Haircuts, Fleas and Gratitude

Everything was going wrong. My kids were in terrible moods, I was in a terrible mood, and all day long, I kept thinking about my haircut scheduled that evening. I was going to stay at the salon forever.

And then I forgot to remind my husband.

I watched the clock move closer and closer to the time I needed to leave. I couldn’t get a hold of him, and there was no way I was about to take my kids with. I let the minutes push as far as I could before finally making the dreaded phone call. I had to cancel my appointment. 

My husband felt terrible. I knew he didn’t forget on purpose, but I continued to feel sorry for myself all evening anyways. As I sat watching my kids in swim lessons, I tried shifting my mindset by jotting down things I was thankful for. But I’m not sure even the world’s longest swim lesson would have left me in a better mood. 

I needed more than a quick fix.

It’s normal to have “bad days”. It’s healthy and even necessary to feel sad, discouraged, and exhausted at times. It’s a reality that we will walk through seasons of grief and trauma.


We have a God that is good through it all. We have a God who is with us always. A God who has made a way to us. A God who gives us a promise and a hope that will never fail and never disappoint [1].

In “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom, she writes of entering into a new set of barracks during the second world war. It took only a moment to realize:

“Fleas!” I cried. “Betsie, the place is swarming with them!… how can we live in such a place?”
“Show us. Show us how.” It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
“Corrie!” she said excitedly. “He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning… ‘Give thanks in all circumstances!’ That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!”

As time went on, these women held daily Bible readings, offering an eternal hope to a group of women who had nothing else. And they found themselves shocked by how little their unit was monitored – guards never walked through. They found out later, it was because of the fleas. Even the guards didn’t want to expose themselves to the filth and depravity of their barracks. So these women were free to worship and teach.

It’s an incredible testimony to the movement of God. Still, these women had thanked him for the fleas before they ever knew how he would use it. Obedience to God was already a steady habit. They were already familiar with taking him at his Word and doing what he says.

I started this post years ago. That particular day has long since gone. But I still remember going to bed that night and feeling shocked at the realization that God’s call to gratitude isn’t about me feeling better when I’m sad. It’s about trusting God always. Keeping our eyes on him. Remembering what he’s done and believing that he will do what he’s promised.

I will always be disappointed to miss a haircut. But if we can live in a regular practice of thanking God continually, I think it positions us to view circumstances through a more accurate lens. To exit the pity parties sooner. And enable us to obey the greatest command to love God. To enjoy him. 

And still, I know it can be so hard. I know it can seem mechanical to thank God for something when you don’t feel thankful. But I also know gratitude isn’t the full basis of our relationship with Him. He wants every bit of us. Our gratitude, our burdens, our hearts. We can pour it all out to him.

God is always good. He is always working. He is always faithful. His commands are not burdensome [2]. And he has made a way for us. To know him. To be with him. And to obey him. To obey his good commands. His commands that give life. Life abundant. 

[1] Isaiah 55:10-11, Romans 5:2-5
[2] 1 John 5:3

As I read through scripture on gratitude, I couldn’t help but notice how often I was finding nearby scripture on peace. How much more might the peace of God be tangible to us if we live in obedience to the Lord and in a posture of gratitude for who he is, what he’s done, and what he’s promised?

Read: Psalm 95, Psalm 136
Philippians 2:18, 4:4-9
Colossians 3:15-17, 4:2
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Romans 8:5-6, 18

Sing: Gratitude, Brandon Lake
Getting Ready, Maverick City Music

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