By Thomas Greenfield, M.REd., M.Ed., LPC, LADC
Tis the season to give thanks. It’s such an enjoyable time with family, eating good food IN ABUNDANCE and watching football or maybe even playing football in the yard. Most of all, we give thanks for the blessings of life. But who should be thanked for these blessings? Most certainly, we thank God FIRST, who is THE Ultimate Giver of the Ultimate Gift. This season, who else might The Giver lead us to thank?
We can be thankful for parents and grandparents, who have given sacrificially during our upbringing. We might also include teachers and school staff who have invested painstaking time into our intellectual growth. We can thank those who provide and cook the food we enjoy, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day!
Many are often overlooked when giving our thanks, those who do “little things” throughout every day. They share small acts of kindness which sadly go unnoticed and un-thanked. Are we a giver of thanks to all people in every situation? What does it mean to be a thanks-giver?
A Thanks-giver thanks those who hold doors open for others. He thanks those who yield their rightful spot in the check out line for a less-filled basket? He thanks the restaurant servers with a healthy tip and kind words of gratitude and appreciation.
A Thanks-giver gives thanks openly. He never holds back. When he is the benefit of an act of kindness, he openly expresses his gratitude. When he gives his thanks openly, others are blessed because they feel appreciated. Not only does he say thank you, but he may even pay it forward to the next person in need. In turn, future acts of kindness toward others may continue. Can you imagine a community where everyone openly gives thanks and then pays it forward?
A Thanks-giver gives thanks consistently. He is no respecter of persons, in that he never differentiates between someone who is worthy of his appreciation. There is no social status or hierarchy with a thanks-giver. He consistently gives thanks to each and every person who is a blessing to him, regardless of their socio-economic status. In fact, to a thanks-giver, there IS NO socio-economic status. All are equal to a thanks-giver, therefore all deserve gratitude when sharing an act of kindness.
A Thanks-giver gives thanks abundantly. He recognizes how much he has been given and returns the favor. When we stop and consider our many blessings of life: our family, our friends, our every breath and heartbeat, we cannot help but want to share blessings with others. A thanks-giver shares a kind word with the struggling friend. He shares an encouraging word with those in need. A thanks-giver abundantly shares his gratitude, his words of kindness and most of all his life.
A story is told about Edward Spencer, a ministry student in Evanston, Illinois, who saved the lives of many people when a ship was grounded on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston. It happened in 1860 when this young student repeatedly waded into the frigid lake waters and rescued 17 passengers. As a result, his health was permanently damaged and he suffered ailments the remainder of his life. Not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.
Sadly, this happens too often in our society. Only by our cognitive choice can we become a Thanks-giver. The Light says, “Yes, God will give you much so that you can give away much, and when we take your gifts to those who need them they will break out into thanksgiving and praise to God for your help. So two good things happen as a result of your gifts: those in need are helped and they overflow with thanks” (2 Cor 9:11-12 TLB).
Thanks-givers who give openly, consistently and abundantly start by recognizing that blessings have been given to them openly, consistently and abundantly. Their focus is not on what they don’t have, rather on the blessings they DO have. Their hearts are so full of thanks, they can do no other than to give thanks. Be a Thanks-giver, not only on Thanksgiving Day but every day. Make it a natural part of the thinking and the thanking processes. Let The Light guide you.