How I Express My Gratitude to the People Who Care for Me
When I was in college and still able to do the things I wanted, I would always go to a gathering of thousands of students every Tuesday night on campus called Breakaway. We had some worship time (shout out to the Jeff Johnson Band) and then would hear from the speaker, Ben Stuart. One night he told a story that has really stuck with me about living out gratitude.
At one point in his life, he was in dire need of a new vehicle but couldn’t afford one. He was praying for guidance, but he wasn’t looking for a handout by any means. Then he was given the keys to a brand new truck by a woman he didn’t know. When she told him it was his now, she asked for nothing in return. Nothing. There were no strings attached or stipulations. It was his free and clear. It was a story to illustrate God’s grace, but I have thought of that story often in various parts of my life in the past few years.
When I got sick, I depended on those around me more than I usually had to. My aunt and uncle would never hesitate to help me if I needed it, drive me to doctors appointments or check in on me.
My mom drove the 18-hour one-way trip to see me multiple times when things were particularly bad. She has never blinked at the monetary cost of chronic illness even when there was a possibility of a lengthy hospital stay not being covered by our insurance.
My grandparents, although retired, have always been willing to continue keeping the family business running, making my mom available to go with me to seek treatments all over the country.
My best friend has been known to drop me a “here if you need me” card just because. People I didn’t even realize remembered my name have checked to see how I was doing and have prayed for me constantly.
How on earth do you repay someone for such selfless actions? There is no amount of money that could come close to the value these people have in my life. I’ve never seen a Hallmark card that says enough “thank you’s.” There aren’t enough cookies or gift baskets in the world that could express how thankful I am. There is no tangible thing that can convey my feelings.
This all brings me back to the story of Ben and his truck. He racked his brain to think of a way to say thank you for the blessing he had been given. At the end of the story, he realized you can’t say thank you in words or with tangible things. You just have live out your gratitude. Wake up each day and live the best life you can and use your gifts with a grateful heart. Accept the love from the people around you. Don’t let pride stand in the way of wonderful thing that can deepen your relationships. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty over the fact you can’t a superhero all the time.
My best doesn’t always look like much — sometimes it’s just making it from my bed to the couch — but I try my hardest to live responsibly with the gifts I’ve been given. I know they came at great personal cost to a lot of people I have mentioned above.
I started keeping a gratitude journal about a month ago, and it opened my eyes to how beaten down and hopeless I was about the way my life was going. I had no hope of ever returning to a life that even half resembled the one I lost, and I was mad about it. I didn’t realize how mad I was until I started listing all the things I was taking for granted. I have lost a lot, and the sadness and heartbreak over letting go of my dreams is very real and demands to be felt.
I still feel all of those things.
But I started looking for the things and relationships I have to be thankful for, and over time I noticed my attitude change drastically. I had no physical changes, if anything my health has declined, but the emotional changes were starting, and I could feel my heart thawing. I had lost my ability to really empathize with people around me because I was too consumed by own self-pity. The anger, sadness, grief, frustration — all of it is justified. I have a lot to be upset about.
Practicing living gratitude has helped me find the things to celebrate again. For that, I am grateful.
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