Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thoughts on Gratitude

Thoughts on gratitude that I gave at a campus-wide staff meeting last week.

Lately, the theme of gratitude has been coming up in my life.  And, even though Thanksgiving is still more than a month away, I decided that gratitude would be my topic for this morning.

It’s easy to think of gratitude on Thanksgiving, but it seems that once that day has passed, it’s even easier to fall into not being thankful until the next Thanksgiving.

But then I thought of people like Nic Vuijic, an Australian man with no arms and no legs who travels the world giving inspirational talks.  I watched a video of him on YouTube recently in which he talked about not giving up.  He demonstrated how even though it should be impossible to get up to a standing position from his stomach, he could do it.  He said that even if he failed 99 times, he’d still try.  And through this video he talked about how every day that he lives life, he is happy.  Happy.

And I thought, how many times do we repeat the same thing, thinking it is worthless?  It could be a task we find meaningless or mundane or even just  getting up every day, thinking we will be repeating many of the same tasks as the day before:  get ready in the morning, go to work, go home, eat dinner, deal with children if we have them, clean the house…so many things that can make it seem as if each day is mundane.
But can’t we find meaning in the mundane?

A few weeks ago at the If Jesus Were a Sophomore book discussion, we talked about where we can find God in the most ordinary of circumstances.  The author was surprised to find baseball being turned into God-activity and it altered his point of view.  He saw that what this church had done—starting a baseball league for inner-city youth, was just as much—if not more—of a way to see God at work than attending a church service, because it was meeting a desperate need for these children that would hopefully help to keep them off the streets.

Another person in the book wanted desperately to find God in the doing of life –working with youth, driving them to choir practice in a van, at the Laundromat.

So when I think about how Nic Vuijic is happy every day that he lives, it inspires me to be thankful for everything that I have and to look for the positive things in the most mundane aspects of life and even in the bad things that happen.

One thing that I have been trying to remind myself lately is that each day is brand new.  Each day we have is a new beginning, and each day we can look for things to be thankful for, no matter how small they are.
It could be things like being thankful for a working dishwasher, or thankful to have a conversation with a good friend, or thankful for dinner cooking at home in the crock pot.  It doesn’t have to be some big, grandiose thing.  The point is simply to be thankful.

And so here is a challenge for us all—what can we find, every day starting now, to be thankful for?  Keep a journal, scribble it down on a piece of paper, post it on Facebook, but be intentional about it.  Live a life of gratitude not just in November or on Thanksgiving Day, but every day.

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