If there is one thing I was taught growing up, it was the importance of writing thank you notes. I suppose it’s my Southern roots. Well, not so much mine, but my mother’s and her diligence to seed and cultivate a heart of gratefulness. She never got around to teaching me how to cook, balance a checkbook or other life-enhancing skills, but I certainly learned to write one dynamic note of thanks.
And not just the “Thank you for the Panini grill. It’s huge and heavy, yet its shiny surface looks great taking up most of my counter space.”
No, I was drilled on the writing of heartfelt thanks, and for that I am all the more heartier. When I set out to compose a message, I am hardwired to consider the gift’s value in my life. But most especially, I think about the thoughtfulness of the giver and my appreciation for the sacrifice of time, energy and money given to offer that gift.
As a result, I’m huge on gratitude, goes with my being instructed heavily on the art of writing thank you notes. Show me a grateful person, and I’ll attempt to do all I can for her or him. Show me an ungrateful person, and I can no longer feel my hands and arms extending.
So what does that say about me and my heart?
Maybe that I need to get past myself and what has been woven into my fabric known as my pattern of proper laws for living. Because as I’ve grown older, I’m increasingly aware how crotchety I’ve become when a gift given was not properly acknowledged. Dare I say I get a tad indignant? You know that inner hmmmpf that puffs from the mind and enlarges in and out of the mouth only to weigh heavy in the heart!
Only now I have to determine: is it that the person is lazy and/or purposefully negligent in offering thanks, or is it because this one was never taught the art of gratitude? Because just as I wasn’t taught a lot of things growing up that truly were valuable life skills, I have to now wonder who I have made indignant by my lapses. (So that’s why some are so crotchety towards me?)
If this is all that I know, how can I be judged? I’ve surmised though that if I have a mind-set and a heart-set to learn and grow in those lapses, I can develop the skill-set necessary. That is if I so choose. I suppose that’s why Jesus became frustrated with the Pharisees. They were satisfied in their self-imposed empowerment of dictating their rules; thus, they missed out on seeing and hearing and learning from the one who would die to free them from those laws.
Imagine though the scene in Luke 17:13-19–when Jesus healed ten men with leprosy. Only one man returned to give thanks. And Jesus took note of that grateful heart.
According to Bible Gateway in the NIV translation alone, thanks is found in 72 verses, thanksgiving in 30, praise in 305.
Synonyms for thanks: gratitude, acknowledgement, recognition, benediction, blessing, credit, grace, gratefulness, praise, thankfulness, thank you note.
Antonyms for ungrateful: selfish, careless, demanding, dissatisfied, fault-finding, grumbling, ingrate, insensible, oblivious, self-centered, unappreciative, unmindful, unnatural.
Think about it, and observe yourself–what you think, what you say, how your heart beats. For a heart of gratefulness is not one feigned. It takes real heart, the kind that pumps rich blood, to live a rich life.
In my twenties I used to eat Cream of Wheat fortified with extra iron or calves liver to safeguard me from anemia. Yum. The odor alone provokes the liver-loving fakers to trod off. Are you anemic?
Are you thankfull?
Recently for a Thanksgiving meal, our seven-year-old granddaughter Elizabeth created brown paper place mats with the question, “What makes you thankfull?”
Rich, isn’t it? That our thanksgiving is so full that we’re overflowing. How do we miss that? It certainly takes a new perspective, a new approach, sometimes merely flipping the switch.
That reminds me of a Q&A column in the Democrat-Gazette I read a few weeks ago by the snarky Carolyn. The young woman writing in was listing all the outrageous ways her mother-in-law irked her. The wicked mother-in-law had requested her son and daughter-in-law send a copy of one of their best/favorite photos for the mom-in-law to put in a Christmas news letter. It was apparent as the daughter-in-law listed more crimes that the mother-in-law was only guilty of trying to include them all and have a special holiday in her way. It obviously was not the daughter-in-law’s ways.
Carolyn grasped the pettiness of the questionnaire, reminding the embittered daughter-in-law and all of us of the truly tragic atrocities taking place in the world. Syria. The war on hunger and poverty and drugs. Readers got her point.
This scenario reminded me of those people in whom I can say or do nothing right. For whatever reason they haven chosen to misunderstand me and find something critical in everything I say and do; thus, I inevitably mess-up. I sense it in my heart, so I’m on guard. I stutter and stammer and fall into their web of criticism. Now, as I’m writing this do I recognize it’s actually more in their heart, and I shouldn’t allow it to disease mine.
In 2014, what if we worked to create a stronger better us instead of an embittered walled off shell of a person? Certainly, it’s hard to be kind to someone who does not reciprocate. It’s harder to live in unforgiveness and unkindness and ingratitude.
Because what we don’t always know is that maybe they’re hurting physically or emotionally. Maybe, like me, they’re thinking about something, distracted, thus, unresponsive. Maybe, they can’t see–physically, emotionally, spiritually.
And why should others’ lives, why should an ungracious world, keep us from living our best lives in Christ?
So we are responsible to ask ourselves: What does my heart look like? Not just how does it appear to others, but who am I really? Look. Really search deep and note. It’s okay if you don’t like everything. It’s quite honest, in fact.
For gratitude is an art. And as we choose to develop it, our gratitude colors and designs our lives with beauty.
The Lord longs to be gracious to us, so shouldn’t we return and say, “Thank you.”
“In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength. . . . Yet, the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion.” Isaiah 30: 15a, 18a
Psalm 112: 4, 5 & 7, speaks comfort, a great memory verse for 2014:
“Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely and conducts his affairs with justice. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear in the end.”
Visit the new page/site “Tattered Butterflies” and add your word of encouragement for others who might be hurting, your request for prayer, a scripture or quotation strengthening you right now. If you would like for it to be anonymous, note that and I will honor that.