This morning as my son and I were putting the finishing touches on his school teacher’s end of the year gift something came over me like a wave. Yes there was the normal wave of hurry…this I feel every morning as I try to speed up my son who has inherited his father’s amazing ability to not get in a rush about anything.
The wave of urgency that hit me this morning was quite different. I asked my son to make a card for his teacher (I know I know…what I got as a result was my fault for asking a boy to do this the morning I needed it!) I came back in the room ten minutes later to find one sentence sloppily written on a crumpled sheet of paper…and NO JOKE…I think there was a dried up booger on the back side of the paper!
The urgency began to build. Though I’m sure a 1st grade teacher would probably understand and even get a laugh out of such a note… as a ‘twice retired teacher’ myself, I just couldn’t even think of sending something like that to someone who had used many hours of her life to teach my son.
Joe and I smirked at each other as we tried to hide our desire to laugh out loud, and then together we guided our son to make an appropriate thank you note.
As I drove him to school, I felt the urgency get stronger and stronger….
As I watched my son walk on the sidewalk toward the school carrying the gift, the sense of urgency turned into a prayer… ‘Lord, teach Caleb to live a life that overflows with thankfulness!’
Having a thankful heart. I am learning that this is not a simple thing to teach a child these days.
One reason I think thankfulness is difficult to teach is because none of us have to wait on much of anything anymore. We don’t even have to wait for a classic show like ‘Wizard of Oz’ to come around once a year. Can’t you remember the excitement the week before it was to come on TV and the sadness when it was over because we all knew we had to wait another year to see it again.
Another reason I think it is so difficult to teach kids gratitude is because they hear a lot of complaining from the adults in their lives. (I am pointing a finger at myself right now!) We complain about the government. We criticize the schools and teachers. We gossip about neighbors, acquaintances, and even friends. We make known our dissatisfaction with what is going on at church. I would like to think that those little ears are shielded from all the negative talk, but I’m afraid it is not so.
The urgency I felt this morning was a strong desire to not only teach my kids to give thank you notes and gifts. (Though as a former teacher let me stand up and shout…give your child’s teacher fabulous, useful gifts…not useless junky gifts) I want to teach my kids to be able to rise above all the bellyaching that is so prevalent in our society and live lives that pour out gratitude to those around them.
Even when people and circumstances are not exactly as they want them to be, I want my kids to be thankful for the life journey that God has given them and the people and circumstances that they will encounter along the way.
I know that the best way to teach this to my kids is by guarding my words and modeling thankfulness with my actions.
This morning my Bible study lead me to these verses that I am going to be praying over my family and I thought I’d share them with you.
Colossians 2:6-7 (New Living Translation)
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Thankfulness is not about the absence of a booger on the back of a thank you card. It is not about the carefully ‘revised’ note that my son wrote. (good thing because he left the card on the coffee table this morning and forgot to take it with him to school.) Thankfulness is an overflow of our relationship with Christ and our foundation in the truth. May we all pour out Christ through our gratitude towards the people we encounter today! May our children see Christ in us as our actions pour out thankfulness to the people that God has placed in our lives.