A Life of Gratitude

One of the most difficult things we teach our children is how to say, "Thank you."

Saying these two little words doesn't come naturally. Developmentally, children believe and act as though they are the center of the universe and should be the focus of everyone's attention.  When this is the way in which one views the world, saying something appreciative to another person who has just done something for you or given you a gift doesn't fit.  In spite of this, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and teachers work hard to remind the little ones in their lives to say thank you.  We all believe that it is the right thing to do.

As difficult and important as teaching and learning the practice of saying "thank you" may be, it pales in comparison with learning how to live a life characterized by the discipline of gratitude.

Much like other disciplines, a life of gratitude is decisive, intentional, and responsive. 
- A life of gratitude is a decisive act. Disciplines are called disciplines because of the hard
work that goes into making them a reality.  Gratitude is no different. We must decide that it is worth the effort to live a life of gratitude. 
- A life of gratitude does not come naturally.  It takes intentionality for gratitude to take root in our lives and become not just something we do but a part of our character that rests at our very core.  We cannot wait for it to come about on its own or it will seldom if ever happen. 
- A life of gratitude is a responsive life.  This means that it is a life lived as a response to the grace and love that we have been given. Gratitude is not dependent upon positive situations or happy endings.  

As we move past Thanksgiving, let us pause for a moment to consider what it might mean for us to live lives of gratitude. 

Of gratitude, Melody Beattie wrote, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Let us end with a psalm of gratitude, Psalm 103.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.
As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, 
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word.
Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will.
Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. 
Bless the Lord, O my soul."


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