and that includes the fleas.

Do you remember that moment in The Hiding Place? It's one of the moments that sticks out to me most all these years after reading the book. It's the moment when, after the two sisters have been incarcerated in a concentration camp, one sister tells the other that they still must have gratitude, even for the fleas infesting their clothes and beds, or what passes for clothing and bedding. The author is frankly a little appalled, and still full of righteous indignation and disgust at their entire situation and all the awful things that have happened to them, and to be asked to be grateful in the midst of all that seems wrong. But she listens to her sister, and they give a prayer of thanks, including for the fleas.

The fleas that keep the SS guards from wanting to come near them.

That's a very powerful lesson, I think. Being grateful for everything, even our metaphorical fleas, not only makes us more happy and peaceful, but can actually help us function and move forward more clearly.

There is a non-exaggeratedly infinite list of things I am genuinely grateful for. But today I want to try being grateful for the fleas.

I am grateful that this submission/querying journey is a long one. When I look back at who I was and what I knew when I started, I can see how disastrous it could have been for me to have early success. I simply didn't know enough to do things right. And I still don't, but now that I have time to look back on, it gives me perspective enough to know that I just need to keep learning, and as I grow more success will come.

I am grateful that my first novel wasn't immediately picked up. I still love that novel, and think it has potential, but I can see how it would not have been a good first foot forward for me. I am a different writer now.

I am grateful for the two and a half hour church organizational meeting I went to the other day. I am most definitely not the type of person who typically goes to long church leadership/organizational meetings, and honestly I am glad for the chance to see that maybe I can be, and maybe I can be the kind of person who serves that much. I have a lot of improving to do in that regard.

I am grateful I didn't get into MFA programs the first time around. I don't know all the ways this has, is, and will continue to influence my life, but I already know that I have learned a lot through the things that have happened since I got all those rejections. Things that wouldn't have happened if I'd gone immediately to school.

Anyway, those are a few of the fleas that I am grateful for. They're not fun, but they shape who we are.

What hard things are you grateful for?



  1. I grateful for the harsh/honest critique about my writing & blogging, which ultimately forced me to take very hard look at what I wanted to versus what I was doing with my writing.

    Father Nature's Corner

  2. I kind of agree with what you suggested about the fleas. There are hidden things that make us better people and in turn make us better writers. I think the submission process is hard, and should be hard. It will be that much sweeter when we succeed. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

  3. I am grateful for getting robbed at gunpoint in 2008. I hit rock bottom shortly after, and I would never have known how strong I am if it didn't happen.

  4. The "flea" story has been one of the most powerful stories that I have ever read. For me it sums up my existence here...can I learn to trust the Lord to know that no matter what happens to me, the Lord can work it for my good. To really be grateful for everything that happens on this grand adventure here in life. Adventures are uncomfortable things.

  5. Great analogy. And so true. Life throws challenges and passing through them all makes us stronger.

  6. There's always something to be thankful for. It's all a matter of perspective and attitude.

    Tossing It Out

  7. I'm grateful for knowing that when God says no, it's because he has something even better in store.


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