Recently, a colleague came up to me in our employee break room and announced, “I have a challenge for you!” “Really?” I asked, “Please explain.” He said that for about 20 years, he has felt a whole lot of anger toward the culture’s ingratitude. “We have all forgotten what Thanksgiving is all about! It has melted into a day of football and parades. Does the American culture really have nothing in which to be thankful? We have forgotten all about it! I challenge you to write an article about it!”
After this conversation, as I filled up my mug of coffee, I thought, “We are truly called by God to be ‘thanks-givers!’” Let me explain.
Paul writes in one of his letters, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”1 I really think that there are two distinct aspects of being a thanks-giver, like having a drumstick in each hand: gratitude and humility.
According to Dictionary.com, gratitude is a “feeling of appreciation for a gift or kindness offered.” Cicero, a Roman philosopher and an individual who is a bit wiser than most, declared, “Gratitude is the greatest of virtues!” Modern psychologists have also discovered that grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives. Yet, being grateful doesn’t come natural to us. But if we choose to look at life through grateful-colored glasses, focusing on our blessings, problems and concerns are put in right perspectives. This is not easy. It takes a conscious decision.
So, as we sit down and chomp on our first drumstick, I challenge you find a blessing in every circumstance in which you find yourself. What’s the benefit? It strengthens our “holiness” muscle in four ways: It honors God and strengthens our faith, it becomes the foundation on which we can worship God, it strengthens our relationship with others and it can dramatically change how we experience our world.
As you “chew” on the taste of the drumstick of gratitude, take a swig of water and pick up the other one: humility.
What is your image of a humble person? For me, it is someone who is free from arrogance, who grows out of recognition that all we have comes from God. We cannot exhibit humility without being a “thanks-giver.” So you might wonder, “How can you practice humility?” First, like gratitude, it is a conscious choice born from a practice to examine your conscience on a daily basis using these questions: 1. How have I complimented or congratulated others today? 2. Did I volunteer to clean up after an event or offer to be of service to someone even if that service was “beneath” me? 3. Did I admit when I was in the wrong and try to make amends to that person besides saying, “I am sorry?”
True humility lies in praising and exalting God. It lies in truly being grateful and living as a “thanks-giver.” As you gather with friends and family this Thanksgiving, and pass the turkey, don’t forget the drumsticks of gratitude and thanksgiving!
11 Thessalonians 5:18
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness