I was visiting the home of a co-worker, sitting, chatting. Scanning her bedroom I settled on the spot above the head of her bed. There, fixed to the wall, were three small items. A picture, a scripture verse and a thank you card.
The card was from me.
A few weeks previously I had taken a few moments to thank her for the amazing work she was doing in her job. Here it was. Placed so that she could see it and be reminded every night and morning that someone simply said, “thank you”.
Those two words go deep and sometimes we forget that. They simply become the words of polite society. The lack of them a sign of bad manners. Rudeness, perhaps. Nothing more.
When my husband and I were engaged to be married, we were soaking in all the advice we could get. Go on weekly dates! Sacrificial love! Communication! Invest in intimacy! All the important and big ticket items was passed on. One couple said something that we would only understand years later, “Never, ever, stop saying, please and thank you”
I’ve thought about this a lot lately.
A friend was telling me about a simple lunch he was having with his leader. It was one of those, transition-wrapping-things-up type of lunches. As soon as I heard, I felt a feeling like a knife to my heart. The rest of the day I felt so down
Seeing this co-worker get thanked was bringing back a flood of memories where I had never been thanked. It was surprisingly painful.
I reflected on times when I had poured my life into a job, project or relationship and no one bothered to say, “thanks”. The impact I felt, even today, took me off guard.
I know there are times we throw tantrums when we don’t get the recognition we think we deserve. But, this was not a tantrum. I think I was feeling a healthy level of hurt. God was teaching me something.
Gratitude. It is not just about being polite and avoiding rudeness. It’s not simply good manners.
The Apostle Paul lists ungrateful people alongside those who slander, have no self-control, are conceited and treacherous. Let’s just say he doesn’t have a high regard for them.
This past week, I’ve been busy sorting through my own hurt and suddenly seeing gratitude very differently. I’m realising gratitude goes beyond good manners. Paul shows us it is so much deeper than that.
Gratitude says to a person, “I see you. I recognise you. I value you.”
A simple “thank you” can do that.
Gratitude moves a person beyond a simple cog in a machine.
Gratitude stops a gift from being an expected transaction.
Gratitude recognises gift-giving as a chance to connect hearts and relationship.
Gratitude affirms our dignity and humanity.
Gratitude says, “I don’t just affirm what you did, I affirm that I see you in the act.”
In the day to day transactions of life, gratitude boldly refuses to dehumanise. It refuses to say, “She has to do that, it’s her job” or “It’s just the teller at the bank” or “That’s just our tradition to give gifts”
It is one person saying to the other, “That act is valuable because you are valuable. I’m grateful.”
Researchers have found that children who say, “thank you” often also tend to be display more kindness, empathy and compassion towards others.
Gratitude is not just good social manners for children, it teaches them that others have intrinsic value.
I’m wondering where my lack of gratitude made people feel invisible. Where a simple “thank you” could have brought deeply needed value to human beings who sometimes do tedious work. When could my “thank you” have said, “I know your work is not just an obligation but an expression of your giftings and heart”?
I now know why we were told to never stop saying “please” and “thank you” in our marriage. What they were really saying is to never stop truly seeing each other in the daily mundane acts of life. Never stop saying, “I value you. I see you. I’m grateful.”
Grattitude. An act is valuable because the person is valuable.
Saying “thank you” is the daily practice of declaring a persons value in God’s eyes and ours.
Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks