Does Having Much to be Thankful For, Make Me a Thankful Person?

I have so much to be thankful for.  I could list off basics like clean water, nutrition, shelter, education, healthcare, religious freedom, democracy, and rights as a woman. 

I could list off all of the relationships in my life – starting with my relationship with Jesus, who makes all things new.  I have a steady hope in a God that I know to be loving and kind and just and wonderful.  I have a husband who is loving and kind and funny and determined and fights for justice.  I have a wonderful family (that includes my husband’s family – they are very much my own family after 9 years).  I have incredibly supportive, wise, and selfless friends that are family.  I have a church that is a family.

I could list all the stuff in my life, too, because I’ll admit, stuff is nice – the non-essentials that make life easier to savor.  I have books that make for great company, technology to connect me to others around the world, decorations that make home comfortable, good coffee every day, and an occasional glass of fabulous wine.

I have so much to be thankful for, but I’ve been asking myself this morning, am I really thankful, or have I just gotten good at being able to list the things that I should be grateful for?

It’s one thing to acknowledge all the things that I have to be thankful for.  I can list 5 a day for the entire month of November on facebook without blinking an eye, but does that make me thankful?

At my depths, am I grateful, regardless of how my day goes, regardless of if I get that thing I wanted, regardless of hurt in a relationship?  How do I know if I am really grateful? 

I read a great quote this morning from Erwin McManus that I thought summed this up well –

“It is a life of gratitude that makes us whole, overwhelms us with love, and moves us to generous lives.”

I want to be overwhelmed with love constantly, and I want to be generous always.  I want to be in a posture of thankfulness daily, who doesn’t feel entitled (as evidenced by unfair expectations of people), who isn’t greedy (as evidenced by counting the cost of giving), who isnt’ selfish (as evidenced by expecting a return on investments of gifts, service, or time).

Daily, I want to appreciate others, receive gifts with humility, and live an open life that is recklessly generous.  I want to be constantly conscious that all I have is a gift. 

Tomorrow, calendars won’t be reminding me to be thankful, and media won’t be bombarding me with thankful lists, but I want to choose to embrace a life of gratitude.

4 thoughts on “Does Having Much to be Thankful For, Make Me a Thankful Person?

  1. Very true. I’ve been trying to live a more grateful life this year and be more aware of the many things I have that are easy to take for granted. I think the first step is recognizing that we do lead very privileged lives, but the recognition itself doesn’t necessarily equal thankfulness. Yesterday (Thanksgiving) was a very bad day and I was having a really hard time actually acting out thankfulness. I think perspective is important, and I do love the Erwin quote. We were able to be there this summer for his sermon on gratitude and generosity that has been challenging me ever since.

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