I remember when I was a kid, my dad would always tell me that he’d take away my toys or make me work (illegally but I didn’t know what that meant) or take me to the small village in China where he grew up and leave me there… just so I’d understand and appreciate what I have here in Canada. And I was like, whatever. Not because I was being disrespectful (well, maybe a little), but mostly because I really didn’t know what he was talking about. I mean, I appreciated what I have. I would cherish every toy and game I’d get. I was genuinely thankful and grateful for how good I had it. So what he said to me made no sense.
But then I had kids of my own… and oh what he said totally made sense.
We can say “thank you” and all that a lot and honestly think that we mean it, but what I now realise my dad was saying all along is that a truly thankful attitude isn’t one that just says thank you, but lives in a way that is appreciative of everything and doesn’t take it for granted nor does it expect more. A truly grateful attitude is one that is content with what it already has, as it realises that what it has now is more than what it had before it has what it has now. This attitude is humble, sincere, and not selfish or filled with a sense of entitlement.
And I see now how my kids don’t have this attitude, nor did I when I was a kid.
But it’s an attitude that is important to have, and one that it promoted on days like next week, our Canadian Thanksgiving.
Here we have stories that tell us to be thankful and appreciate what we have. We are reminded of how we’ve been blessed and how much God provides for our lives. We are given reasons to celebrate and sing praises.
But we don’t always remember, for sure. And I think a big part of that is our attitudes around entitlement and privilege. I look at the gospel story, and how the people following Jesus kept wanting food. They felt like they had it before (for free, no less), so really they should have it again. So much that they’ve lost sight of the bread of life that was in front of them the whole time.
What reasons do we have to be thankful? In what ways have our prayers and hopes been answered? Where do we see God acting with grace and mercy in our lives?
While I look at how my kids aren’t thankful nor was I as a kid, I see more and more how I’m still not a very thankful person. I mean, instead of complaining about how my kids aren’t thankful, I can be thankful that I even have kids to complain about. Instead of complaining that my dad was so hard on me when I was a kid (and into much of my adult life now that I think about it), I can be thankful that I had a dad who worked so hard to make sure his kids would even be able to go to post secondary school and how he supported all of us through it all. Instead of worrying about how God would punish us when we do wrong, we can be confident in God’s promise to bless us even while we sin.
There is much to be thankful for, and I hope those things constantly come to mind that our attitudes around life always be bright and positive.
Thanks be to God! Have a great week, everyone!