“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18
Enter our home and you will be eagerly greeted by a Labrador Retriever. Greet her and she’ll trot off and return with a gift just for you- a shoe.
When Adi began bringing us shoes as a puppy, I would enthusiastically say “thank you” while prying her mouth open to remove it . Inadvertently, I trained her to release her “gift” to the hand with the words “thank you.”
Funny thing, Adi knows the difference between a fake and genuine “thank you.” It’s only for the later that she’ll hand over the shoe. For those who gratefully receive her gift, she’ll shower them with more Labby love. If your “thank you” is insincere, you try to pull it from her mouth, or ignore the gift, she’ll walk away looking for someone else to give it to. If she finds no grateful recipient, she’ll eventually drop the shoe in some random place.
A couple years ago, a statement in a sermon on gratitude made a lasting impact on my life. The pastor said, “By our silence our gratitude becomes ingratitude.” It got me thinking a lot about my unspoken gratitude. My reasons were horribly selfish and ranged from- in the moment I was distracted- to- I forgot – to – it’s something I took for granted – to- I wanted to say more than just “thank you” but just couldn’t piece together the words so I said nothing. I obviously needed a refresher on expressing gratitude.
In the days that followed, I found myself watching Adi and her shoe gifts and realized two things. First, when gratitude is left unexpressed, the gift is given to someone else or worse laid aside ungiven. Second, a gift can only be fully appreciated when it is graciously received.
Since then, I’ve sought to be mindful of giving gratitude in the moment for both the obvious and more subtle gifts people give like:
“Thank you for chatting with me,” I say to my daughter after she plops down next to me, shares her thoughts, and asks the questions she’s been mulling over.
“Thank you for working so hard to provide for our family,” I whisper into my husband’s ear as I give him a hug upon his return home from a 12-hour workday.
“Thank you for your kindness,” I tell the cashier after she has patiently helped the elderly woman ahead of me count out the exact change from her coin purse.
“Thank you for your service,” I express to the gentleman sitting next to me who is wearing a Vietnam veteran ball cap.
“Thank you for giving my Lab some love,” I state to the people who stop to spend time petting Adi.
Living out what I learned from this lesson has shown me that those two simple words of “thank you” encourage people to continue giving selflessly of themselves to others.
Lord Jesus, thank you for opening my eyes to my ingratitude, for forgiving my selfishness, and for growing in me a heart of gratitude. Thank you for all the people You’ve placed in my life who give me the precious gifts of their presence, their words, their laughter, and their encouragement. Amen
Devote yourselves to prayer. Being watchful and thankful.”Colossians 4:2
© 2019-2020, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan. All Rights Reserved