Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the way I see it

I've been thinking a bit about gratitude lately. Not just because it's Thanksgiving and all (although that would be a good reason). I've had a few experiences recently that have gotten me to wondering if I am as grateful as I ought to be. I guess it depends on how you look at it.
The way I see it, I have room to grow.

A few weeks ago in Sacrament meeting, a soon-to-be-leaving missionary spoke. He was full of enthusiasm, and I loved listening to him. As he spoke, he touched on many different things, but it was all so genuine and sincere. A common thread was gratitude. One thing he said really touched me. It was something I've never heard before. He mentioned that we often think of gratitude and thankfulness as the same thing, but he reasoned that they are not. In his view, we can be thankful for many things. We may even find it easy to write a long list of things we are thankful for. (I could whip one up in an instant.) Gratitude, however, not only implies things we are glad about, but it actually changes the way we behave. If we are truly grateful for something, our behavior will be impacted because of it. True gratitude literally changes the very essence of who we are.

I don't know if this is just something he came up with, but I liked it all the same.

If this is true, then I should be very kind, warm, and loving. I would see the need of those around me, and I would strive to lift their burdens. I would be slower to complain, and quicker to praise. I would radiate happiness.

My life would be an exclamation of the blessings I have been given.

I would do more than make lists. I would live the gratitude. It would become real and life changing.

This past weekend I read a book titled, "Foreign Flowers", written by Peggy Rogers. Peggy founded the Zambia Scholarship Fund, which helps fund education in Zambia, Africa, and has devoted her life to this cause. (You can read more about it http://www.zambiascholarshipfund.org/. ) If you want to be inspired, you should read her story.

Peggy lives gratitude.

Peggy and her Christlike way of seeing the world has touched our family. Each time the girls have met her, she has taken the time to talk to them about the children in Zambia, showing them pictures and telling them stories. If only in a small way, she has changed the way they see the world. In one way, she has helped them to see how big the world is, and how vast its opportunities- how there is so much more than the little corner we call home. Yet in another way, she has helped us see how small the world is, how we all have the same needs, and how great our opportunity is to share and to lift.

This weekend, Courtney and the girls were watching a DVD, "Teach A Man To Fish", depicting the story of the scholarship fund and it's work. As they watched and listened to Zambian children tell about their day to day struggles, they were amazed at the poverty and suffering. As I worked in a nearby room, I heard Ryenne comment, "Wow, and I think I don't have any clothes." It's funny how your perspective changes when you watch a child proudly show you his two (and only) pairs of clothing, or hear him telling you how he washes his body with a stone because his family cannot afford soap.

Although it was all a bit depressing, we had reason to smile after the girls finished watching the DVD. Courtney told me that after it ended, Emmy turned to him and quietly said, "Well Dad, at least there is one good thing for them."

"Oh, what's that?" Courtney asked.

"They have really white teeth."

A month ago, I would have said I am a grateful person. After all, I can make one heck of a list. Now? I want to live my gratitude.

There again, it all depends on how you see it.

1 comment:

Darcie said...

Very insightful Kelly. I love the idea that gratitude changes you. My first thought was it causes us to be more humble.

I also loved hearing about the book you read and documentary the girls and Courtney watched. I'll need to look into that.

And tell Emmy she's right... they do have very white teeth! :)