December 3, 2014

In times gone by to be diagnosed as a leper was a curse almost worse than death, for you were immediately expelled from the human race. And nobody—but nobody—was ever cured from it.

That’s why it was such a monumental event when Christ cured—not one—but ten lepers at once! St. Luke, the physician, noted such miracles in his Gospel. In the 17th book, he notes not just the ten-fold miracle, but also noted something else: Only one came back to thank his Lord. That Christ was not above noticing such things as gratitude or the lack of it is born out by his sadly asking the rhetorical question: “Where are the other nine?”

With all his multitudinous faults, David was an exception to the rule. Jeremy Taylor put it this way: “From David learn to give thanks for everything—every furrow in the Book of Psalms is sown with the seeds of Thanksgiving.”

I wish I could say I’ve personally experienced a considerably higher ratio in terms of my own giving, but I can’t: At best, one out of ten will thank me. And I’m lucky if I get that many. I’m convinced, however, that, generally speaking, gratitude has to be taught at home. Rarely does it flower spontaneously.

For most of twenty years now, I’ve gifted a significant number of Christmas in My Heart® books to the leadership of large Christian organizations. As certain as night follows day, I can be absolutely certain that the same people will thank me every last time; and the same people will not.

* * * * *

We have all once again celebrated the sacred holiday of Thanksgiving. How many of us, I wonder, really took time to thank God for our many blessings—the gifts of life, health, family, friendship, and so much more?

But what about this week, now that Thanksgiving is over for another year? Does our thankfulness end Thanksgiving night?

For many years now—but not nearly enough—, I have made the expression of gratitude into a great adventure. Are these unexpected expressions of gratitude received in ho hum fashion? Not on your life! It’s more like cold water to travelers dying of thirst.

About a month ago, at Lauderdale by the Sea in Florida, I couldn’t help but notice how extra delicious the vegetarian omelet was. I asked our waiter to relay my appreciation to the chef. He turned me down, saying: “Sir, I think it would mean more if you took time to thank him personally.” I followed his suggestion and finally found the chef in a hot windowless room; dark, cheerless, and dank. You should have seen the sunrise of joy on his face as he effusively thanked me again and again for taking the trouble to track him down and thank him personally!

I’ve made it a habit, whenever I discover someone who is going the proverbial “second mile” in any aspect of service to others, to take time to say “thank you”—not just generally but specifically, which means much more to the recipient.

Oh there are ever so many opportunities, each day of our lives, to say thank you. Often we completely forget to regularly thank those who are nearest and dearest to us.

Emerson maintained that “the gift without the giver is bare,” which reminds me of expensive Christmas cards some people mail us, that arrive with their names printed on it. And nothing else. Am I impressed? Not on your life! They could have said something! Or what about tipping in hotels and motels. It’s all too easy to just drop some dollar bills on a table, and leave it at that. But ah the day-brightening-difference to hospitality workers when I also write “Many thanks!” or “You keep our room beautiful!”

It is an industry axiom that for every person who sends us an unsolicited note of thanks, there are at least a hundred people who feel the same way but will never take the time to express that gratitude. That’s why I consider unsolicited thank you notes as pure gold!

* * * * *

So how about you? How many of our readers would like to join me in this great Gratitude Adventure?

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I want to thank you for your books Joe.I haven’t been able to get many of them. But they have been a real blessing to me and my church family.

  2. I thank God for you & Connie and all the board members @ the Zane Grey’s West Society who have enriched my life. I appreciate all the hard work you & the other
    leaders have done all those years. Thank you!!!!

  3. Thankfulness is a lifestyle; your stories all seem to have thankfulness woven into their very fiber, for me, that’s what makes them all so readable, so comforting! May our thankfulness only increase!

  4. Thank you, Dr. Joe for your unfailing devotion to the written word. It has given me hours of reading happiness. I am also impressed by today’s blog and while I try to thank people, I realize that I need to do it more. I know how touched I am when people thank me for what I do. And so kuddos to you Dr. Joe for reminding us. May God continue to bless you and all that you do for us.

  5. Many thanks to you, Dr Joe. For today’s blog reminding us that we can be more mindful of our gratitude and its expression to the giver. For the smile you put on my face every Wednesday morning as I open your blog with my cup of joe. For reminding me to stay vigilent to the importance of words and values. It is oh so easy to slip slide into today’s cultural slang and selfism. For the impact you made on my in HS English class. I still think of you and the classroom calendars the first of every month. Smile! I will join you into the great Gratitude Adventure. Many Blessings to you and your family in the Holidays and beyond!!

  6. Count me in, Dr. Joe. Thank you for reminding me to share those two words that mean so much to so the many who hear them so seldom.

  7. I must write that again… Thank you, Dr. Joe, for reminding me to share those two words that mean so much. Count me in.

  8. Loved the theme of this column, Joe! Thank you for sharing your thoughts — any you are an incredibly generous friend. One of my favorite expressions of gratitude is in resort restrooms during trips to Mexico. So many of the women at resorts are what I call ‘snorty’ and I don’t feel comfortable or enjoy spending time in the common areas such as around pools or relaxation lounges. When I visit the rest room, there’s always sure to be an almost invisible woman, who keeps the area spotless. Most women totally ignore her … but I love to speak a bit a very simple Spanish to her and express my gratitude (in addition to leaving a bit of a monetary tip). Just having her presence recognized, without fail, brings such a change to her very countenance. Love basking in the glow, as well as the reminder that we are all truly one in this journey of life. Thank YOU!

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