In this season of giving thanks, we are all hyperaware of the things for which we are thankful. But, in a silly conversation with my kids the other day, I realized how much we really take for granted. We were discussing the difference in humans from other mammals, and we started talking about opposable thumbs. From there, we talked about how much harder life would be without thumbs and decided that our prayer of thanks for the day would be for thumbs. Sounds silly, but seriously….have you considered how hard it would be to function day to day without thumbs?! That silly conversation led me to think about how many other seemingly small and insignificant things we take for granted every day.
There is a best-selling book titled, “The Five Love Languages”, and while one of them is “Words of Affirmation,” I would take this a step further and say that gratitude is a love language all in itself that we seemingly have lost. I cooked supper the other night, and while cleaning up the kitchen, my husband said, “Thank you for cooking supper. It was really good.” Not that he isn’t always appreciative, but taking the time and making a point of looking me in the eyes to say so meant a lot to me. When was the last time you thanked your spouse for cleaning up the kitchen? For doing your laundry? For working hard? When was the last time you thanked your FedEx delivery person for making sure the packages are up off the ground where the dog can’t get them? (Maybe that’s just at my house?! Confession: we are on a first name basis and they bring my dogs treats they come so often.) My point is that in the day to day rush of life, it is easy to take for granted the people closest to you. We fall into routines, ruts, divisions of duties, and we start expecting things instead of being appreciative of them.
I heard a sermon one time that really got my attention. Honestly, I don’t remember the point of the sermon, but I do remember an example of a wife being mad at having to pick up her husband’s shoes every day. It caused a lot of friction in their home. But one day, the husband didn’t come back home; he was killed in an accident that day, and the wife cried for months as she kept his pair of shoes right where he left them, in the middle of the floor, knowing that once she picked them up it would be for the last time. The pastor suggested that instead of being bitter about always picking up after your husband, or whatever little thing it is that grates your nerves, to try and be thankful to have a husband that comes home every day, to be thankful for the shoes you both had to wear. I started applying that idea to my time in the laundry room. It used to be really annoying to me to stand in the laundry room everyday single day of my life washing, drying, folding clothes, until I realized how grateful I should be to have clothes to wear, to have a family that plays and works and lives, to have a washer and dryer that work. Now, I use my laundry time as prayer time and I thank God for my family as I fold their clothes and think about all the fun and wonderful things we get to do while we are wearing those clothes.
Perspective changes everything, and when you shift your perspective to one of gratitude, life changes for the better. There will always be hard and difficult things we each have to face. There will be seasons of life where it is difficult to put one foot in front of the other, and sometimes focusing on breathing in and then breathing out is about the only thing we can do to survive. But I promise, there is always, always, always something to be thankful for, and looking for those things and expressing your gratitude for them can change everything. On the flip side of that coin, there is someone in your life who hasn’t felt appreciated in a long time. A written thank you note, a pause to make a point of telling them thank you, or even a quick text message, can make a huge difference in someone’s life. We all want to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. And, if I might offer a suggestion, make it specific. Look your co-worker square in the eyes today and tell them what they do that makes your life better and how much you appreciate them. Tell your wife specifically that you see what she does every day to make your house a home. Call your grandmother and tell her how much it means to you that she prays for you and thank her for being a Godly example in your life.
Whatever and whoever makes your life better, no matter how small, focus on that in this season. Take the time to express your gratitude. Watch the change that happens in your life as you shift your perspective to one of gratitude.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4: 6-7
Dr. Allison Key