For several years, I’ve noticed a lot of gratitude postings on social media during the month of November. You may have seen this, or even participated yourself in the practice of consciously engaging in (at least) one moment of thankfulness every day during the month of November. It’s a great exercise, and it warms my heart to see so much gratitude being expressed. But something also bothers me about this practice, and it took me a while to put my finger on it. Continue reading
When did “No, thank you” become “No thanks” in our world? Somewhere along the way, we’ve stopped including the comma that makes this sentence a polite regret. Somewhere along the way, we’ve turned it into a denial of gratitude.
Did you even notice? Can you see the difference between the meaning of these two sentences?
Having no thanks is a lot different from “no, thanks.” It’s like the difference between “I am completely without gratitude” and “Oh, I’m sorry, but no, thank you anyway.” That little comma lets us keep a little “yes” in our “no.” It implies a longing for yes, and a regret that the answer – for now, at least – must be no. That little comma keeps the gratitude, instead of denying it.
So I urge you, this week, to pause for the gratitude. When you turn down that second helping of potatoes or pie, stop for just a second between the “No” and the “Thanks” and let the comma be heard as an affirmation that you really are grateful. See what it does to you, and get back to me on that, will you?
I have seen a lot of gratitude on Facebook during the month of November, as many of my friends participate in 30 Days of Thanks, writing about the first thing for which they are thankful each day. It’s a great exercise, and it warms my heart to see so much gratitude expressed. But something bothers me about this little meme.
At first, I thought it was the limitation of thirty days. What, you aren’t grateful the other 335 days of the year? You have to save up your gratitude for the month of November, only? But that wasn’t it.
Then, I pondered that it might seem just a bit self-congratulatory to announce to the world how wonderful one’s life is every day. Isn’t this a bit like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, who prays, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men…” as he stands in the temple? But that wasn’t it, either.
Today, it hit me as I read Psalm 105, which begins, “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!” All this “I’m thankful for…” floating around Facebook is missing something really important: a direct object.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 106, among many others). Being thankful all the time is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. It helps us stay humble as we recognize the many blessings we experience in life, blessings for which we can take no credit whatsoever. That is important.
But even more important, I think, is remembering that being grateful is all about me and how I feel, while giving thanks is all about the One to whom I owe gratitude.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Happy Thanksgiving.