What are Gratitude and Thankfulness?
Many of us spent moments in the last few weeks thinking about things we are thankful for. Many of us encouraged our children to do the same because we celebrated Thanksgiving and that’s what we are supposed to do, right? We may have expressed out loud that we are thankful for our family, food, health, friends or home. While I am grateful for those things and never want to take them for granted, I can’t help but feel like they sound like a basic Hallmark list.
While I walk around our Deep Creek Learning Center building, sometimes I notice the paint that needs touching up or the final rooms that need finished. In these observations, I can overlook the overwhelming evidence of generosity in our DCLC community. Almost every wall that was painted or cleaned was done by a volunteer. Almost every piece of furniture was donated by a generous community partner. Every encouraging email came from a committed parent that wants the best for their children. Last week was our first Grandparent’s Day celebration. Our grandparents donated SO MANY AMAZING gifts to our school. They took the time to invest in their grandchildren and were such a joy to meet.
I am so grateful for all of these things, not just during this season but every day. As I write down these thoughts of gratitude, I still feel like something is missing. As I make the list of things I am grateful for, I see “things”. As I explain gratitude to young minds that are sponges, I fall short with this list. When I say I am grateful for my family, health, and home, I wonder about others that don’t have those things. Can they be thankful? I don’t want to be grateful for things that are comparatively better than others. Those “things” don’t make us who we are.
Instead this year, I am grateful for disappointments and unanswered prayers. My disappointments helped me to rely on and trust the Lord and others. My unanswered prayers were just that. Mine. They weren’t God’s best. The patience that is gained in a season of waiting for God’s best can’t be purchased with any currency.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
So whether we feel like we are in a time of abundance or frustration, we can rest in knowing that there is something to be thankful for. We aren’t thankful for our family just because someone else we know lost a member of theirs. We aren’t thankful for our health because our neighbor was diagnosed with cancer. We can practice a heart of gratitude in good times and bad because we know our time and influence on earth is short. My encouragement to both parents and children is to be grateful for challenges. When talking with our children, let’s show them everyday gratitude. They begin to see momentary failures as an opportunity to learn. They can grow from a harsh word spoken to them because they are given the opportunity to demonstrate grace, love, and self-control and have the opportunity to set a good example.
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. " 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Join us in remembering true gratitude, not only for a season but as a part of who we are every day.