Gratitude is one of those values that I think we don’t think of often enough. I, personally, could probably do better with giving thanks for the people, experiences, things, and places in my life that have molded me into the person I am today. From the family and friends who have supported and loved us to the food that we eat to the shelter that we have, there are so many things to be grateful for each and every day. Now, when we express and feel gratitude, what is our response? Are we taking the gifts and things we have for granted or are we channeling that gratitude into generosity and service to and with others?
When we take things for granted, which I tend to do, unfortunately, rather often, we forget that God is a God of great generosity. We forget that God has poured out God’s love through family, friends, and experiences in our lives that enable us to make change and build authentic community. We forget that there are people around the world who live different lives than us and may not have access to the same resources, whether physical or communal/personal. When we take things for granted, we do not acknowledge the scope and depth of our many blessings and gifts.
Rather, when we channel gratitude into generosity, we remember that yes, God is a God of hope, generosity, and abundant love. We recognize that God indeed has given us love through the people around us. We remember that there are people around the world and in our communities who, yes, do not live the same lives that we do, but that does not mean their life is any less important or beautiful. What gratitude does is empower and encourage us to mobilize for change, and to serve the people around us. Whether it is through a simple act of kindness to a stranger or finding time for a friend who has been a gift in your own life, gratitude can be morphed into something that is filled with love and kindness and community.
When we channel our gratitude and thankfulness into service and into generosity, we not only recognize how we have been gifted, but also make it possible that people around us can feel that same love and joy that a grateful heart and mind feels.
May the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola empower us to use our gratitude in the service of others.
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.