Knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement from a Christian perspective is my goal. I post a weekly commentary, which could be about world events or the events of my week. Other days I might share stories, recipes, homemaking tips, book reviews, political talk, biblical truth, or other blogs and websites I like. This blog is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
THE POWER OF THANK YOU
I love a great story, especially one that inspires me. The December Reader's Digest contains a great story about a man who had reached his breaking point. John Kralik's law firm was losing money and its lease. He was being sued and he was going through a difficult divorce. Some days he was so preoccupied with his problems that he walked into the street without checking for a Walk sign. One day a car missed him with a honk of the horn, and John wondered whether he might be better off if he had been hit.
He didn't want to die exactly, but he craved the peace he might have in a hospital room. His list of problems grew when the woman he had been dating broke up with him. Hoping to clear his mind, he went for a hike on New Year's Day in the mountains alone. Only his inner voice that kept saying, "Loser" went with him. While hiking, John became lost and he worried that he wouldn't find his way back home before dark. Then he heard a voice.
"Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, You will not receive the things you want." was the voice's message. He couldn't explain the voice, but he knew the message was important. After walking 15 miles, he finally made it home. And John had an idea. Every day he would find one person to whom he would write a Thank You note.
He sent the first note to his older son, thanking him for the Christmas gift he had given him, a single-cup coffee maker. When he signed the card, See you soon, he realized that he hadn't made an effort to spend time with his son, aside from a major holiday. He didn't even have his son's address. So he called him and his son suggested they get together for lunch. During that meeting, his son repaid a $4,000 loan that the father had forgotten about. His son was selling real estate and had received his first big commission.
After this strange and wondrous visit with his son, John wrote to him again, thanking him for repayment of the loan and being true to his word. He also wrote to his younger son pointing out the positive changes that were taking place in his life...a new job and a clean, organized apartment. John was becoming a cheering section for his children and building a closer relationship with them by sending Thank You notes.
By February, John was sending Thank You notes in all directions. It made him realize how many people he had neglected to appreciate. He sent a thank you note to his apartment manager when he responded quickly to a toilet that wouldn't stop running. John suffered from insomnia and that week he blamed the noisy toilet. Shortly after thanking Mr Roberts, John discovered that the man had died. He decided to go to his funeral and was surprised to see so many people there because he was an odd man with a spooky presence.
Mr Roberts had liver cancer and had been waiting for a transplant that never came. When he was trying to fix that toilet, he was in the last days of his life. At the funeral, John spoke to Mr. Roberts' wife and was told that he was "such a people person." He had misjudged this dying man and was now grateful that his last words to him were words of appreciation.
Like John, I've learned to express appreciation too. Of course I have frustrating days that lead me to complain at times. That's part of the human condition, especially in today's hectic world. And being a writer gives me a certain literary license to share frustrations people can relate to and maybe get a laugh from, like the many mishaps that can ruin my day, which I wrote about weeks ago in "Life In The Spin Cycle."
I have moments where I throw up my hands and say, "Lord, could you give me a break?" But more often I have joyful moments and I'm extremely grateful for so many things, so many people, and I don't hesitate to show it. I've given flowers to teachers and bus drivers, baked cookies for the mail lady, brought gifts to neighbors, and I've sent countless Thank You cards for every reason imaginable. The last card I sent was addressed to the mother of my son's best friend. I thanked her for raising such a thoughtful young man who has been a cherished friend to my son. What mother wouldn't love to hear that?
I've said my share of Thank You's and I'll say many more as the years go by. Since my husband reads my blog, I'm including a Thank You to him. James, I love you and I appreciate that you take an interest in my writing. That means the world to me. Also, I fell in love with your sense of humor many years ago. And although you act like a goofball at times, I would rather have laughter in my life than grouchiness. And although you are a bit too thrifty, I'm grateful that I'm married to someone who's conservative with money. Your frugal ways have gotten us out of debt while people much older than us are still making house payments.
And while I'm at it, I must include a Thank You to the other person in our home, my beautiful daughter, Delaina. Lainy, you have your dad's sense of humor and it is such a wonderful thing. I'm so glad you're in my life. Thank you for being who you are...my talented, silly, girl. You are such a smart cookie! So determined to get A's. I love your thoughtfulness and the way you love to make and give gifts. You and Kody have been my greatest gifts. I am so grateful that God blessed me with children.
I also count among my blessings some pretty terrific friends and a loving family. My dad died years ago, but my mom is living not too far from me. I'm grateful that she's healthy...still roller skating after seven decades of life. She's doing better than me. I gave up skating this year after falling and needing several chiropractic visits to fix me. The rest of my family, my brothers and sister, I cherish them. How boring my childhood would have been without them. How empty my life would be now without my siblings. I'm grateful that God blessed my parents with a house full of children.
As for my friends, I don't have a long list. What I have is quality friendships with a few fabulous ladies that I look forward to seeing at our monthly gatherings, which we call girl's night. Next month we're meeting at a restaurant. December is the only month we break from those yummy home-cooked meals we take turns making. Girl's night is a chatty time. We laugh, sometimes there are tears, and we always walk away from the evening feeling like we're part of something really special. Friends are a soft place to land when life gets messy. Friends take the edge off life and without close ties to other women, I feel an emptiness I can't explain.
My friends are my support group. They're my cheering section. They think it's great that I'm freelance writing and volunteering for good causes. My friends see the value in what I do, so they don't have all kinds of suggestions as to how I could "enrich" my life and get "further ahead" financially. They're not competing or comparing. They actually care about me and what makes me happy.
When someone celebrates your happiness as if it were her own good fortune, that's the sign of a true friend. How many people do you know that actually do that for you? Who comes to mind? If I were you, I'd show my gratitude to each one of them now, while they're here and the opportunity is available. That kind of friendship is a treasure that deserves doting over.
If we open our eyes, we can find treasure in every situation, in every moment of every day. And if we openly express our gratitude for those things, we set in motion a blessing that eventually returns to us in even greater measure. John Kralik learned that lesson and wrote a story about it, which ended up getting published in Readers Digest. He proved the power of a spoken, "Thank You" Those two simple words changed his life.
Kralik discovered something that made him richer than all the people he had envied. Never again would he question whether life was worth living. He started paying attention when he crossed the street. He learned that each day held something that he didn't want to miss.
Maybe that's why we set aside one day each year to remind us that Thanks giving is powerful stuff. Some of us really do need to be reminded. Happy Thanksgiving!