We’ve been working on gratitude lately. Gratitude for the simple things. Like only one helping of dessert and just thirty minutes of park time. Or accepting the fact that sometimes the bank lady doesn’t give us a sucker and that’s ok, too. Gratitude is not assuming gifts or acts of kindness and not even asking for them.
And yes, it is something that needs to be worked on. Intentionally worked on.
I’ve had four children and worked with countless individuals–young and old–and never once have I met one person who was naturally grateful. We as human beings are naturally ungrateful and wear our sense of entitlement like badge of honor.
End of story.
And no, it is not easy. We constantly need to keep before us the importance of being grateful. For every breath. For every moment—both good and bad. Sometimes, when the moments get too bad, I can live a long while on all the things for which I am grateful.
There is a lovely older couple who attend our church, and when I see them on Sunday, they light up my world. Mr. and Mrs. G are full of joy, they have a positive outlook on life, and they are never ever too busy to stop and give me a hug. In fact, they will go out of their way to encourage me before a Sunday service. This past Sunday, I said in my greeting how grateful I was for the sunshine that morning, and Mr. G replied:
“Each and every morning that you wake up and draw that first glorious breath, you should be grateful.”
He did not mean it as a reproach—I could tell by the gentle smile in his eyes—but I am certain he meant it as a quiet reminder, and I took it as such.
I have tried to instill the importance of gratitude into my children in many different ways, but I have to say that as a mom, I’m never quite sure which one of the millions of daily messages are actually making it into their brains or better yet, their hearts. Sometimes I feel like my lips are moving, my voice is speaking, but all the kids hear is a Charlie Brown adult “Wah wah wah wah wah wah wah…”
Tonight after his bath, I lay in Evan’s bed, and we read together a great story about living on a farm and milking cows. When it was time for bedtime prayers, I asked him to tell God all the things for which he was grateful.
His prayer went like this:
Thank you that I can go to Aunt Judy’s and make “ginger egg” men.
And thank you that I can make a gingerbread house at school.
And thank you that I can decorate the gingerbread men.
And thank you that I can bring home gingerbread men to eat later.
And thank you that I had corn on the cob for dinner and broccoli and macaroni and cheese.
AND thank you that we will get the crayon out of the pencil sharpener so I can sharpen my new pencil from preschool.
And thank you that we had such a good day.
And thank you for the stories about Max the dog.
And thank you for my brothers and thank you for Allison and Ilana.
And thank you for my sister.
And thank you for my dog Oreo even though she is old and we should probably get a new one.
And thank you that I will NOT get into trouble in the morning. Haha! Thank you for that! POP!!!
And thank you for good sleep.
And Dear Jesus…Amen.”
I watched his face as he prayed—hands moving in explanation, looking up at the ceiling just talking to God, completely oblivious to me watching him. I can only imagine the smile on God’s face as He was listening.
My heart felt full to overflowing.
And I was once again incredibly grateful for this Little Wonder—this wise man in preschool body, this storyteller of God-sized proportion, this daily stretcher of virtue in my life. Ev keeps me knee deep in invocations and possibilities and an ever growing sense of gratitude.