This Thanksgiving Day is dedicated to feeling and expressing gratitude for our blessings. Are you grateful for who you are and the roles you have?
Two mothers, Tina and Katy, are watching the ball game of their oldest sons. Their boys play for the same team. Each mother has other children busily running around on the sidelines as well. Each mother attempts to support her ball-playing son by watching all his plays on the field, while also trying to keep her other children from causing any problems for onlookers or officials.
Tina’s 5-year-old daughter walks up to her 6-year-old son and says something. The son punches his sister. She whines to Mom to get her attention. Immediately, the son whines to Mom as well. Each are crying that the other did something mean to them. Tina ignores the situation and hopes it will go away so that she can see the game.
The children stop whining and start a new game. The game started by the son is “Truth and Dare.” He says “truth or dare” to his sister. No matter what she says he punches her. This goes on for a few minutes. The girl finally cries louder than before. Tina pulls the children aggressively by the arm and walks the whole family off the field. Now no one gets happiness. The son in the game no longer has his family as an audience, the mother doesn’t get to support her son, and the younger children don’t get to have play time.
Katy has two twin boys that are running around on the grass. One boy gets his foot tangled in a net and trips and falls because the other boy wouldn’t move out of his way when playing. The fallen boy cries in panic because he can’t get his foot out. The other boy whines that the other boy stepped on him.
Katy walks over to her children and helps the son get his foot loose from the net. She gives him a hug and begins to talk to the children. She walks back to her seat on the bleachers with her children each holding one of her hands. They sit next to her, on either side. She has corrected the problem, they seem calm, and she’s instituted a consequence. Katy’s able to continue to give her ball-playing son the attention he needs. Everyone is happy.
A Grateful Heart
Each situation explained here was caused by the selfishness, or meanness, of one child toward another. Each situation required a mother’s attention and correction. Each situation ended with a mother walking with her children. But, only one situation involved a grateful heart.
The situations contrast each other in these ways: Katy acted immediately on the situation, while Tina initially ignored the problem with her younger children. Because she ignored the situation, the mean behavior of Tina’s children increased. Katy remained calm about her crying children. Tina became emotional. Tina seemed annoyed that she needed to do teaching and correcting for her whining children. Katy’s children all got what they needed and ended up happy, while none of Tina’s children got what they needed from their mother and ended up sad. Katy was able to walk back to the game, but Tina had to remove her family from the game.
There’s one big difference between these two mothers. It’s the major reason why their similar situations ended so differently: the hearts of the mothers. Tina feels that these moments are the worst part of being a mother and feels annoyed. Tina takes the bad behaviors of the children personally because she doesn’t want to deal with it. By contrast, Katy is grateful for these moments she has to teach and correct her children. Her gratitude is a type of grace she has for her children. She credits God for helping her be gracious when a problem needs her attention. She’s blessed with the power of a grateful heart.
Grace in the Gratitude
The words grateful, gracious, and grace all come from the Latin word gratia, which means “out of good will, kindness, virtuous disposition, meekness, humility, patience, faith, [and] the free unmerited love and favor of God.”
When a person is grateful for blessings or for people, they’re acting with grace. When a person is gracious in life’s variety of situations, they’re also practicing grace.
To have gratitude is to be filled with grace. It’s a holy disposition that encourages kindness and patience in action. To feel gratitude is to feel a small piece of the love God has for us. No matter what evil we do, He always serves, loves and corrects us with patience and understanding.
For many, Thanksgiving Day is a day dedicated to feeling and expressing gratitude for our blessings. Are you grateful for who you are and the roles you have? A feeling of gratitude for your roles — whether parent, child, sister, employee or neighbor — changes your happiness level. To be grateful for who we are helps us develop a willing heart to do what is required of us because of who we were made to become. Gratitude is a step toward grace.
Katy, like so many gracious mothers, patiently helped her children overcome their problem, lovingly corrected them, and even allowed them to learn through consequences — but she did it all through grace with a spirit of gratitude. She chose to have this gratitude long before the soccer sign-ups were open. She deliberately taught herself early on that being a mother was beautiful, not torturous.
Have yourself a calm and grace-filled Thanksgiving and Christmas! Click here to see how you can qualify for free calmness cards and a free calmness audio class to help you with your gratitude goals.