“Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of love…”
A friend shared this quote with me recently and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m completely taken with this picture of thankfulness as the language of love. I think that’s both beautiful and true.
I’m not always good at loving well –not my husband, not my friends and family, not God, and certainly not strangers. There are many moments in my life I look back on and wish I’d loved better.
The more I think about these words, the more I’m coming to believe that gratitude is an essential part of love. I’ve seen how this works in my marriage.
Jonathan and I have been together for almost eight years and while I don’t pretend that we’re perfect, one of my favorite things about our relationship is the way we still thank each other for everything. This is meaningful for us because saying thank you for things we could easily take for granted is more than just a polite habit. It is meaningful. It’s our way of saying, “I recognize that you did that chore, not because you had to, but because you love me.”
When Jonathan washes the dishes, he’s saying,” I love you,” and when I thank him I’m saying, “I see the way you’re loving me and I appreciate you.”
The thing about gratitude is that it turns our eyes away from ourselves. We can’t love well when we are focused on ourselves – when we’re immersed in our own wants and needs and worries and problems. Practicing gratitude is a way of looking outside of ourselves and recognizing both the gifts we are given every day and the givers behind them.
Gratitude isn’t about smoothing over and ignoring the evil in the world or the pain in our own lives. It isn’t about forcing a smile when our hearts are breaking or trying to put a smiley-faced band-aid on an open wound. It’s about acknowledging pain and struggle and marveling at glimmers of grace and goodness that break through that ugliness.
Gratitude doesn’t change our circumstances – it changes us.
Gratitude makes us generous because when we lose our sense of entitlement to the things we have, we no longer feel the need to hold onto it so tightly.
Gratitude combats discontentment because it reminds us how far we’ve come instead of how far we have to go.
Let us be people who let our haves count for more than our have-nots.
Let us be people who recognize the gifts strewn throughout the most ordinary moments of our days.
Let us be people who give with abandon because we are humbled by what we’ve already received.
Let us be people who speak the language of love.