Thursday, April 19, 2007

Catching a Grateful Heart

As a mother, I’ve hit one of my most formidable challenges yet ... teaching my children gratitude in the face of a culture based on consumerism. The most vivid (and to my mind, shocking) evidence of “outside” influences on my children’s minds came earlier this week.

In reward for a significant accomplishment at school, we had purchased for Offspring #2 a toy he’d been drooling over for months. Every time the ad for this item showed up on TV, we were asked to pay attention to it, then given a litany of “really cool stuff” that could be accomplished if only this toy were added to the already overpopulated play area. The delight in this young one’s eyes as the toy was assembled, tried out and experimented with made the price tag worth it.

Then mere days later, this same offspring went into a crying, whining fit because Offspring #1 had birthday money to spend, and he did not. I attempted what seemed to be me to be a logical argument. “Now before you get all upset,” I soothed, “what special toy did you get just last week?” My darling child paused, thought, then replied, amid more tears, “I don’t know.”

I offered a reminder of the accomplishment for which the toy was a reward, but memory was not restored. All he could think of was the new toy now on the “must have” list.

Hubby and I discussed this distressing chain of events later that evening. We both recalled hearing parents lament our own lack of gratitude. That’s when we realized gratitude isn’t something we can “give” our children, like we give them new toys. It’s something we have to model, day after day, no matter how unaware they may seem.

This made me wonder how often my Heavenly Father bears the brunt of my ingratitude. I make a request, such as, “Please show me how to solve this plot problem.” He answers, I thank Him, and then I carry on. “Please give my manuscript favour in an editor’s eyes.” “Please help the book to sell well.” And so on.

I’m not suggesting my requests displease Him. Not at all. My understanding of Scripture is that He delights to hear what is on our hearts, and takes joy in meeting our requests when those requests are part of His plan for our ultimate best.

But how often do I thank Him for the things I didn’t ask for–relatively clean air to breathe, an abundant supply of healthy drinking water, the arrival of spring? Do I ever bother to thank Him again for prayers He answered months and years ago–my sister’s recovery from a stomach ailment, the unexpected income that paid bills, my husband’s repeated safety in various unsafe areas around the world?

Gratitude–it’s a gift that gives again and again. When I make even the smallest attempt to view my world with grateful eyes, I discover there’s more to thank Him for than I dreamed possible. May my gratefulness be so abundant that it also becomes contagious!

1 comment:

Deborah said...

Great post. Love the illustration involving the child and the toy.
I'm going to link to it from my blog.


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