The Power of Expressed Gratitude

The husband and I start family worship with the same question:

What are three things that you’re thankful for?

Most days we mention something about productivity, meetings going well, or laundry being put away. Sometimes I’ll say how he woke me up that morning to say good-bye or he’ll mention the popcorn I made just to his liking. The expressions aren’t always spouse-centric, but there are often so many reasons I’m grateful for him that it’s hard to deviate. 

From the very beginning, we’ve sought to express our gratitude instead of just feel it and, wonderfully, that habit has only increased with marriage.

I thank him for locking up every night, doing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom sink, bringing me flowers, making me Sabbath omelettes.

He thanks me for doing laundry, ironing his shirts, cooking and packing his lunches, and asking about his day.

I don’t thank him because it’s rare; I thank him because I appreciate it. I appreciate him. And instead of allowing his service to be forgotten in a string of routine, I choose to draw attention and say thank you. 

Thank you.

Some people cease to say thank you because I mean he’s a part of the family, isn’t he, why should he be thanked to do the dishes? She’s the woman of the home, isn’t she, so it’s good that she cooks, she shouldn’t be thanked. Gender role discussion aside, we say thank you because it’s kind. It’s done with a giving heart, a willing spirit, and with the mindset of service. What if I say thank you too much? It’ll lose its meaning. Maybe lip-service and meaningless platitudes,  but how can sincere gratitude grow old?

Photo by Olia Gozha on Unsplash

In addition to those closest to home, what if we said thank you to people that serve us even when it’s their job to do so?

I thank the wonderful woman for cleaning our apartment, because she makes our home beautiful and a delight to live in. 

I thank the stewardess for pouring my water after she offered me some, because I was thirsty and the water is so appreciated.

I thank the waiter for clearing our plates as we finish a discussion at a restaurant, because she does it to give us more space to delve into conversation.

Just because it’s “their job” doesn’t make them any less deserving or appreciative of gratitude. Some of my very best teacher days were when students or parents thanked me for “just” doing my job. It still meant so much. 

A good way to encourage humility of heart and to discourage an entitlement mentality is to express gratitude. Not just feel it. Say it. 

Furthermore, sometimes we long for something — a new job, a romantic relationship, enough money for a purchase, a reunion, healing — and then appreciate it for only as long as it’s novel. As the minutes or days go by, we find something else to long for and the giftedness of the blessing is lost on us. 

But remember when you were searching for that job?

Remember when you didn’t know how you were going to make ends meet?

Remember when you didn’t know how to reconcile with her? With him?

Remember when you weren’t sure you would pass that class, let alone excel?

Remember what He has done. List them all as far as your memory can reach: the gigantic answers to prayer and the quieter blessings as well. Then say thank you.

I’m seeking to remember and to say thank you to those involved, but above all to the One who is always involved. The Author of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Because every good and perfect thing is a gift. 

So. What are three things you’re thankful for?