Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Nov. 20, 2009. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.
“Give thanks with a grateful heart.” The first line of a popular praise chorus came to mind early this morning.
It’s a melodic piece, one of those easy to sing without thinking too much about the meaning of the words. But today, as I thought forward to Thanksgiving, I pondered what it means to have a grateful heart.
We all know how easy it is to offer a glib “thank you” to someone without having heartfelt gratitude. As children, we often said “thank you” because our moms told us to. Hopefully, we’ve learned to be courteous enough to offer up the phrase when friends, co-workers or strangers do something nice for us.
Thursday, though, we’re all faced with a choice. We can breeze through turkey dinners, football games, family times and charitable efforts and keep just busy enough to avoid the actual giving of thanks.
Or we can dig deep and find a grateful heart.
Thankfulness comes from an appreciation of what we do have. It doesn’t depend on what we’ve lost or things we’ve given up to save money because finances are tight.
Hopefulness and gratefulness go together as we put our faith to work and believe there will be better times ahead.
Attitudes about our circumstances have more to do with how we weather storms than how strong the storms are. If we continue to be grateful and learn some lessons from having to cut back here and there, we’ll be better managers of the blessings that come later.
Negative thinking never produces gratitude. Look at the glass as half-empty, and for you, it will never be half-full. It’s a struggle to keep from falling into the naysaying and badmouthing, but I find when I speak and think more positively, I can keep my balance in tough times.
Keeping an eye out for ways to help others who are struggling takes my mind off my woes and helps me see the wonder in little things.
You never know how much your gratitude can bless someone else. How long has it been since you hand-wrote a thank-you note to someone? How long has it been since you looked someone in the eye and thanked them with real appreciation for their efforts in your voice?
Only when I focus outward do I find more reasons to be thankful. The old adage is true. You don’t have to look far to see someone else who’s having a worse time than you.
Using our own gifts and talents to benefit others helps inspire gratitude. Folks all around us need something we can give them, and it’s not always something of material value. Some words of encouragement, a phone call or e-mail, a smile and a hug go a long way to ease someone else’s load. We can remind others to be thankful that someone does care enough to reach out to them.
I hope this Thanksgiving will be a time of offering true gratitude to others and to God.
It’s my prayer we will each find a way to “give thanks with a grateful heart” this year.