My daughter carries everything in her dance bag. I mean, you have spend as much time dancing as she does just to lift this thing. One evening, in between classes, the dancers were changing shoes. Someone said, “Does anyone have any extra water? I forgot mine.” Anna pulled out two bottles from her heavy bag and handed one over. The girl looked at Anna with a puzzled expression and said, “Why did you bring two water bottles?” Another girl, who tends to speak her mind in the most amazing way, said, “Just say thank you!”
I tell this story because, honestly, that phrase goes through my head all the time. Like when we sit down to a meal I’ve lovingly prepared and one of my kids says, “Does this have mushrooms in it?” I’ll say, “Just say thank you.” Have you noticed we’re so quick to think about all the things we aren’t happy with instead of all the things we should be thankful for? We’re quick to point out the mushrooms instead of looking at all the other ingredients.
Although I often find myself reminding my kids of this truth, I might be the worst offender of this problem of “forgetting to be thankful” Like most homeowners, we have an ongoing list of things that need our attention in the house. Some are simple like changing a light bulb, and some are more difficult repairs. It seems like as soon as one thing gets checked off, something else needs attention. I know that’s typical especially when you think about how many people live in our house and how we don’t always make time for regular maintenance. But for me, it’s like a compulsion -especially since these are typically things I need my husband to do or at least help with. I can’t rest. I see something being repaired, and instead of just saying, “Thank you”, I begin to fixate on the next thing that needs to be done. How annoying is that?
It’s no accident I’m writing about being thankful this week. It was the topic at church on Sunday and the sermon really made me think. My pastor, Keith Minier, said, “Unexpressed gratitude is experienced as ingratitude”. That really caught me off guard. You see, I assume my family can see my heart of gratitude, but the truth is , if I don’t express it, they experience ingratitude. I don’t know why this was such a newsflash for me. It’s not like I assumed my family to be mind-readers. But somehow, I thought that my being or feeling grateful would suffice. It doesn’t. And jumping to the next item on the to do list, isn’t even kind of expressing gratitude.
It seems to me, those we forget to thank are those who are closest to us. We take their support and kindness for granted because they are our family or our best friends. They like doing nice things for us right? Maybe they do. But that doesn’t matter. We should still be in the habit of regularly and genuinly thanking them.
Examine your behavior for a moment. What are your mushrooms? Where are the places you need to just say “thank you” instead of either pointing out the things you don’t like or the things that still need be taken care of.
Think back to a time when someone expressed thanks for something you did. Maybe it was a card or an email. Maybe they pulled you aside and thanked you in person. When we are approached by a genuine thank you, it changes the way we serve and care for others because we know it means something to someone. Let’s be the kind of people who stop and just say, “thank you”.
Our challenge this week at church was to thank ten people. I’m looking forward to taking that challenge. I hope you will too.