Rethinking My Thanking

 

UNTHANKSEver since my wife shared my 5-year-old’s bedtime prayer, I’ve been rethinking my thanking.

Aaron’s prayers consist primarily of thanksgiving. So, on this particular night, he began working through his list.

“Thank you for this beautiful day”

“Thank you for my family”

“Thank you that we got to play at the park”

After offering up his gratitude for several things, his soft countenance hardened, and with emphatic hand gestures, he closed his prayer abrubtly with these words.

“And no thanks for Katia!”

“Amen.”

Now, that was funny.

Aaron always has a ready list of gifts for which to thank the Giver, but apparently the neighborhood girl found herself on a different list—a list of things for which he has no appreciation.

After chuckling about my son’s prayer, I began to reflect more upon it.

For Aaron, to pray is to thank. For him, to pray is to express sincere gratitude to God for gifts received. In that way, my child’s prayer life expresses a faith that is childlike.

By contrast, it occurred to me that his father’s prayers have historically expressed a faith that is childish.

I realized that, for a long time, I also had more than one list compiled in my heart. I had three:

  1. Acknowledgement of Entitlements Received
  2. Complaints Regarding Entitlements Withheld
  3. Grievances for Receipt of Things I Never Requested

What was eye-opening about contemplating my son’s prayers was that he sees so many things for the gifts they really are. Those same things have often been virtually invisible to me.

But–thank God–my spiritual eye-sight has been improving. And my heart is beginning to understand that offering up sincere gratitude not only magnifies the Giver, but actually completes the enjoyment of a gift received.

So, I’ve transferred everything from my “Entitlements” list to a “Gifts” list, and I’ve changed my “Grievances” list into a “Give Thanks Even in These Circumstances” list. Since then, I’ve discovered that thanksgiving makes the heart alive, and that a grateful spirit is a happy one.

What are you thinking (or rethinking) about thanking?