Do You Have an Attitude of Gratitude?

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Default image
When my wonderful nephew successfully completed his first year at Emory University, he came to visit me. My mother, my sister, and I are part of his family that he ordinarily doesn't see. To my delight, this fine young man chose to visit us in San Antonio when he had so many other ways to spend his limited vacation time.

I thought a lot about his visit before he came. I knew we would work, play, sing, laugh, cook, read, write, and explore together. And it became the desire of my heart that he would learn new and old stories and teachings that can sustain him in valley-lows and mountaintop-joys. During our days together, my heart yearns to help him develop a deeper faith in God and a heightened understanding of his preciousness in the sight of God. Mother Teresa captures these personal feelings in words: "We can do no great thing, only small things with great love."

I wanted my attitude of great love to speak volumes by the end of his visit. I knew all the small things would determine success, so I made a simple plan. My goal was to pass on three lessons about "attitudes of gratitude" given to me throughout the years: gratitude for family, gratitude for community, and gratitude for everyday miracles.

Gratitude for Family
All the little things in my family life made great impacts, starting with simple prayer, courtesy, and respect. We were expected to complete all tasks in excellent fashion or we would do them again and again until we got it right. Little things grew into big things later—big things like a commendable work ethic and recognition for home training. We lived by the mantra, "No fun until the race was won." But when that race came to a close, a hug, kiss, or special touch awaited each who crossed the finish line.

Gratitude for Community
Alice Walker reminds us that "Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week." Very early we learned that community service began at home and expanded itself to the neighborhood every day—in every way. One always spoke to others with respect. A hand out and a hand up were given willingly—as were shared gardens and encouragement. A smile was as essential as patience, timeliness, and relentless faith.

Gratitude for Everyday Miracles
It can be difficult to see miracles at first . . . but they are everywhere. Waking up and being whole . . . nature all around greeting us in silence and sound. Companionship and communication in myriad ways. Even the deep gift of sorrow eventually finds a grateful soul. Our lists of thankfulness should be ongoing and continuous.

I had a good feeling about this time I was about to share with my nephew. Armed with great love and a commitment to find little powerful ways to show appreciation for family, community, and everyday blessings, I knew our journey could be beautifully memorable. Once again Mother Teresa reminded me of the challenge ahead: "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier." Indeed, when my nephew left, he was better and happier and more grateful for all shared. As was I.