What difference does it make to give thanks? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I always had a problem with this when I was growing up. My grandmother was one of those people big into manners. Whenever I got a gift, she would tell me to say thank you in a voice I look back on as patronizing. Being the kind of kid I was, it left me instead wanting to not say that to people.
That has “thankfully” changed.
Last night, I was doing some reading in a book called Time and Despondency. It’s a book on dealing with what we would call depression from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, but if you’re Protestant or Catholic, you’ll still get a lot out of it. The author talked about hearing a message from a Catholic who struggled all his life with major depression. He was asked once what a sign is that he would be entering depression again. His response was surprising.
Lack of gratitude.
The author then goes on to talk about how the Bible doesn’t really say to be thankful as much as it does to give thanks. It tells us to do the action. “But I don’t feel thankful right now.” So what? If you act only when you feel like it, that doesn’t merit you anything. The reality is you have to act contrary to your feelings.
I can attest to this in my own personal life. When I am depressed over something, I am not really grateful for anything. I look out the window and see the sky and the trees and the birds and people going about their lives and cats and dogs in our apartment complex and think “Who cares?” When something happens that changes my attitude, I look at those items differently. Has anything in the world itself changed? No. I have changed. That is the difference.
Many of you know that my wife Allie is in a facility now receiving in-depth therapy and medical treatment for BPD. It is my hopes she comes out of this a whole new woman. If you want to contribute to her ongoing fundraising to cover this, please do so here.
Today, she posted a picture of herself on Facebook with something she wrote about how she really is beautiful just as she is. I commented telling her I have been telling her that for years. I hope now she is starting to believe it. She replied with a personal thanks and a little smiling emoji.
You might think that’s cute.
I can tell you that that has easily been the highlight of my week if not my month so far.
With that comment, a cloud that had been hanging over my head really just vanished. Once again, nothing in the external world really changed. What changed was my attitude. It was easier to be pleasant around people and I was less bothered about things and I was genuinely happy about my life. Thus far, that hasn’t gone away.
By the way ladies, unless your husband is being needlessly crude, if he compliments you on your appearance, always say thank you at least. If a husband compliments his wife on her beauty and she argues against him, that cuts deeper than you know. The message you give him when you do that is “You’re a liar” or “You’re deluded.” Either way, you are insulting him. Just tell him thank you and that will make his day. If you want to make it more past that, that’s up to you, but thank you goes a long way.
It’s also interesting that the more you get thankful for someone in your life, the more you will really care about that person and genuinely love them. If you tell yourself that someone is a pain, well lo and behold, you will have a self-fulfilling prophecy. You may not be able to change other people directly, but you can sure change how you treat them.
Ultimately, this comes back to God. Did I give thanks to Him when I saw this message? Yep. Sure did. I intend to keep doing that. Hopefully, I will also learn to give thanks even when things aren’t going good in my life. It’s a command. God doesn’t say “Give thanks except when you don’t feel like it.” He says to give thanks regardless.
I encourage you then if you need encouragement, give thanks. If you don’t need it now, maybe that person you’re giving thanks to does need it. You don’t even have to know them. It could be the random person just doing their job. Give them gratitude and if you can, a little bit more. Not only will it make their day possibly, but you could get better service. (I remember working near a pizzeria once and I would go there on my lunch break. I noticed I had no problem getting service after I left a $5 tip one time.)
Remember, something could be little to you, but it could be huge for someone else. You could lift someone out of depression or even stop someone who is pondering suicide just by an act of kindness. Show love to that person, regardless of your mood. Everyone will be better for it.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)