It’s Not About Being Grateful

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“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

In a book study years ago, a group leader chose a topic each week for us to discuss. Gratitude came up often, especially around Thanksgiving. Everyone gushed gratitude until my turn when I’d say, “I’m grateful I don’t have to be grateful for anything.”

So, when the story came up in church about the lepers (Luke 17:11-19), the one about 10 of them being healed, but only one coming back to thank Jesus, I thought, I’m good with this now. I’ve had a change of heart and I’m all about gratitude. 

That was, until Rev. Stu Boehmig said, “The story’s not about being grateful.”

Huh? Then what is it about?

It never occurred to me the nine men who were healed from leprosy were, of course, grateful. After all, their healing meant being spared isolation. They were allowed to again worship in the synagogue, allowed to hug spouses and children who they couldn’t touch prior to their recovery, and given a second chance at life instead of physically deteriorating.

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However, only one made the effort to come back. Only one chased down Jesus and thanked him. Only one lived out his gratitude. Here’s what Biblegateway.com has to say about Ten Lepers and a Samaritan’s Faith when only the foreigner returns to give thanks, “Now what Jesus praises here is the Samaritan’s initiative.”

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

The story’s about action.

And it reminds me of a funny tale about our daughter’s former friend. He didn’t do much, but I’d come to his defense anyway and say, “He has potential.” It turned into a witticism when my father-in-law asked, “Potential to do what? It’s not helping him much.” From then on, we’d say about anyone who wasted their time and talent, “But they have potential … ”

Since the sermon, I’ve thought about my own healing from “leprosy” – a couple of years of isolation and deteriorating mental health due to depression – and how grateful I ought to be. Some people aren’t given a second chance when they suffer a debilitating mental illness. They disappear into alcohol or a pill bottle, an institution, or a grave.

I’ve also thought about turning my potential for gratitude into a practice of gratitude. I am grateful, just like the nine lepers were grateful, but it’s the tenth one who put his potential into practice. He took action.

Intentional. Deliberate. Purposeful.

And here’s the enlightening (and Twilight Zone-y) part of all of this for me. I glanced through the church bulletin to fact check this post when I noticed, after years of reading it, the name of the final prayer the congregation prays together – Prayer of Thanksgiving. No wonder I get choked up every time I say out loud, “And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you … ”

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

My heart’s known for a while I’ve needed to do “thank you” instead of mouth it. And you know I’m going to tie this into getting our own lives, right? Gratitude is our way forward.

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the images, Pixabay.com.

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13 responses »

  1. This is exactly what I have been processing the last few days until I finally just could not contain my feelings about it any more. I know that people are grateful when I do things that surprise them, help them, and even encourage them. But sometimes it would be nice for at least one to hunt me down and say “thank you” just once. There is so much value in Thank you! It means you care enough and value the person enough to show them you are grateful. Back in the day, please and thank you were the norm. Not so much today. Guess the newer generation should learn a good thank you every now and then is good for their soul! I love this post and I think I just might share it on facebook! Love you

    • Hahaha, Jenine. You sound fired up like I get. I have to write my post, calm down, and rewrite it. Sometimes John encourages me to put it out there on fire, but I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. It would be nice to slap a “thank you” out of them sometimes. 😀

      Thanks for passing it along. I love you! ❤

  2. From Facebook (Connie Roger’s page) ~

    As I read from my friend Kim Henson’s page this morning. I realized life is about “Gratitude”!
    We all should have a heart of gratitude for God, family and life and our future.
    “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

    My heart’s known for a while I’ve needed to do“thank you” instead of mouth it. And you know I’m going to tie this into getting our own lives, right? Gratitude is our way forward. By Kim Henson
    Get out and vote today and be thankful you have the freedom to do so. Smile at someone today it will touch a life.

    You, Karen Hucks Weisen, Gail Altman and 19 others

    Sonya McKimmey Fields Emily Fields went to Atlanta last night to The Grove and that was the message there too!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs

    Connie Rogers Really! Cool
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs

    Sonya McKimmey Fields She posted in Instagram.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs

    Connie Rogers Sonya McKimmey Fields Emily posted it
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs

    Gail Altman So very true.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · 3 hrs

    Kim Henson It was so much fun to stumble onto your post, Connie Rogers. Thank you for sharing. ❤
    Like · Reply · Just now

  3. From Facebook (Kim Henson) ~

    Mary Blackmon, Susannah Friis and 17 others

    2 shares (Mary Blackmon and Karen Jantzi)

    Tammy James Quinn Love love love. I feel that lump more and more. ❤
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · November 7 at 11:21pm

    Kim Henson Me too, Tammy James Quinn … and I'm grateful. ❤
    Like · Reply · 1 · November 8 at 1:14am

    Delilah Lewis Love every one.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · November 8 at 12:08pm · Edited

    Kim Henson Love you, Delilah Lewis! ❤
    Like · Reply · November 8 at 1:25pm

  4. Thanks for the beautiful reminder, Kim. When I read this, I thought about 2 instances when I was grateful for people being in my life and helping me. I kept thinking I should send them a note and express my gratitude, but unfortunately, both died before I had the chance to do that. It brought home the lesson about taking initiative.

    • Awe, Mary, it’s wonderful when we have those grateful feelings, and I believe, somehow, our family and friends know it even after we’re apart. ❤ I appreciated the reminder from the sermon that "thank you" is so much more than words.

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