From the archives: As you count your blessings today, take time to tell those living, breathing blessings in your life how much you appreciate them. They won’t know it unless you show it!
We need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Giving thanks is something that we are commanded repeatedly in Scripture to do. Obviously, it is important to God for His children to be grateful.
Space won’t permit me to list all the references here, but consider this small sampling of verses:
• “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
• “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
• “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ …”
• “Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name….”
(1 Chronicles 16:8)
• “Enter His gates with thanksgiving…. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.”
We owe a debt of gratitude to God, but this attitude should also spill over into our relationships with others, as well. Our lives and our conversations should be marked by expressions of thankfulness toward our fellow man.
And that goes double for the members of our own household.
Don’t take your husband for granted. Express genuine appreciation for everything he does for you, whether great or small.
Always say thank you. But don’t stop there. Real gratitude runs much deeper than words. It extends far beyond anything we can verbalize.
Our thankfulness should affect not only how we think, but also how we live and how we treat the people around us.
This post is excerpted from my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband, winner of the CSPA 2014 “Book of the Year” Award. (affiliate link)
Those two things are envy and expectations.
Envy causes us to see the glass as half-empty instead of half-full. It fills our hearts with jealousy and bitter resentment, so that we begrudge others the good things they enjoy and pity ourselves for not sharing the same fate.
Nothing will blind you to your own blessings more effectively than moping over what you lack, rather than rejoicing over what you have. When you can’t even recognize or acknowledge the good things in your life, then you certainly won’t feel proper appreciation for them.
Expectations can deal as serious a deathblow to gratitude as envy does, for expectations give rise to a sense of entitlement. You can’t sincerely appreciate anything if you think someone owes it to you. It is impossible to feel truly grateful for something when you’re convinced you deserve it.
Expectations have destroyed a lot of marriages, and it’s not difficult to understand why.
Imagine for a moment that it’s your anniversary. Your husband brings you flowers… but you were hoping for diamonds. You’ve been hinting for weeks and had even left a marked catalogue on his desk. Doesn’t he know this is the year for diamonds? He probably just bought these flowers at the grocery store on his way home from work. What a slacker! Can’t he ever plan ahead? Why are special occasions always an afterthought with him?
Before long, you’re really miffed. Your husband can see this in your eyes, sense it in your tone of voice—and it stings. He does something nice for you, and this is how you react? Whatever happened to a simple thank you? Why does he even bother trying? He stews until he’s boiling, then spends your wedding anniversary sleeping on the couch.
Life doesn’t have to be like this.
Let’s try that scenario again, but this time when your husband brings home flowers, you are delighted. He’s been so busy at work lately, you’re surprised he remembered your anniversary at all. What a sweetheart! You hug his neck, give him a long kiss, and thank him profusely. You arrange the bouquet in water, set it on the table, and stop to admire it every time you pass. Your husband sees you do this and smiles with pleasure. You comment on how beautiful the flowers look, how wonderful they smell, and how blessed you are to be married to such a sweet and thoughtful guy— not just tonight, but repeatedly throughout the week.
The question is, which wife will you choose to be? Which would your husband rather come home to?
Do you want joy? Then rid yourself of envy and expectations and any notions of entitlement.
Do you want to live happily ever after? Then cultivate a heart filled with gratitude — first to God, from whom all blessings flow, but also toward the people He has placed in your life. People whose kindnesses, whether great or small, should never be taken for granted.
I have a friend who refuses to iron more than one piece of clothing at a time. She believes that dying with a closet full of clean, pressed clothes would be testimony to a wasted life. Why bother ironing something you may never get the chance to wear?
“I”d much rather spend my time mowing the lawn,” my friend confides. I assume she just enjoys being out in the fresh air and sunshine, but no, she explains, the reason she likes cutting the grass is because she knows it won’t need to be cut again for a full week — or at least five or six days. Not so with any other domestic task.
I can see her point. You can knock yourself out scrubbing bathrooms, mopping floors, or washing windows, and the results can be completely undone in a matter of minutes. (And the more young children that share your household, the more likely your efforts to keep it clean will be thwarted.)
Even a home-cooked meal is summarily demolished once it’s been brought to the table. No sooner do you wash and dry the last dish from one meal than your famished family is back in the kitchen, asking when they may expect the next and begging for a snack.
But a freshly-mown lawn? Once that job’s done, you can take a well-earned break and enjoy it for awhile. There is something very gratifying about that fact.
As a wife and mother, I must deal with an endless barrage of demands upon my time and energy, of which there is a very limited supply. If I do not choose wisely, I will end up squandering it to achieve results that are fleeting rather than investing it in something longer lasting. I want to make taking care of people, not possessions, my focus.
Of course, at some point, the laundry does have to be washed, the meals prepared, the floors swept. Life has always been a balancing act and always will be. The challenge is to tend to the temporal duties in such a way that we achieve lasting results. Not that the same chores won’t have to be done all over again tomorrow, but that in the doing, we are training children, teaching teamwork, showing appreciation, offering encouragement, modeling diligence, radiating joy, building character, and making memories together.
That kind of time investment will yield results that endure.
I was still in my fuzzy bathrobe, so I quickly changed clothes, grabbed my coat and keys, and drove over to the hospital to make the delivery. Being out in the bitter cold of the early morning served to remind me how very blessed I am to have a husband who works so hard to provide for his family. So as he was leaving for work today, I told him, “Thank you.”
“For what?” he asked curiously.
“For going to work every day,” I answered. “I get to stay home where it’s warm, but you go even when it’ freezing outside, and you never even complain about it.”
This statement elicited the sweetest smile. “You’re welcome,” he said sincerely, then gave me a hug and headed out the door. He would have gone regardless, but having his hard work recognized put a spring in his step that even the cold winter weather couldn’t chase away.