Resentment or Gratitude?

15 Nov

I watched a video of a speech given by Liz Murray yesterday and it moved me so much that I have not been able to stop thinking about it.  Liz is the author of Breaking Night and a woman with an amazing life story of survival, determination, and achievement.  Her story was also featured in a lifetime movie, Homeless to Harvard.

Liz describes her parents as loving parents who were drug addicts.  Each of them contracted HIV/AIDS.  Her mother’s addiction to cocaine was so fierce that she once tried to sell her child’s coat to a dealer.  Amazingly, the dealer wouldn’t make the sale because he knew Liz needed her coat.

By the time Liz was 15, both of her parents had died as the result of the disease and she found herself homeless.  Let’s just think about that for a minute.  Homeless at 15!  I can’t even imagine what that would have been like, not to mention the life she lived prior to that – living in conditions below poverty level and not even having money for food because her parents spent all of the money on drugs.

At a time when most people her age were entering college, Liz was trying to find a high school that would accept her so that she could complete her education.  Not only did she find a high school and complete her degree, she completed four years of work in two years – all while being homeless.  And – AND – she earned excellent grades all along the way.

The New York Times ran a contest where the winners would be given full scholarships to Harvard University.  The entrants needed to write an essay describing any obstacles they had overcome in their lives.  She submitted an entry, was selected as one of the six winners, became a student at Harvard and is now a graduate of Harvard University!

I’m not able to post the speech video here, but you can watch an interview she did with Mike Huckabee at Fox News: if you would like to hear more about her story.

Source: Pinterest

One of the things Liz mentioned during the speech was that we all have a choice when life hands us difficulties.  We can choose resentment or we can choose gratitude.  That is the part that has been bouncing around in my head for the past day.  Resentment or gratitude.


The choice we make when faced with illness, difficulty, hardship, or even tragedy will have a significant impact on our lives.

I have cancer.  I can choose resentment or gratitude about this fact.  I can’t change the fact, I can only change my response to the fact.

I can resent the fact that cancer has interrupted my life in a BIG way, created a lot of stress (not only for me, but for my family), and forced me to endure nasty chemotherapy.  OR, I can be grateful that the cancer was found now, before it caused permanent damage to my kidney.  I can be grateful that there are knowledgeable doctors and powerful medicines available to help me treat this disease.  I can be grateful that my body seems to be tolerating and responding to the treatments pretty well.

Resentment or gratitude?  It’s a choice I have to make each day.  I don’t think it’s as simple as saying, “I choose gratitude,” once and for all.  It’s a choice I will have to make over and over again throughout this process.

Why?  Because things change.  Emotions come into play.  The days when I feel worse may will make it tempting to choose resentment over gratitude.  Some days it will be easy to choose gratitude, but on other days I will have to consciously CHOOSE gratitude over resentment.  I will have to choose thankfulness over bitterness.  I will have to choose joy over self-pity.

I don’t think this is only a choice cancer patients have to make.  This is a choice we all have to make at some point in our lives.  My sister lost her husband this year.  She has to choose resentment or gratitude on a daily, if not hourly, basis.  I am so proud of her because she is choosing gratitude, even though it is tough to do some days.  Choosing resentment is easy, it requires little effort.  Gratitude requires effort and determination.

There might be a situation in your life right now where you need to choose resentment or gratitude.  What’s your choice going to be?

The Bible says in I Thessalonians 5:16-18,

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It doesn’t say sometimes or when things are easy or when I feel like it.  It says in ALL circumstances, give thanks.  In all circumstances, be thankful.  In all circumstances, be grateful – not resentful.

I may not be perfectly successful at this 100% of the time, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

♥ Rachel


6 Responses to “Resentment or Gratitude?”

  1. The Savvy Sister November 15, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    It takes some people a lifetime to realize this.

    • rachturner November 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

      It’s easy to realize it, not always easy to live it. But we have to try, right? Hope you are doing well!!

  2. Jim Fugate November 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Rachael: To me you demonstrate gratitude in your writings. “Attitude” is including in that word and I’ve said in other writings that I admire your attitude. God is good all the time and you are certainly one of His favorite children.


    Jim Fugate, West Virginia

  3. Kathy November 15, 2011 at 10:16 pm #



    Resentment only begets more resentment. Gratitude can’t help but beget more gratitude.

    Thanks for bringing Liz Murray to our attention. It’s a wonderful reminder of just how hard some people have to struggle for what we think of as routine. No telling exactly how many lives she has inspired by continuing in spite of overwhelming challenges.

    • rachturner November 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

      Seriously! If her story doesn’t inspire someone, I don’t know what would.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: