‘Tis the season to be grateful and Happy Thanksgiving! So what’s the big deal? Why is it important to be thankful?
For starters, let’s look at our lives if they exclude gratitude. When there is an absence of being thankful, I think this deficiency can lead to an entitlement mentality. This mentality is when we think that various blessings and benefits in life are owed to us. When we adopt this way of thinking it sets us up to be disappointed and we become very unpleasant people. When we don’t get what we think we deserve, then our emotions and thoughts can go into dark places. In contrast, I’ve found it very helpful to under-expect and over appreciate.
It’s also interesting to think about people and situations in our lives that are gratitude deficient. If you take a moment to reflect and inventory situations and people who don’t exhibit nor celebrate gratitude, I think you’ll find yourself having hurtful emotions and unpleasant thoughts. For example, I have frequently resented people and experiences where I’m expected and assumed to be helpful and engaged. It’s unpleasant to know that another person supposes for whatever reason, that I will be generous and helpful. It feels like the other person is taking advantage of me and that’s never pleasant.
As a contrast, I find myself eager and even extravagant to respond to gratitude. It’s interesting that I feel lots more generous when someone tells me, “Thank you.” When someone doesn’t express gratitude or is even gripey and unkind, I feel drastically less generous.
Maybe this was what Jesus was saying in Luke 17:9, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they?” On this occasion, Jesus happened upon ten lepers and He told them to go and show themselves to the priests. As they went, they were cleansed from their leprosy. One of the ten lepers turned back and expressed his gratitude to Jesus.
This makes me wonder, maybe like Jesus, what happened to the other nine lepers? Did they get overwhelmed or caught up in the healing from leprosy that they forgot to say “thanks”? Did they think that gratitude wasn’t important? Did they think it was too much effort to say thanks to the man who healed them? There can always be reasons, excuses and justifications for not expressing gratitude, but none of them reflect well on our interior values.
I think that Jesus was disappointed that the interior values of the other nine healed lepers didn’t include gratitude.
Furthermore, it’s possible that Jesus did some extra stuff for the grateful leper. I say this because of what Jesus told the grateful leper, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” In the Greek, the word “well” is sozo and it means to be saved, delivered and made whole. Of course, we don’t explicitly know if Jesus did more “stuff” for this grateful leper, but at a minimum, Jesus was very pleased with this man’s gratitude.
As we recognize the festivities for our annual Thanksgiving holiday, let’s remain committed to keeping gratitude as an interior value and lifestyle rather than merely one day on the yearly calendar. Let’s also keep doing our 3-2-1 challenge: 3 Gratitudes, 2 Graces and 1 Pause!