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Friday, February 18, 2011

Unconditional Gratitude

Last week while in the car, I heard the DJ on Air One say something that really stuck in my brain. He was telling a story (which I'm ashamed to say I don't remember), and in the end, he said, "Now that's unconditional gratitude!" Hmmm. I wished I could rewind the radio so I could hear exactly what was his definition of "unconditional gratitude," but of course, that wasn't possible. So, I mulled it over in my mind. The kids were amazingly silent in their seats. It was like they sensed mommy must be thinking. Yay, kids! 

So, I turned the radio down a bit and really thought about unconditional gratitude. Of course, we all know what "unconditional love" is. I have it for my kids. Even when they leave the gate open so the sheep gets out, or leave the bathroom sink running all night, or lick the top of the tube of toothpaste. I think I have unconditional love for chocolate, too. But most of all, our incredible Lord has it for us. Even if we choose not to accept it. But unconditional gratitude? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I've heard it dozens of times, and probably said it dozens of times to our kids. But I think adding the term "unconditional" made it really resonate with me. 

How many times have I been grateful for the good things the Lord has blessed me with, while wondering what I've done wrong when a challenge comes my way? How often have I wallowed in self-pity over something I should have been unconditionally grateful for? Often, probably. I love that term: Unconditional Gratitude. No matter what. "Not limited," is the definition. I am so often limited in my gratefulness. I have much to be thankful for, and find it easy to tell the Lord "thank you" for those blessings. But it's harder to say "thank you" when a child of mine is consistently making bad choices, even with constant reminders. Thankfulness doesn't come naturally when one of our kids has issues relating to his or her traumatic life before being placed in our home, but I feel no one else will truly understand. It's hard to be thankful when I see my kids' behaviors as reflections of me and allow my pride to dictate how good of a parent I think I am (or am not). It's completely selfish, I know. And I don't say that flippantly. I'll say it again: it's completely selfish. 

I should be grateful in every circumstance; unconditionally. I should be praising the Lord amidst trials, and even amongst the monotony of everyday life. I should approach gratefulness as I do love. I would never love my kids "on condition of..." And so I should never be thanking the Lord "on condition of...". So, thank you, God. Thank you for everything. Thank you for the trials, the pain, the anxiety, the obstacles. Thank you for it all! 


Karen said...

And Shanti,

Isn't it amazing that we are to GIVE thanks, that it is a gift?! I'm reading Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts, and it has completely changed my attitude concerning gratitude. I used to see thankfulness as such an artificial, fake attitude. Now, I see it as a God-given opportunity...

Many thanks for the reminder,

Kacy said...

Amazingly written! Thanks for sharing!
Love, Kacy

Pappy said...

I love the term! I came to a point in my life when I suddenly realized that if I wasn't thankful for everything God had put me through or allowed me to go through, I couldn't possibly fully love myself, and if I couldn't love myself how could I love anyone else? Thanks for your clear explanation of this wonderful expression.

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