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gratitude a great reward
Gratitude: a great reward
Thank you! That is all it takes to show appreciation for someone's kindness. The great reward of gratitude is encouragement, healing and restoration.
These two words divide people wherever they live in the world, between those who appreciate the kindness they see and experience, and those who do not; and between situations we encounter: moments when a thank-you meant so much, or when we did not give it or receive it, of opportunity taken or missed.
It does not have to be written on a card, though that might create more lasting tokens. It can be that nod of the head from someone who does not speak your language, or a wave of the hand from the distance. Whatever it might be, it says it: Thank you!
I was prompted to write this hub by a thank-you note from Michael, a man who has risen in his career, beyond anyone's imagination. In his thank-you note, he reminded me of the times when year after year, I poured myself in his and other students' lives to give them a chance for a brighter future.
Reflecting on those years in college he thanks me for things I said and did, which mostly, I have no recollection of now. I am asking myself whether I have, like Mike, said thank you where I should? And if not, whether I still can. That is because of how the note makes me feel right now. It re-affirms what I already know about the power of positive words spoken into other peoples' lives.
Our paths may cross many times throughout this short life. We meet in school, at church, in restaurants, clubs, at work, and during sports. We meet in so many places where we become acquaintances, and sometimes, friends. Life is like that; we meet here and there, under different circumstances. Sometimes, there is cause to say Thank you. Often we can find a cause if we keep our eyes and ears open to one another and engage. Perhaps it was someone's grace towards another or in a difficult situation; or a simple act of kindness.
Over ten years ago, as a college tutor I met Michael. That is where Mike's thank-you story started. As any teacher knows there are moments of sheer happiness and moments of anxiety, moments of celebration and of looking back with regrets, in teaching. There will be good students and others not so easy to deal with.
Michael was one of the most difficult students I ever dealt with. If there was a moment when I would have given up teaching over a student's character, this was the student, this was the time and moment.
He was a big, physically fit, good looking, unruly and influential guy who held sway over his classmates. He played soccer and everyone liked him. The problem was that he caused so much pain for me because he would not take orders when he should have. Working under the system of dormitories and clean-up days required a level of discipline Michael could not submit to.
This, naturally, spilled over to class work. Although Mike was such a powerful figure around the college his performance in class was poor. He struggled to grasp concepts and failed the simplest test. As a teacher it pained me that this student was so popular and yet could not pull himself well enough to improve performance in class. My attempts to help him were affected by our fights over dormitory discipline and the uncanny way he went about causing trouble among other students.
Through Mike I learned to develop a detachment from my students: making a kind of buffer zone around myself to keep school from becoming too entrenched in my life systems. That zone counselors would call personal space. As much as I wanted Mike to improve academically, as well to submit to authority and to be a positive peer pressure, I would not let this become a personal matter. In other words I reached that point where in a caring way, I did not care what he did in college.
Upon graduating Mike quickly found out, first hand, what I had advised all along: we needed one another. As a newly graduated worker from college he needed character reference from college. I was the only person who could give it for him. I gave him high accolades not based on what he did in college, but on his potential to do well in life.
There are people who take everything for granted. Then there are those who know that life in all its colors and shades is not to be taken for granted. The beauty we see around, the charm we experience, the freedoms we enjoy, the friends who smile us, all can vanish, and will go some day. Learning to say thank you aught to be the first thing in life and the last thought on our minds because it makes our world better.
Mike's letter went directly to the heart of the matter. He reminisced on our college battles and expressed appreciation at my maturity when he needed it most. Now that he is an important person in society he remembers more vividly everything that happened.
When I received the note I thanked God and prayed for Mike again. I know it is time that together with him, we can laugh over those things.
Thank you! That undid any and all hurts I might have harbored for the pain my younger friend caused me. Needless to say, it was more for himself and for his self-healing than it was for me. I found coping mechanisms and moved on. He was just finding his.
A story in the Bible speaks directly to this. Jesus healed ten lepers. The full realization of that miracle did not set in at once. These men went on their way at Jesus' command, then they experienced the full miracle of healing, of cleansing from a disease which had no cure.
One among the ten figured it out; it was the right thing and the right time to say Thank-you Lord. If we pause for a moment to consider this act it really looks unnecessary if not a waste of precious time. Jesus was a busy man, He was surrounded by more needs than a man's thank-you would bend. God is too big, too busy, too important to even hear a single Thank-you! True? No.
"They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus' feet, so grateful. He couldn't thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan." Luke 17:14-16, Bible The Message translation.
What happened to the other nine? Jesus asked.What answer can we give for not saying Thank you?
One out of ten people today says Thank-you. These words are not merely rhetorical, they reveal a heart of love, of peace and faith.
In a rights-based world, a democratic society, who wants to acknowledge others' kindness? What kindness? We earn our living, don't we? We deserve the wealth we have, don't we?
We have heard of instances of kindness turned sour, when someone, moved by pity, stopped to help another, was later summoned to court for their act of kindness turned sour. We live in a day when it is dangerous to be kind and to say thank you. People are reluctant or unwilling to acknowledge others' kindness for many other reasons including selfishness.
Thank-you can be healing and restorative. The only two words more powerful than these are: I am sorry. According to the Bible, these three latter words can lead directly to a guarantee of eternal life.
Thank you Michael for saying thank you! I am encouraged, and the world will be a better place with more people like you who appreciate others' kindness and show it.