In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God…
I Thessalonians 5:18
Gratitude is a well-worn word in New Thought and New Age circles, but the concept of giving thanks is rooted in ancient texts in every culture. There is encouragement (above) from St. Paul to give thanks in ALL things and multiple Psalms and statements in the Hebrew Bible underscoring the importance of gratitude,…no matter what.
O give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; Make His deeds known among the peoples.
I Chronicles 16:8
While anyone can write a blog and made a grand statement, I have found that the truth quotient of a statement is directly proportional to the diversity of the sources citing it as a spiritual truth. In plain English; when a kernel of Truth shows up in the writings of ancient texts and teachings and continues to appear in writings across the ages it’s time to sit up and take note. Gratitude is one of these Truths.
An interesting twist on gratitude often missed in modern teachings is the need to be grateful in ALL things – not just the fun stuff. It’s easy to be grateful for a raise, an exciting new job, a handsome new man/beautiful new woman in your life or your brand new car. It’s not only hard, but it’s counterintuitive to be grateful for things that take money out of wallets, create pain and suffering or otherwise derail our plans for a carefree life, but here’s where the rubber hits the road when it comes to leveraging gratitude for the expansion of Good in our lives. Can we find ways to be grateful in the midst of life’s annoyances, aggravations and pain?
I have recently experienced a hat trick of unexpected bills, and I could make a pretty good case of why this is a terrible time for these to show up…but I won’t. I have chosen to see the good in each of these circumstances, and to bless them. Two weeks ago the battery in my car was dead one morning before work, and while it was almost $200 til I was back in business, I ended up spending the morning with my 75 year old father who came to jump my car and follow me to the store where the battery replacement took just long enough for us to go get breakfast at a local diner. When I think of that car battery, I give thanks for that precious time with my father and let’s face it – who doesn’t like breakfast out before work?!
I was admitted to the hospital the next week, so right after the battery purchase, hospital bills began to roll in. I have insurance but there are still bills to pay. Each time I open a bill I hold it up and give thanks for my clean bill of health; for the wonderfully-positive and curative experience I had while in the hospital and for my return to feeling better.
And if the opportunities presenting themselves to me are any indication, perhaps I need still a little more practice with this gratitude issue because the week after my surgery, my hot water tank broke down and $1,000 later, I now have a very nice, brand new hot water heater with a 12-year warranty. I give thanks every morning in that nice hot shower, and am thankful for the open credit I have on my Home Depot credit card that made the water heater issue a simple fix.
Certainly I could choose to moan and groan about the money that I am spending right now, but I believe that the magic power of gratitude kicks in when we can see past the superficial circumstances of our lives and into the truth.
I smile and pat the hood of my car on cold mornings, and say “Thank you!” for the new battery that easily starts my car. I remember the special breakfast time I got to spend with my father and know that no amount of money could equal that gift.
I look at my (small) scar and the bills that come in and speak gratitude for such a positive experience and the easy and effortless recovery I am making. I speak thanks for my paid time off; for the loving attention I got from my family; for my salary that keeps coming in so as I pay these bills, money flows in and replenishes my bank account. I smile and am filled with gratitude for the benefit of health insurance that gave me the opportunity to seek out the best doctors for my care.
Each time I go into my basement to do a load of laundry, I look lovingly at that thousand-dollar water tank and I admire it. It will serve me well for at least 12 years. It will make my mornings comfortable and 10-times the cost of the water heater will flow into my bank account many times over.
Walking a spiritual path does not guarantee the absence of bumps in the road. It does, however give us a choice in how we view them – AND – when we commit to seeing the opportunities for gratitude in each and every circumstance, our consciousness, our capacity for Good and our positive life experiences will expand. It’s our choice.
And so it is.