I just recently turned a corner, recovering from a terrible bout with illness. Headache, throwing up, lots of coughing, aching all over, no sleep… Pretty much everything I didn’t want or need. The worst thing, though, was that I knew I had so much I wanted to give, and I couldn’t do a thing but lie there and be sick as a dog.

Giving has always been a forte in my family… Give to the neighbors, give to family, give to strangers, give to animals, give to plants. Give and give some more. My grandmothers both thought that giving was the healthiest thing humans could do. I always believed that. Yet, here I was unable to give a thing. It was then that something I’d told my husband (way back when we were just kids in college) occurred to me : If everyone gave, then who would receive? Someone has to be willing to receive… And then, you can give again… give thanks. The trouble is, some people don’t know how to receive, and many have forgotten how to say thank you.

There are two kinds of receivers… 1.) Those who just take and take and take, and have no serious thought about who did anything for them… It’s just what has ya done for me lately. 2.) There are those who are so thankful for every single thing that is given to them. Those selfish ones who just take and take, don’t start out that way. At least I don’t believe they do. I think that someone had to teach them to be selfish. Maybe it was bad parenting, or maybe it was bad friends. Either way, they watched someone behave badly or heard words that indicated it was okay to act that way. The decision to follow that path was definitely their choice. Those people who chose to be thankful had different role models. Someone nurtured them by their own actions, to be thankful for everything.

To go further, there is also a choice to either actively be thankful, or to simply quietly take. Notice I said “say and be thankful”… Ask ourselves: Are we happy for what we get, and do we say the words thank you, or write a note to the giver of that good? More and more, children are not being taught to say those two little words and write them. And, whose fault is that? It’s ours! We are their teachers! And, that thing about “Do as I say and not as I do” won’t cut it… Children after to SEE it or they probably won’t do it, because we, yes WE, are their role models. And it doesn’t matter if we’re their parents or not; children observe and learn from the adults they see every day.

Saying thank you right at that moment that we feel thankful is very powerful. It stops the thirst in our souls. It lifts us up as we humbly show our joy of receipt. Unlike selfishness, where goodness sits inside us and rots out our insides, showing thankfulness liberates and refreshes not only us but those whom we thank.

The desert is full of beautiful creatures that can store water and continue to flourish…  But let water sit where it doesn’t belong and it’s like a sponge that hasn’t been rung out (like selfishness and greed); it rots the container. I had a tree once, a cactus, that died from sitting in unused H2O. And, I think we’re all a lot like that cactus tree right now, but we’re not dead yet. We can do something about it! Say thank you and mean it.

In this country we have so much of everything. Here, even the poor are living better than some third world countries. No, really it’s true. And, perhaps we’re all tired of hearing how much we Americans have… There’s something we can do about it. We must say thank you. We must say thank you in our attitudes, in our hearts, to God, to friends, to strangers. We must even be thankful within ourselves when we have behaved well and taken care of our bodies… Good job, Carolyn, to stay in bed when you want to get up! Good job, all of you, when you extend a smile and those two little words in lip service and/or in action!

It’s not always convenient to say thank you, and to be appreciative. Pretty much, no one cares that you don’t like it… Just do it. It’s the right thing to do. Maybe we’ve made a habit of being self-centered and selfish, or we’ve grown complacent (and it can happen to all of us)… “We do it once and it felt wrong but we acted that way; we did it twice and it didn’t feel quite so wrong; we did it three times and now it’s a habit and a new way of life.” We can turn that habit back around… The thing is though, that the first time you do the right thing, it will feel like a relief; and the second time we’ll be glad we did it and the third time we’re back on track. Now. Here’s the hitch… You’re now doing a good thing. And that will really set the devil after you, ’cause he doesn’t like that. I will be praying for you. Really. I will be praying for you to stay true to that path and that nothing will take you from it. Be thankful! Spit in the face of the devil! I got you covered through Christ and the Holy Spirit.

May your day be filled with thankful moments, and may others be thankful for you!

Carolyn Thomas Temple