I love pretty stationary – especially the kind where my name is printed in scrolly pastel font that makes me look like I hold a fancy title in a foreign land where I live in a castle with 100 obedient cats. I know it’s hard to believe an ordinary name on card stock can conjure all that. Yet a blank notecard isn’t limited by possibility, only its weighty perimeter.
Gratitude is kind of like the stationary we write thank you notes on. It’s limitless in the places it can go. There have been countless studies that extoll the merits of gratitude. It has the power to not only reshape our brains but almost every aspect related to a meaningful life. According to an article at Harvard Health Publishing, “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
We hear so much about gratitude in the month of November. We even see the word written in its own scrolly font as if it too ruled over its own castle. It’s a frilly word and we are given all kinds of suggestions of ways to harvest it in our lives presuming that the sole reason for growing it is to keep it for ourselves. We are told to stockpile it, meditate on it, and use it to make our lives more fulfilling.
Yet like so many positive messages that get twisted into an emphasis on self instead of others, we often forget how important it is to share gratitude. It means way more when it’s given away than when we keep it for ourselves. Gratitude gives life meaning, grows relationships, and sustains us during the times between the hardships and the harvest. So often we are encouraged to feel gratitude because it makes us feel better, happier, and healthier. While most of our gratitude originates from those whom we are closest to, it’s often these same people whom we neglect to share our appreciation. Instead of giving gratitude to the people we love we sometimes take them for granted instead.
Sometimes the words I’m most desperate to hear aren’t I love you, or I’m sorry, or even you look like a beautiful princess. It’s thank you. Thank you means you see me. It means you feel my care for you. It suggests that I’ve made life better. It makes me feel like I did something that matters and that matters more to me than all the fancy castles or loopy letters that curve around the prettiest stationery.
The plain but hardworking words thank you may be the best prayer we can ever say. In Ephesians 1:16 it reads “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” What if we were ceaseless in sharing gratitude? Can you imagine if people actually knew how much they were loved and appreciated how the world might change?
The exponential kindness of expressed gratitude is way more satisfying than the morsels we get from merely feeling it. Say thank you to everyone you can and see just how much more gratitude you have to give away. Don’t save it for the fancy stationery or the finery on Thanksgiving Day. Get it out now and throw it like its confetti from the top of a sky-covered castle. What joy it will be to see where it lands.
Hi all~ Admittedly, I wrote this more because I was feeling unappreciated than an altruistic desire to appreciate others. But I always say that God redeems all (because he does!) and this momentary suffering inspired me to be more generous with sharing gratitude. Doing so, reminded me that looking outside ourselves to make life better for others inevitably brings us closer to the the holy joy that is from God. That’s certainly something for which I’m thankful.
Also, I’ve had the joy of speaking at several events over the last few months and I am so grateful for all the warm-hearted people I’ve met who believe in the power of sharing God’s mercy to change lives. Y’all are amazing!
To all of you who share this journey with me, thank you. You give me such hope. ~ Lara