A Measure of Thankfulness

thank·ful (th ngk f l) adj. 1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful. 2. Expressive of gratitude

For almost a month now, Facebook has been full of the daily “thankful” posts. Again I declined to participate. It isn’t because I’m not thankful. I am thankful for so many things! But to sit and think of a thing each day that I am thankful for just isn’t my style. Reading everyone’s lists of what they are thankful for got me thinking…

All November long or on Thanksgiving Day, people list things they are thankful for :
A job. Family. Friends. God’s grace. Toilet paper. Ranch dressing.
Whatever it may be.
These are the same people who all summer long complained on FB about said job or posted cryptic statuses about relationship problems, so excuse me if I don’t quite believe that they are suddenly “thankful” for these things a few months later.
And it never takes long for these people to stop posting about how appreciative they are and return to their old cranky selves.

I don’t think we actually know what it means to be thankful for something. If so, I fear we have forgotten. If I was to define thankfulness (especially around Thanksgiving) as I see it displayed all around me, here is what I would say:
Being thankful must mean making a list of all the good things in my life. Those are all the things I am supposed to be thankful for.

So what does it mean to be thankful? What does it really mean? Based on the definition at the beginning of the post and after lots of reflection on the matter, I have come to believe that thankfulness has two parts. And I believe that (espeically in America) we have failed to move past Part One.

Part One: Awareness of a benefit. This is where we get to make our lists of good things – blessings – and tell the world why we love them. It allows us to examine our lives and see all of the wonderful things God has blessed us with.

Part Two: Expression of gratitude. We have been led to believe that expressing gratitude means just saying “thank you”. This is false. I have recieved many a gift that I have thanked people for without actually being thankful. Haven’t we all? I can say I’m thankful all day long, but words are just words. So, in my opinion “expression” of gratitude means to SHOW gratitude – to prove your appreciation.

For example: If I am truly thankful for my family and friends I will aim to serve them and build them up in any way possible. My actions toward them will show my gratitude for them. If I am truly thankful for the job I have, I will work hard to be my best and be mindful of my co-workers and company. If I am truly thankful for God’s grace, I will live in a way that shows gratitude for the sacrifice that brought forgiveness. I will live in a manner worthy of my calling (Ephesians 4:1).

Our response to blessings, what we do with what we have been given….those are the true indicators of the measure of our thankfulness. I have to ask myself, how am I measuring up? Does my thankfulness end at my lips, or does it stem from my heart and compel me act?

I have an endless list of things to be thankful for today and every day. If I were to list them I would be here all night. So instead I will give a blanket statement that trumps all individual items on my list. I am thankful that every circumstance in my life has led me to this moment right here, that God has chosen me for a purpose and that every day I am living under His grace and protection. I aim to live each day in an expression of gratitude, showing through my actions that I am truly thankful.

And to wrap it all up, a fun little story!
My friend’s 3 year old came out of her class at church a few weeks ago singing the same phrase over and over again. At first we had no idea what she was saying. When the words finally sunk into my brain, I instantly started laughing. She sang it on repeat for a LONG time:
Don’t be a turkey, just say thanks!!!


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