Christian Therapy: Being Thankful (Part 3 of 4).
Greetings. As we approach the holiday season and especially my favorite time of the year, Thanksgiving, I thought I would invite you to reflect upon the importance of thanks. My hope is that you will find a way to cultivate a heart of gratitude.
I don’t know what words you would describe or define what being thankful means to you. I know that when I am thankful, I acknowledge that I have received a gift, I recognize the value of the gift, and I appreciate the intentions of the donor. The benefit, gift or personal gain for me might be material or emotional or spiritual. Being thankful means an acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life and recognizing that the source of this goodness comes or lies outside of the person. Someone or something outside of you just wants to give you a good gift.
So when we reflect upon 2014, I want you to think and remember what gift have you received this past year in which you do appreciate the person who has given it to you and you can acknowledge the intentions of the donor. For the sake of this blog, I want you to reflect upon gratitude in your spiritual, emotional, relational or material life.
How did your relationships go in 2014? Did you gain new friends, hold onto old friends, or go deeper with the close people in your life? Having and being a friend is crucial to our lives. Barbara Streisand sang years ago a song that is so true to our living a good and thankful life: “But first be a person who needs people. People, who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.”
Do you need and do you value forming close relationships with people? Can you say you do need people and can you see how having healthy people in your life is a good thing and can lead to feeling, you are the luckiest person in the world? Not because you have more than enough money in the bank, but because you have more than enough great friends and people that you need for your life.
For example, most plants need three things for it to grow: soil, light and water. All plants will live and grow when it has just enough soil so the roots can grow, just enough light so the leaves will grow and just enough water so the trunk and branches can grow. Take away any of these three things and a plant will die.
In the same way, you do need people. Without people, you will start to die and you will not be happy. Thankful and grateful people place a high value on needing people in their life. Sure, being a lone ranger or a John Wayne for a period of time might be good but overall, eventually long periods of isolation, having no people or friends will lead to loneliness and this will lead to depression. A lonely life or an isolated life will cause you to start to wither and fade away.
So in looking back of 2014, can you say you are thankful for needing people? If you were to sit down and make a list of the most important friendships in your life, could you come up with five to ten names or more for 2014? Once you come up with this list of people you have needed, let me ask you also to consider these three questions in your relationships with them:
What have I received from them (kind words, helpful actions, being there for you, how they have given of themselves to you, spent time with you, encouraged or enriched you)?
What have I given to them (acts of kindness, going out of your way to help, various acts of giving back your time, money, efforts, encouragement)?
What areas of life have I helped them grow or conflicts we have worked through (maybe resolving personal conflicts with your spouse or family, helping a friend find a job, participating in helping a church or organization thrive, resolving and reconciling problems with people)?
So be a person who needs people. Focus on ways you have received love and acts of kindness from others and ways in which you also are thankful for the ways you have given back to others? Receiving from others what you need and then giving back to others what you need is a good thing. When you are participating in a mutual trusting respecting giving and receiving with others, you should have a life that is grateful and thankful. Look back over 2014 with an attitude of thanksgiving for being a lucky person, a person you needs others. Thanks for reading.