When I was a teenager I remember my dad telling me that I needed to learn how to say, "Thank you."
I am still learning. When people give me complements, my initial reaction is to make a joke or explain it away. It can be hard to take a complement (especially if you suffer from a self-worth problem like I do). And then I remember my dad's words and how he told me that it takes effort and care and thoughtfulness and sincerity to seek someone out and pay them a complement. We all think nice things. Some folks are brave enough to walk up to the person and say the words. My job is to hear the complement, remember the heart it takes to express it, and respond with gratitude.
I'm so thankful he gave me that lecture when I was young. I think I remember trying to ignore him when he did it, but I heard him. And I'm still working on it. Some days I'm better at it than others.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. At our church, people are great at showing their appreciation. We get gift cards, meat. baked goods, beer, invitations to dinner, greeting cards, kind words and continued prayers. It's awesome and it's overwhelming and each year I ask my husband if we can quietly faze out the practice and he confidently tells me "No."
Life in the time of Gratitude. It is wonderful and it is humbling. There I am, standing at the doorway with a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls and suddenly I'm thinking about all the ways we don't work hard enough, where we miss the mark, and where we are undeserving of the kindness people show us. You wouldn't think warm baked goods would make you question everything you do on a day to day basis, but so it goes. And I confess that gifts can be hard. I confess love can be hard to receive. And I remember what my dad told me and I spend time thinking about why Pastor Appreciation Month must stand.
Let people love you. With muffins and cash and meat from their own butchering. Let people appreciate you precisely because it can feel uncomfortable to open up, to let love happen, to entertain the idea that we are worthy of the generosity.
And don't squash the practice. Don't ever give the impression that generosity is foolish or unnecessary. Like we're so self-sustaining that we don't need the gift card to Barnes & Noble. The truth is we need it. We need it to crack us open and consider how we can add to the pile of gratitude. The whole world needs it in any way shape or form it comes by.
And say thank you. And let the love sink in. And give thanks for life in the time of Gratitude. It's a work in progress and I am in wonder at how it gets to me and loves me and helps me grow. Thank you.