On Gratitude [and how saying ‘Thank You’ is changing my heart]

“Thank you for chatting with me”

He says it every single time we get off the phone. The man whose letters I find in my mailbox. He addresses them with silly names like ‘Princess Amidala Jackson’ and ‘The Queen’ and lets me irritate him on the phone when he should be studying the human body so that one day he can help hurting people.

Nearly a year of long-distance phone conversations and nearly every time, “Thank you.

And for some reason, it annoyed me. It rooted deep down in my ungrateful heart and let little lies grow from seeds to weeds until finally, one day, I decided that if he thanked me every day, he must not believe that I actually wanted to talk with him. Some Log sized problem must be wrong between us.

Go ahead. All of you shake your heads and roll your eyes and let out a deep chuckle.

The lies we believe when we’re insecure.

It’s important to me that I never take for granted your time or the ability to get to talk with you. So, I’m going to say thank you.

It was sort of a, “Deal with it.” comment that I left alone because afterwards I realized that I was being completely absurd and ungrateful and unreasonable.

Saying thank you. It seemed like such a little thing–an unnecessary thing. But maybe, it’s the most important thing.

Mostly, I realized the stark difference between his heart and mine. His was full of gratitude and mine was full of dissatisfaction. And that this dissatisfaction was seeping into my every day life. Into my relationships. Into my interactions with store clerks and customer service representatives. Co-workers and roommates and family members.

Into the way I prayed and into the way I thought God saw me.

I was neglecting to recognize the beauty in my life.

Because all around me, if I’m being honest, there are things to be dissatisfied with. Bombs are going off around the world and people are starving and refugees are left without homes. Babies are deserted on street corners.

Doctor appointments don’t go the way you expect and you’re given news that sends shivers of fear down your spine.The phone rings and it’s time to go to another funeral. Your family member can’t get out of bed.

Electric bills come and suddenly the quaint, sweet house I love living in seems a little less desirable. The jeans I wear almost every day rip during Bible Study. My car is leaking oil.

My list could go on. And I’m sure yours could do.

Because something in us–beneath our flesh–is programmed to be ungrateful. We are programmed to feel like we deserve more than we receive–that everything around us is unfair and unjust.

But buried deep beneath our fleshly aches and tendencies, is the truth spoken over us in The Beginning. The real way we were programmed. When The Word spoke over us His own words and said that “It was good.” And our eyes and hearts were only moved to recognize that it was.

Indeed, it was good.

Because anytime we are walking in the Garden with God, it is good. [and even now–doesn’t He promise to always walk with us?]

I think about the power of His words. The way He spoke life into being. And maybe, in order to remember that it really IS good, we have to speak it into being as well.

Maybe we have to train our hearts to turn to Him. To turn to gratitude. To put the things that cause us to be dissatisfied behind our shoulders and use our lips and our tongues and our souls and scream out ‘Thank you.”

I’ve been starting to do this. Whenever ungratefulness begins to root itself into my spirit–to take over– I look around me and just say it out loud. And it’s beginning to change my heart.

Thank you.

For Warm blankets. $1 Organic Kale. The sound of the birds chirping and the slow arrival of Spring. Today’s sunshine. For safety. For roommate Alias nights rolling three deep on the couch.

For memories of laughter that made my ribcage hurt. For a boy who prays over me and brings me coffee when I don’t deserve it. For shopping days with childhood friends and their babies.

For babies–all the babes. Their kissable little cheeks and their rolled up little toes.

For the ability to rest when my bones hurt and my heart is tired.

And for life in Jesus. And for Easter Sunday.

Thank You. Thank you. Thank you.

Maybe saying it–even when we don’t always think it or feel it or know it– is what helps us turn back to the giver who promises He gives good gifts. The Holy One who in the midst of death and pain and loss has orchestrated the greatest story of life ever told.

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