“If the only prayer you ever said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart
Last night was Report Card Night at my school. From 4:30 to 7:00 the other counselors and I had the dubious duty of distributing report cards to parents. Like years past, turn out was low. If I had to guess I’d say it was about 3o%. not good. I certainly wish parents would take more of an interest in their children’s school related events, but because it is a low socio-economic area, I don’t see things changing any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, parents are supportive and turn out for their children’s elementary school events and middle school still draws a respectable amount. But by the time their kids get to high school, parental participation drops off big time, and that’s a fact! Sad but true.
Because I had to report back for work at 4:15 I didn’t even bother to go home. Why waste the gas to be home for less than an hour. At 3:10 I shut my office door and spent the time working until it was time to go over to the gym. I wish I could say that the evening passed quickly, but it didn’t. Fortunately I was able to read my latest Dean Koontz novel with the Kindle app on my phone, that helped some. My boss cut us lose at 6:45 and not a moment to soon, my phone battery was just about gone. I may have a smart phone but it’s equipped with a pretty moronic battery that doesn’t hold a charge for very long. There ought to be a law.
Anyway I was driving home on the 210 freeway when I spotted an older Volvo station wagon up ahead whose tail gate was covered with classic bumper stickers. Everything from “My Child’s an Honor Student”, “Save the Whales” and “Greenpeace”, to an old 2008 “Elect Obama”. Judging from the tone of some of the other stickers it was obviously a woman’s vehicle, a woman with a twisted sense of humor. Some of the better ‘women’ stickers included “Women are Great Leaders – You’re Following One”, “God is Coming and Boy is She Pissed!”,”Life’s a Bitch and so am I”, “Practice Safe Sex, Go Screw Yourself!”, and my favorite, ” Be Grateful! I Could Have Been Your Wife!”
Long after the woman had gone south on the 57 at the San Dimas Curve I was still thinking about that last bumper sticker. It was pretty funny, but I was really only thinking about the first 2 words “Be Grateful”. For some reason I couldn’t get them out of my mind. They reminded me of a poster I once had or seen somewhere back in the day. A poster or picture of the sun rising, glowing golden on the horizon, still visible in the dark sky near the top of the poster were the full moon and countless stars. I remember it said something like, “Let Gratitude shine” or “shine through” “Have you thanked God today?” I could see it pretty clearly in my minds eye but just couldn’t remember the time or place that I’d seen it.
The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that I’d seen it during my Shalom years, perhaps at the home of my friends Bob and Barbara or maybe the home of one of the other Shalom members. I wasn’t sure. I tried to picture Bob’s home at the time. It was an old stucco affair, typical of homes from the thirties or even older. It wasn’t far from the busy intersection of Azusa and Gladstone Avenues, yet it was built amidst an orange grove far enough away from the highway to block the noise. Once there you felt like you were out in the middle of the countryside, it was very peaceful. I remember a lion picture or painting in the living room but I’m not sure if it was there that I saw the poster. After a few minutes I gave up trying and drove on in silence.
Later at home, when I settled back to relax and watch some TV my thoughts returned to the poster. I was quite certain that it had said “Let your gratitude shine through… Have you thanked God today?” And as I sat there thinking I began to wonder, have I? Have I taken the time to thank God for all the gifts he’s bestowed upon me, for the life I have today, for family, friends and good fortune? I was always quick to curse Him when times were bad and blame Him for my own failings, but was I equally as quick to thank Him when things went right in my life? I don’t think so.
Gratitude as we all know is a feeling of thankfulness that is also beneficial to our emotional well being. Therefore instead of just feeling grateful about some things from time to time, we should be grateful for life in its entirety. The concept of gratitude should be a way of life, an attitude we should reflect in our daily lives. It’s much more than just a positive emotion, Living gratuitously can also improve our health, strengthen relationships and make us better human beings.Because it is an attitude it can also help us cope with the unexpected tragedy and loss life throws our way.
Too often we get caught up in our so called ‘pursuit of happiness’ and we begin to take things for granted. We forget that we alone are not the singular source of our success. Certainly drive, ambition and inner fortitude are essential to success, but to me ,the idea of a self made man is laughable. There is no such thing. Show me a man or woman who claims they have achieved their success all on their own and I’ll show you an arrogant fool! Where do they thing those driving forces originate? Do they really believe they generate them from within, all on their own? I think not.
I actually feel sorry for anyone who believes and professes that they’ve made it all on there own! “I did this and I did that”, “I worked my ass off”, “I worked my fingers to the bone”, “I did it! I made it” It makes me sick! These pretentious, egomaniacs should be ashamed of themselves for having forgotten the true source of their good fortune. They’ve forgotten that all good things begin and end with God.
How many times have we watched the Academy Awards and seen recipient after recipient go up to receive their golden ‘oscar’, what they consider to be the grandest reward, the epitome of their craft, and they go on and on thanking everybody’s brother for contributing to their success. Seldom do they thank God who gave them their talent to begin with. Oh a few do, but only a very few. I tell you, having an attitude of gratitude is life changing. Learn to be thankful for everything, even the negative. Remember that those things that don’t work out or cause us pain also serve a purpose. We learn and grow from these instances. Giving thanks for them serves as a reminder that there is good in just about everything that crosses our life path.
How often do you take the time to thank God for the gift of life and all he has provided for you? If you’re anything like me, it’s not often enough. But I’m definitely going to be working on it. That brings me back to the original question here. “Have You thanked God today?” “Well, have you?
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to? Be thankful when you don’t know something For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow. Be thankful for your limitations Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character. Be thankful for your mistakes They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference. It is easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown ~