There’s a good reason why “gratitude” sounds so much like “attitude.” Modern Science points out that having a thankful outlook all year round keeps us healthier, happier, and generally nicer-to-be-around type of people. But grateful behaviour has its challenges.
The “Counting Your Blessings” Conundrum
Last week during coffee break at city hall, one of my co-workers shared a Reader’s Digest puzzle involving a series of dominoes where you chose one of three optional solutions. Tieny, our Manager of Finance, watched over my shoulder. While I stared with my brows furrowed, trying to understand the question and count the dots on the dominoes, Tieny solved the puzzle—proving once again that math is not my strong suit.
Which can make counting one’s blessings a bit of a challenge. God has brought so many good things my way in 2015, I can’t keep up. A long-awaited book contract. Three of my original plays produced, two of them by professionals. An acting part in a local production. Best of all, a new grandson. (Linus Phillip Lester Erickson arrived October 4.) And that’s just the big things.
On days when I awake determined to be thankful for every little thing, it starts with the alarm clock. Despite its annoying personality, an alarm clock is a blessing, when you think about it. It means you have a reason to get up. Although I hate to leave it, I’m thankful for a comfortable bed. Then there’s my cozy bathrobe and slippers, a working bathroom, hot shower, grooming products, clothes, breakfast, a warm house, the ability to climb stairs, readily available drinking water, hands and feet and eyes that work, my Bible and the ability to read it, news and communication devices at my fingertips, machines to wash my clothes and dishes, gravity, clean air, sunshine, and garbage pick-up. And all before I leave the house to go to work!
So many blessings to count, so little time. How’s a mathematically-challenged girl like me supposed to stay on top of it? And with whom should I file such a complaint?
The “Object of Your Thanks” Conundrum
What about folks who have the counting thing down, but don’t know where to direct their thanks? After all, half of “Thanksgiving” is “giving,” and the giving of anything involves a recipient. The word implies that someone stands worthy of our gratefulness. Therein lies the greatest challenge for those who aren’t convinced such a person exists. Is it enough to stuff yourself with turkey and pumpkin pie and “throw your gratitude out to the universe?” Do you really think the universe cares?
God does. In fact, he delights in our gratitude. I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us he wills for us to give thanks in all things. To my way of thinking, if you can’t acknowledge the God who gave you all these good things, it’s rather hypocritical to take the day off and enjoy the feast. To remain true to yourself, you really ought to treat Thanksgiving Day like any other Monday. All or nothing.
But, what do I know? I can’t even add up all my blessings.