Gratitude, thankfulness, grateful. These are words that come to mind as Thanksgiving nears. Naturally, I think of myself as a grateful person, but after the latest tragedies that have struck our nation (hurricanes, and shootings, and wildfires, and more), I’ve come to realize that I have a lot more to be thankful for than I could possibly imagine. Yes, I’ve always thanked God for good health, my growing family, needs that are met, and circumstances that have molded me. However, there are times where I can be downright critical, moaning and groaning over changed plans or something inconvenient or uncomfortable. Can I give thanks even when things aren’t so pleasant? Am I truly grateful even in the midst of the tough seasons in life?
Seeing so many people hurting for food and shelter, clean breathable air, and loved ones lost in a disgusting shooting, brings to light ways I can live with gratitude daily. And as I get older I am learning more about how to be grateful not only when things are good and the power is on, but also in the dark. It doesn’t come naturally. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it feels better to grumble, but gratitude is a choice.
I can choose gratitude for my stretch marks that brought me, 3 healthy full-term babies, instead of griping about my body. To be thankful for my little one who calls me into his room a hundred times at bedtime because at least he still needs me, and I like feeling needed. I can choose to be grateful when the power goes out during a storm because flashlights are fun sometimes and things could be A LOT worse. And, I can even choose gratitude in the things I complain about most, like doing dishes, laundry, and cleaning floors because these are all reminders that I am fed, clothed, and sheltered.
It’s easy to give thanks when things are good, but giving thanks when things are hard is more difficult. But think of what our children will learn from us if they can watch us give thanks when we are sad, or angry, or uncomfortable. I’d like my children to still be thankful for their school, even on days when they don’t like school. I want them to be thankful for the meals I prepare, even on nights when they decide they don’t like chicken. For them to say thanks whether they receive one mini-m&m or a bag of m&ms. I believe we all want our children to be thankful. How many times do we are parents repeat the phrase, “say thank you”, “can you say thanks”, “what do you say?” in one day!?
So let’s try to set aside all complaints about a day and practice thankfulness in the small things, the inconvenient things, and the things that aren’t so great. Let’s decide today to show our kids what gratitude really looks like and acts like instead of what it sounds like. Let’s trade in our complaints and send a prayer for those whose needs aren’t met today and for those who won’t be spending Thanksgiving with their beloved.