“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” (Cynthia Ozick)
When I was nine years old I had a terrible bicycle accident and broke my back in five places and fractured my skull. It is a miracle that I have been able to live a relatively normal life. However, through each day there has always been a constant concern; how to keep myself from hurting my somewhat fragile back. I wear special shoes, do special exercises and try to avoid circumstances that would put too much weight or strain upon my back.
Throughout the years many, many kind souls have helped me keep my back safe. My children and husband, my neighbors and friends have helped me lift and bend when I shouldn’t have been doing it.
I have to admit that even though I was grateful for the help that was rendered to me almost daily sometimes, I don’t think I often remembered to acknowledge God’s hand in the help until recently. Like a slowly blooming flower, my eyes continue to see my loving Heavenly Father’s hand in more and more of my life as each day goes by.
I have realized that being grateful for people feels wonderful. But, being grateful for people who are clearly the hands of God feels like a holy experience, and it transforms a heart forever. There is nothing like the moment when a person recognizes that the greatest being has chosen to look after and help the smallest; themselves.
The Moment of Deep Gratitude
The other day I did something I often do; I flew out of town for a speaking engagement. This was to be a quick trip. I would wake early, fly to Washington, speak at the conference for a short time, then quickly fly home to arrive in time for a family event.
When I travel I my luggage often weighs a lot. Since I often have to bring books with me to the conferences and events I attend I often have multiple boxes and a carry on and backpack. It is my only way to get everything there quickly, when I need it. When I have a traveling companion it isn’t too bad because I have help, but when I travel alone it takes faith for me to travel. I have to believe that someone will help me when I need it.
On this quick trip I had a box with me and two other bags. The box weighed about fifty pounds and had to be carried physically. In the course of this one-day trip, curbside attendants, passengers on multiple shuttle buses, rental car attendants, and women at the conference all helped me lift and carry the heavy box. Two men even helped me tape it up when I didn’t have tape to reseal it for the return flight. In all, in a short twelve-hour period over twelve people generously helped me without even being asked to. In fact, many of them insisted that I allow them to help me. And, when I reached the final parking lot where I would get into my own car a kind man even parked by the box on a curb to keep it safe until I could drive my car to it to pick it up. I had no idea he was even doing this until he jumped out of his car when he saw me pull up and lifted the box to my car without being asked.
When I got into my car and started driving the same man made sure I was able to find my way to the proper road by following me to make sure I was safe. He watched over me on a cold dark night when no one was there. He was an angel for me on my journey just like the many other men and women that day had been.
I wept as I drove. I was grateful for that man, and the other living angels too. But, most importantly I was grateful to my God. He did this for me. He touched the hearts of these people at the right times. He is the author of all goodness, and poured it out upon me that day. My heart was so full, I ended up praying a prayer of gratitude half the car ride home from the airport.
Acknowledging the Source Of Service Changes Things
No matter how small the act of love or service to another the moment in time, if seen properly, is a profound spiritual experience. Lives and relationships are changed by acknowledging the source of the goodness and the kind actions.
The word good means God-like. So, anything that happens that is of God is obviously good. It also stands to reason then that anything we recognize as truly good is of God.
All the moments that make us smile or touch our hearts are love notes from a caring, loving Father.
How You Say It Matters
It is often said that the some of the sweetest words a person can hear are the words thank you. It is true. Besides hearing the sound of our own names, gratitude is the most valuable speech to mankind. However, just saying the words isn’t what makes the gratitude so special. We all know people who have said grateful words without having a feeling of actually being grateful.
The feeling a person has in their heart when they speak the words of gratitude is so connective, so life changing and so loving that the people who are part of the powerful interchange will never see each other the same again. If either one of the people ever has a moment of failure in the future, the other will give them the benefit of the doubt and buoy them up because they have seen the goodness of their friend and know them to be valuable despite the mistake.
Gratitude not only shows love, but it is love. Gratitude can be the evidence of love, but it can also be the seed of love. And, once it is said and deeply felt the two people will be spiritually connected forever.
Say thank you this season in a spiritual way. Acknowledge God as the author of goodness and the inspiration behind the kindness you have felt, and recognize the words you say and the way you say them as a spiritual moment that will strengthen you and those around you. Practicing gratitude can make you happier and more spiritually strong.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” (Melody Beattie)
A sunrise, a perfect daisy, a warm blanket on a cold night, a smile from a stranger, and a pair of helping hands are the types of every day gifts we get that testify of God’s love for us. The number one message sent from heaven every day is love. And the twelve pairs of hands that held my heavy box that cold day a short time ago are his living angels bringing love to me. For this I am grateful…
Self-government is an important key to happiness in family life too.