A Simple Thank You
I often have lunch in one of those sub shops where you walk down the line and tell the servers what you want on your sandwich. I like it because I can have the sub the way I want it, and not the way they decide I should have it.
When I’m in a line like that I tend to listen to what’s going on around me. I’m not eavesdropping exactly, just aware of the other voices in my vicinity. I’m trying not to be judgmental here (one of my grievous faults, I’m afraid), but I’m disappointed in the number of people who don’t say “please,” or “thanks.” I know—the people behind the counter are there to serve us, and we’re paying them to make our sandwiches, but as someone once said, “A simple word of thanks to a person who is just doing their job can make a difference.”
Why not? What does it cost us? Is it so much easier to say, “Let me have…” than, “Could I please have…?”
A lot of people would say that we’ve lost much of our politeness, that we don’t treat each other as kindly as we used to; but I’m not sure we’ve really gone downhill. I believe human nature hasn’t changed all that much since our first parents. After all, they didn’t show their gratitude to God, did they? As soon as God’s back was turned they disobeyed. God had given them a garden full of delights, but they demonstrated their ingratitude by eating from the one tree forbidden to them. Can we truly say our specie’s past is any better than its present?
I believe our ingratitude toward each other is a reflection of our ingratitude toward God. Sunday mornings I join the leadership of another church for a period of prayer at their altar. It has become so meaningful that I rarely miss. I am always impressed by the way their pastors thank God for everything—and I mean everything! God is thanked for getting them up in the morning, for the clothes on their backs, for guiding them to the church safely—even for the air (God’s air) that they breath. I am humbled by my own lack of gratitude, and each week try to emulate my colleagues more closely. They are living proof of what Ed Ringle said: “There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it.”
Sandra Defibaugh said, “There is one thing God can’t give us—that’s a grateful heart. That’s got to come from us. Our gratefulness is a gift to God for all He has done for us.” We talk about the gifts God gives us. Perhaps it’s time to think of the gift we can give to God.
How can we thank God? Let me suggest two ways.
Listen to William Arthur Ward: “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you’?” We know we should tithe. What if we tithed our time in gratitude? Let’s see: one tenth of 86,400 seconds would be 8,640 seconds, which would be 144 minutes. Could you be grateful for two hours and 24 minutes every day? Most of us waste that much time. Seems like at least part of it could be used to express gratitude to the God who is with us every second, and who gives us everything we have.
For the other way to express our gratitude let’s turn to John Fitzgerald Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
If we are grateful for what we have been given, we will indeed use gracious words in our conversation as well as in our prayers. We can’t forego verbal expressions of gratitude; but if we are truly grateful, then every day will be filled with gracious acts.
Kindness is a form of gratitude that never goes out of style.