Different reasons for gratitude

“Do you know what ‘gratitude’ means?” I asked my 8-year-old a while back.

“It means you have a great attitude?” he answered, less than certainly. I smiled and assured him that was as good a definition as any dictionary could give.

As I write, two funeral programs stare back at me. Both men, young men, died earlier this year at ages less than mine. I’ve kept their faces on my desk as a reminder: Live this day with gratitude.

Gratitude opens my eyes to a world unseen by a clamoring, grasping nature. It slows me to the speed of appreciation. Here, people return to being fellow God-image bearers, not merely conduits of my advancement.

From this lookout, I bring a different cornucopia of blessings for which I’m thankful:

1. A cup of clean water – A missionary to Peru returned to the States on furlough recently. His most striking culture shock? The sheer availability of drinkable water. I’ve since quit complaining about the taste of tap water.

2. A high in the 70s – The stock market has averaged a 12% annual return a year since 1928. But in how many years has the return been 12%? Two. The average high temperature in Texas may be in the 70s. But on how many days is the high actually in the 70s? Not many. I’m thankful when it is.

3. A disability – We are all disabled in some form or fashion. Some of us more noticeably or more severely than others. But nothing puts life in perspective like a handicap. It seems irrational not to want to send back an illness, an injury, an abuse, a catastrophe. But many “victims” wouldn’t trade their stories. They learned too much. They became too much.

4. A vehicle – It may be sixteen years old with rips in its leather and a busted taillight, but my Land Cruiser still unlocks opportunity. Transportation creates disproportionate returns. It delivers knowledge, relationships, employment and enjoyment well beyond its raw value.

5. A good woman’s love – I can’t put it better than a song by Roots & Wings:

“A good woman’s love is sweet like the summer / It saves you like a shelter just when you need it the most / A good woman’s love is solid like a mountain / Like a road that just keeps winding, it goes on & on & on”

6. The strength to respond – Again from Roots & Wings:

“An honest man would know, once he’s finally found her / He better put his arms around her and never let her go / ‘Cause once you have a woman’s love / Treat her like no other, place nothing else above her / She’ll love you more than you could know / That’s a woman’s love”

7. A child’s resilience – As a parent, how many do-overs could you use? Instruction given more gently, patience given more liberally, perspective maintained more consistently. And yet kids bounce back like a trampoline: ready to forgive, willing to forget, hoping for the best from the people who brought them into this world.

In the words of my spiritual mentors, The Oak Ridge Boys:

“When you look down in those trusting eyes / That look to you, you realize / There’s a love that you can’t buy / Thank God for kids”

Kevin Thompson can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

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