A complete stranger nodded to me through the glass door. He made a hand motion that he would open it for me and I somehow perceived that he didn’t speak English, by the way he gestured and nodded without saying a word. I stepped back and this kind young man opened the door with a smile. I smiled and thanked him profusely as I slipped through the door, laden down with bags and packages. He nodded and smiled again, still not saying a word, then we both went on our way. It was a moment of kindness and gratitude.
This happened several weeks ago, but it lingers in my mind. I am so glad that it was my natural inclination to profusely thank him. I never want to lose that heart of gratitude! It is way too easy in this busy, hustle and bustle world to just zip through life with our eyes down and our mind focused on the next thing on the to-do list. Way too often we neglect saying thank you.
Neglecting gratitude. What a convicting thought. Can you think of a time when you neglected to take the time to thank someone? Maybe you were too busy to write a thank you note. Maybe you were rushing through your day and didn’t pause to say it—to a stranger or to a family member.
Family—the perfect place to start ramping up your gratitude meter is with your family! Sometimes you have to look for things to be grateful for when the day is falling apart and you feel frazzled. Then, there are those special moments when gratitude just comes gushing out of you. A reminder of the power of gratitude at home came to me recently when my little grandson came home from school with a special note he had written for me while practicing his handwriting. It simply said “ I (heart) you, Mimi.” Well, let me tell you, when I opened the envelope and saw the note, I not only thanked him but I scooped him up in my arms and gave him a huge hug and kiss. (His love language is touch.) Then I softly told him how special he was and how special he made me feel. In this case it was easy to express gratitude along with a large dose of love.
Both with family and in the world of strangers around us, expressing gratitude is a way to shine God’s light of love into a lonely, dark world. A simple “thank you” followed by a “God bless you” gently expresses the source of your attitude of gratitude. It is a “not-in-your-face” way of living the way God would have us to live.
Here’s a recipe for how to live a life of gratitude “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18) Paul, who had a past of making bad choices and doing horrible things wrote these words. His life was turned around when he turned toward God and Jesus. He still faced many hardships, but he chose a life of joy, prayer and thankfulness. Let’s do that, too!
What are your recent stories of gratitude? Are you a good thanks-giver? Now, during this holiday season is a great time to focus on this. Do you have others in your life who are models of gratitude-giving? If so, listen, observe, check out what they say and do– and learn! Be a student of gratefulness. Or maybe you’re the pacesetter of thanks-giving in your family.
Or maybe you’re the pacesetter of thanks-giving in your family. Great! Keep it up!
So remember to thank that person who opens the door for you or, better yet, be the person who opens doors. A grateful heart is a giving heart, ready to serve. If we all do this, we can be certain that gratitude will not become a lost art!