As loyal readers are no doubt aware, I have great parents. Part of what makes my parents great was their relationship with each other. One of the many things that I grew to appreciate about my parents is that whenever we went out to dinner, my mom told my dad “thank you.” It didn’t matter that they had been together since she was 16, had been married more than 30 years, and that sometimes “out to dinner” was a drive through Taco Bell, she still expressed her gratitude to my dad. And it wasn’t just for the sake of platitudes; my mom actually meant it.
This practice of expressing gratitude for something that we’ve come to expect is something I’ve adopted in my relationship with my own husband. I realized this as he drove for hours on a work trip that he had accompanied me on. In my mind, driving is something that a husband does. (I realize others may differ on this, and that’s o.k.) I’m grateful that my husband is willing to do so. The fact that I expect it, doesn’t mean I’m not appreciative for it.
This practice should also be true in my relationship with God. Cultivating a heart of gratitude, means recognizing that while I expect the sun to rise in the morning, it certainly doesn’t have to. The fact that it did, is something that I appreciate. This plays out in a variety of ways – big and small. Whether it’s my loving husband, the home we share, the friends God has placed in my life, or the fact that today I got to go to a job I love, I’ve been given so much. After awhile the bounty of His gifts can become routine. Instead of just accepting them, I need to remind myself of how appreciative I am for them, and express my thankfulness accordingly.
I think we are used to giving thanks for an unexpected blessing, when God grants our “unthinkable” request. However, may we increasingly be just as grateful for the gifts we’ve already been given, for the ones we’ve come to expect.