Well, we survived another Halloween. Rain kept all but the most determined trick-or-treaters away this year, but close to 100 costumed cuties still showed up on our doorstep begging for candy.
The majority of them thanked us sweetly as we dropped the treats into their buckets and bags, although it took a little parental prodding for some to remember that simple courtesy. A few of the trick-or-treaters forgot their manners altogether, grabbing what we offered and dashing away without a word.
Whether that’s because they were so excited about getting free candy that it slipped their minds, or so tanked up on sugar that they weren’t thinking clearly, or so desperate to get out of the rain that they forwent the formalities, I don’t know, but their behavior got me to thinking about all the times I’ve forgotten to say thanks myself. All the times I’ve taken the kindness of others or the goodness of God for granted.
Robert Brault once wrote, “There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.” Ouch! That stings, doesn’t it?
So as we roll into November, I’m determined to slow down, to count my blessings, to think on all the wonderful gifts I’ve been given in life, both by God and by my fellow man, and to say a heartfelt THANK YOU.
I’m determined to follow the Biblical command: “In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Want to join me? We can treat it like a treasure hunt: We’ll look for the good, search out the ways God has lavished His grace and mercy upon us, note all the kind and thoughtful things others do on our behalf, and be thankful.
But we’ll need to take it one step further than that, and actually say thanks.
Has your spouse been especially patient or helpful lately? Say thank you. Did your coworker greet you with a cheerful smile? Let her know she brightened your day. Does your pastor prepare a new sermon each week? Tell him how much you appreciate his faithfulness. Does your neighbor keep a well-manicured lawn? Thank him for working so hard to keep your neighborhood looking nice. Did your waitress take good care of you at lunchtime? Express your gratitude (and leave her generous tip, as well).
For my part, I want to use written words to express my appreciation whenever I can. I’ve always been a big letter writer, so such a goal makes great sense to me: I’ll write one thank you note a day for the entire month of November. That should put me in the proper frame of mind before it’s time to carve the turkey!
When we are intentional about cultivating gratitude, we not only make life pleasanter for those around us, but we reap significant benefits ourselves.
Grateful people are happy people.
They are joyful and content and filled with empathy and appreciation for others. Grateful people take the self-focused sense of entitlement that is so prevalent in our culture today and turn it completely inside out and upside down. That kind of heart change comes only by the grace of God, but it has the power to transform your life and to change the world.
And it all starts with accepting a gift and gratefully acknowledging the giver.
Jennifer Flanders would like to thank you for reading this article today! For more on cultivating an attitude of gratitude, check out her devotional journal at http://bit.ly/countingblessings.