Last week I was leading a chapel for 60 or so preschool kids, talking about being thankful. I told them that being thankful is more than just saying "Thank You," although those are important words to say. I told them that we show our thankfulness by how we USE and TREAT what we've been given. That we show our gratitude for our hands when we use them to help someone or create art, but not when we hit. That we show our gratitude for our mouths and our voices when we sing songs or say nice things, but not when we call someone else a name.
As I was talking to these 3 and 4 year olds it hit me, as it often does when I'm teaching children, that these are lessons I need to learn as well. And so, here, a brief examination of some of the things that I am thankful for, and how I can show my gratitude in how I use and treat them.
I am thankful for my home - that it keeps me warm and dry (or cool and dry in the summer!), that it gives me a space to call my own and create a life with my family. I can show my gratitude for my home by creating in it an environment that is restful for my whole family, that provides space for playing and learning and loving. (this includes keeping it clean enough that I don't spend every moment in every room looking around in disgust, but too tired to do anything about it. I am working on this problem this week) I can take care of it,and fix the things that need fixing. I can show gratitude for my home by gladly welcoming others into it, for the afternoon or an extended stay.
I am grateful for my family, for my husband and child. I can show my gratitude for these gifts by carving out time for them, by enjoying who they are and not who I want them to be, by always assuming the best of them, by encouraging them and loving them unconditionally.
I am thankful for my body, for the amazing things that it does. I can show my gratitude for my physical being by putting foods into it that nourish it, rather than drain it. By exercising I can increase my health and my abilities, and thereby show my gratitude and my desire to keep this physical form. I can stop looking in the mirror and sighing in disgust at the imperfections I see, but rather marvel at my ability to pick up my child, skip through the sand, and dance to the music. By doing these things more often I show my thankfulness.
I am thankful for my God and my faith. I can show my gratitude for them by spending time deepening my relationship with God, and in trying to understand what He is calling me to do with my life. I can share my thankfulness with others, so that they might see the joy that I have in Him.
I am thankful for the gifts I have of performing - singing and acting. I can use these gifts humbly, without downplaying them and without making them to be more than they are. I can use them in the service of telling stories that connect us as human beings - that lift our spirit and challenge our thinking and help us find a common ground. I can sing praises and sing sorrow and sing comfort and sing joy. I can bring my gifts to the table in a spirit of unity and hope, and create art.
Oh... I could go on, but I don't want to bore you. Basically, though, I am trying to apply this to all areas of my life - if I am thankful for it, I need to LIVE out that gratitude. And if I am not thankful for it? Find a way to eliminate it, or find a way to be thankful for it.
What are YOU thankful for today, and how can you show your gratitude?