12 Nov 2006

Felt vs. Expressed

Thanksgiving. A time to remember and be thankful. This is the day we celebrate all that we have been given and we focus on being “Thankful”.

Recently, I have understood in a new way the importance of expressing my love, appreciation, and gratitude to others. If you ask me if I feel I am a grateful person, I would quickly respond, “Absolutely!” I am thankful for my salvation, husband, children, work, and ministry. I FEEL very grateful for almost everything, but if you ask me how often I take time to verbally express my gratitude to others, my response would be, “They just know.” How do I know they know? I told them at some point either last week or last month, or they should just know by all the things I do for them.

Here is the truth I am learning: FELT gratitude is NOT the same as EXPRESSED gratitude. Just because I feel grateful does not mean that people in my life know how much I appreciate them. Here is where this truth hits front and center. Our experience shows us that unexpressed gratitude could actually feel like rejection.

This is the time to think about those who have significantly lightened your load. It could be your husband as he has provided for your children to participate in some classes outside the home in order to give you a little break. It could be a friend who has shared some encouraging words with you along the way. It could be a grandparent who has taken the children on some events so you can focus your time with a specific child. It could be a teacher who has inspired your child or loved your child in a new way. It could be the director of a particular program in which your children participate. It could be the academic department that has kept you on track and provided answers for your future. It could be a coach who has spent many practice and game hours with your child.

They need to HEAR you say thank you. If they do not hear your words, they might wonder if their effort was appreciated or beneficial. They might even question whether it was worth their time to spend in a particular activity. They will not know that they have significantly ministered to you unless YOU tell them. Because you said “thank you” one time does not mean that you never say it again.

Your words could be just the encouragement that person needs in order to keep going. We have become a self-serving, self-seeking society. I challenge you as well as myself to change that NOW. Ask God to make you a person who genuinely shares your appreciation with everyone in your life.

In closing, I would encourage you to read the story of Jesus and the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. These men were outcasts because of their disease. Then an amazing thing happened. Jesus came through town and healed them. They went off excited that their lives had been changed and they were able to return to a normal lifestyle. All ten were no doubt very grateful but only one returned to say “thank you.” In verse 17, I think what Jesus says is very interesting. “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” Jesus was wondering about the others. “Where are the nine?” He did not assume that they were thankful. He made a point to ask about the others. He was wondering why they had not returned.

When you have been given a gift, a service, a smile, a hug, or a word of affirmation, I pray that you will see the value and the contribution you make in the life of another by simply returning and saying to the person, “Thank-you.” Use this week to look for specific people for whom you can affirm your love and appreciation by simply letting them know how thankful you are for them. Express yourself with love and kind words to others this week. You will be blessed!

Have an AWESOME week!

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