Recently at Holy Trinity Brussels, we had a service in which we expressed our gratitude to God for life’s many blessings. For this, not only did we sing some classic thankfulness hymns (morning by morning new mercies I see!), various members, representing different life stages, shared what they were grateful for. From the teenager who was thankful for her friends and family to the 93 year old who was thankful for her life and for being remembered and visited by friends from our church, a consistent theme was gratitude for the relationships that people had and felt supported by.
Expressing gratitude for our significant relationships helps us not to take them for granted. In fact, it seems to be quite the opposite. The expression of gratitude in general helps us to be aware of what we have received from others and from ultimately God. “What do you have besides that which you have received?” is a question in Scripture which echoes today. Gratitude is our acknowledged answer to this question: nothing. This frees us from the need to hold on to anything — nothing is ours anyway. This frees us to let things come and go without the imperative of having needed to earn them or “utilize” them to their full potential (read here, exploit them) — as they are gifts which we steward for a time. Living gratefully frees us to celebrate little things, little victories, little blessings. And as we practice gratitude, we become better at it. Acknowledging more and more that we can be grateful for. This feds living a life out of abundance, instead of a sense of lack or scarcity, and this in turn makes us generous.
What can you do today to live more gratefully? What time can you make to be grateful? Perhaps you may want to sit down and list out things, people, circumstances, opportunities that you are grateful for. Maybe you want to do this with three things every day. Perhaps you want to take a risk and tell someone that you are grateful for them today — for what they have taught you, for how they have loved you, for how they have been there for you — it could be anything!