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24.5.11

Being a Woman - Who is Grateful

Bottom line – a grateful woman is beautiful and an ungrateful woman is plain ugly! Harsh? Maybe, but entirely truthful though. I have encountered both sorts of women and I have been both sorts of woman too. I actually feel more beautiful when I act in gratitude.

How many of us know exactly what we are entitled to? We often make demands from people because we are entitled to things from them. This sort of attitude is the opposite of a grateful attitude. 

Sadly I have a good example to offer. A while ago I was involved in organise a surprise for someone. Her friends and family and I spent weeks planning and going to great lengths to pull off a spectacular surprise for her, making sure that all her dreams came true. I had never seen such an array of beautiful gifts and the party that we prepared was simply perfect. One hundred candles were lit and strategically placed in the garden, champagne glassed were hired to ensure everything seemed magical and her favourite song was on pause, ready to play as soon as she arrived. It was all simply perfect. Gifts were given, the party was enjoyed but soon hurt started to set in. One of the women who went to a lot of trouble to buy gifts and organise the party mentioned that she didn’t even say thank you for the gifts or for the part, another left a bit upset, nearly in tears saying how he felt that he was being treated badly. 

I too got really upset when I felt that all my hard work was expected. It was as if none of it was a surprise but all of it was exactly what she felt entitled to. At the end of the event there was more sadness than joy as the receiver of all the attention and gifts displayed no gratitude what so ever. I even wondered if some of the people who had gone to a great deal of trouble, left feeling a touch of bitterness or hurt. My way of dealing with it was to remind myself of the grace that Jesus had lavished on me even though I didn’t deserve it. This woman had love and gifts lavished upon her that day but she had done nothing to deserve them. At the end of the party, after the hurt had subsided, she would also received forgiveness and would continue to receive love from all the people she hurt. Again, nothing she deserved but something she received anyway. 

This is grace.

Grace is the only word that made sense of it all but grace is also the one word inspires gratitude in me. In times like these, when I see the ugliness of an ungrateful heart, I remember that I too once needed grace. I most certainly didn’t deserve what Jesus did for me but He did it anyway. He reached down from heaven and lavished His love upon me. At first I expected it – He was God after all and that is what God should do! Then I abused it by being an ungrateful prodigal. It was only when I had spent all His blessing and mercy that I came back to Him, empty handed and ashamed. It was at that point that I finally began to understand grace, it was then that I first truly became grateful. Since that day I have determined to cultivate a grateful heart towards God and towards my fellow human beings. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18
in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I can clearly see the beauty of a grateful heart and the ugliness of unthankful heart. I see now that the Bible tells us to give thanks in everything because it is a beautiful thing to do. It is not a rule to follow but a key to becoming a beautiful woman. Not only is a grateful heart beautiful to behold but it is a beautiful thing to receive. 

My daughter, Lorah, has taught me the beauty of a grateful heart. It is by observing her that I was inspired to become a more grateful person. All my life I had been one of those people that felt I was entitled to things. As Lorah grew up I watched how she never claimed what she was entitle to but rather she responded with absolute gratitude for all things, big or small. Her gratitude made her look so beautiful and I longed to have this beauty too. She inspired me to be more and I knew that if I cultivated an attitude of gratitude I would inspire other to be more beautiful too. 

Slowly and painfully I chipped away at my attitude of entitlement and replaced it with gratitude. It was hard work and took sincere effort but it was worth it. As I chose to find things to be grateful for I realised how much I had been missing in my life. Joy and peace has been lost in the past because I used my entitlement to get through life. Being grateful is so much more liberating, it changes how you see things and people, it brings greater joy and surprisingly is a lot less work than claiming what I perceived as rightfully mine! Best of all, I could tell that I was a nicer person to be around. 

People like to be around people that make them feel good. Of course they do! Why would you want to be around someone that makes you feel bad? A grateful person always makes the giver feel good about giving. One thing that significantly impacted me in this area was a card that Lorah wrote to me. It was not my birthday or any special occasion, it was simply a day that Lorah chose to express her gratitude to me. Here is what she said:

Dear Mommy,

Thank you for being such a great mother to me.
Thank you for always being there for me.
Thank you for always doing your best to give me what I need.
Thank you for never giving up on me and for believing in me and never letting me settle for second best in my life.
Thank you for all your good advice.
Thank you for supporting me in everything I do.
Thank you for always steering me back in the right direction when I get lost.
Thank you for listening to me when I need to talk.
Thank you that I can tell you anything and you will never judge me.
Thank you for cleaning the house every day.
Thank you for cooking us dinner every evening.
Thank you for getting us organised all the time.
Thank you for driving me around if I need to go somewhere.
Thank you for going all the way to Cirencester to pick me up if I am ill at college.
Thank you for all your help at band practice.
Thank you for letting me sleep late on Saturdays.
And thank you that even though you already do all of these things, you still offer to help me with the little bit of work I have to do.
I love you lots and lots and I am so grateful for everything you do!

Lots of Love
Lorah
xxx

Doesn’t that make your heart melt? The part that got me the most was that she thanked me for cleaning the house and cooking dinner – something that she could have reasonably expected from me – of course, I am her mother. Mother’s are supposed to do those things and yet she even chose to be grateful for the things she could have rightfully expected from me. I treasure these words, they mean more to me that so many other things in my life. Her expression of gratitude changed me forever. Her expression of gratitude exposed my heart that demands what it is entitled to. Thank you so much Lorah for showing me the true beauty of a grateful heart.

The Being a Woman book and worksheets are available here.

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