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Uh-oh, Is He Talking About Me?

By • July 23 2015


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Been there, done that. As a parent of four and an elementary school teacher, it’s fair to say I’ve dealt with a few whiny, ungrateful kids from time to time. And you know, I must be crazy or something, because I keep setting myself up for it.

Here’s an example: Last year I decided to surprise my students with freshly-baked bread for a memorable lesson on “smell.” I specially planned this for a day when I knew I’d have time to set everything up without students in the room–the element of surprise is a very effective teaching tool. I left my house extra early so I could lug everything I needed to my classroom, including my bread maker, pre-measured ingredients, a good bread knife, and butter. Yep–I’d thought of everything.

I timed the baking perfectly, and right on cue, the delicious aroma of baking bread filled my classroom during our Science lesson. It was a moment of brilliance: Our sense of smell was aroused, the lesson was perfectly illustrated, and my students scarfed the yummy treat down in two seconds flat.

But get this: After all of that work and planning, only one student said “Thank you!” for the bread–one. Later I asked them about their favorite part of the day, absolutely positive they would squeal, “The homemade bread!” And secretly I hoped they’d say it was the most fun they’d had in school ever.

Nope. “Recess!” was their resounding answer. Makes you want to just give up. [Sigh]

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.” –James E. Faust

I wonder if God feels like that about us–about me–sometimes. Does my lack of gratefulness at times make Him want to give up? To stop doing nice things for me? To only do the “minimum” for me since I don’t often take the time to truly give Him the thanks He so deserves? I doubt He feels like giving up, but I sure wouldn’t blame Him if He did.

If you’re an American like me, let’s face it: We have very little reason to complain about our lives. Of course we face hardships at times, and I certainly don’t mean to diminish the pain of facing illness, the death of a loved one, unemployment, a dock in pay, marriage trouble, or other issues. Times have been hard lately for a lot of Americans, I know.

But here’s where we go wrong: When we focus on our problems, we cease to focus on God, His infinite goodness, and all the things for which we can still be grateful. And I like to think that as people who have the promise of eternal life and an all-powerful God on our side, there is always some reason to praise Him, no matter what.

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” –Zig Ziglar

There’s a saying I think about when I face problems: “You become what you behold.” In other words, you become the thing–or you become like the thing–on which you focus the most. If you focus on your problem, then you become like the problem: An irritant, negative, no fun, a thing to avoid, a pain in the rear. But if you choose to focus on God instead–even in the midst of facing difficulties–you’ll become more like Him: Full of life and love, full of faith, a source of inspiration, a problem solver, full of strength, able to give, a fountain of hope.

Choose gratefulness. It’s better.

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