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!”


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?









6 thoughts on “Rethinking My Thanking

  1. A locus for deep thinking, Dave.

    One of the interesting things about thanking is that sometimes one will thank God for something that was reviled when it happened – and that is still negative.

    When My academic career ended, I was furious. I can’t talk about it specifically because I did sue the university and they settled – but it was many years’ work trashed.

    But if it hadn’t happened, Josie and Reebok – two Ridgeback sisters – would be dead, as they were scheduled for killing on the morning of a Tuesday, and we adopted them on the late afternoon of a Monday.

    How do you balance a career and pride against life? You don’t. It’s no contest, and I would not change the ‘career move’ that took place. Those small gentle noisy face-licking lives are worth it.

    • Thank you for sharing your personal story of the positive turn that pivots on a negative event. You have touched on a deep mystery–God’s love expressed and and His good purposes wrought through dark experiences and difficult circumstances.

  2. David: I’ve always said, I’ve learned more from my children than anyone else. They are honest. They are open …available to learn, to change.
    And having the privilege — yes, the privilege — of meeting Aaron, I know he’s going to teach you many, many things.

    • “[children] are honest. They are open …available to learn, to change.”
      I pray that more and more those things will characterize our own hearts. I am thankful that children are patient teachers.
      I do think you are right about Aaron:-) School is always in session.
      Thanks, Beth!

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