When my sons were little, they bought me the ugliest pair of boxer shorts I have ever seen. They were white with large lime green smiley faces all over them. I’m going to let you hold that image in your head. Large lime green smiley faces — can you imagine having to explain to the ER staff why I was wearing boxer shorts with lime green smiley faces?
I thanked the boys with the usual laughter and bad jokes, but the boys weren’t satisfied with my words of gratitude. “Put them on, Daddy,” they shouted. “Put them on!” So, with their joyful urging, I disappeared into the bedroom and put on the boxers. Of course, I had to model the shorts to my sons who were admiring their purchase.
I put the boxers in my drawer and hoped the boys would forget about them.
From time to time, the boys would wonder why I didn’t like the boxers they gave me. I do like them, I said. “But you don’t ever wear them,” they would sadly say. Overwhelmed by guilt, I would tell the boys I was wearing them tomorrow and that I had already laid them out to put on when I got out of my morning shower.
For the boys, my gratitude was about how much I thanked them for the gift or how sincere my words of thanks were; for them, my gratitude was only seen in my wearing the boxers. If I wore them, I liked them. If I didn’t wear them, I didn’t like them.
I wonder if God feels the same way? Does God ever look at our lives and wonder if we really like what He has given to us? Sure, I know we all say our thanks to God when we’re supposed to — we’re grateful for the food when we say the blessing at dinner, and we’re thankful for His grace and mercy when we sing in church — but I wonder if God, like my boys, looks to see if our thankfulness is lived as well as spoken?
Do we live gratefully?
Do we understand that life, every part of it, is a gift? Do we savor the beauty of our lives in every moment? Are we grateful for the sunshine and the storms? Are the opportunities in our lives adventures to be lived or burdens to be endured? Are our friends loved or just tolerated? Do we relish our time with Him, or is it something we endure until we get back to our “real lives?”
One of my friends is a very gifted musician. He can write, orchestrate, play and sing as well as anyone you know. You’ve heard his music. You would think with all of the success he’s had and continues to have with his music he’d be one of the happiest people you know. He’s not. He’s always worried that his music isn’t good enough. He always thinks that with one more take he can get the sound a quarter of an inch closer to perfect. In order to produce music as beautiful as you have ever heard, he ties himself in knots of anxiety worrying he’s not good enough. He makes himself, and everyone around him, miserable.
One day, when he was about to play, I could see his typical anxiety getting the best of him. I walked over to him and said, “You do know Jesus gave you the gift of music to enjoy. Music is something Jesus and you do together. It’s supposed to bring you joy just like He does.”
Do we know that? Do we know the gifts of God are given to us to bring us joy? That they are something we do together with Him?
My parents always wanted me to be sure and say “thank you” when someone gave me a gift.
And yes, saying thanks to God is important. My guess is, however, God would rather we live our thanks rather than just speaking them.
Happy Thanksgiving. Live Gratefully!