Secret to Gratitude

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As we say goodbye to Thanksgiving, I wanted to reflect on something that Sarah and I have discovered that has greatly improved the gratitude in our house.  It is the discovery of a link between taking responsibility and being grateful.  This may seem very simple, but it has had a profound effect on the peace, joy, and love in our household.

Taking responsibility is always a tough thing.  It tends to go very much against our human nature.  We tend to be self-centric, motivated by what works best for us, feels good for us, and is easiest.  Taking reponsibility tends to move us away from ourselves and towards others.  It can be uncomfortable and disconcerting.  Stage one responsibility is tough enough.  It requires us to own up to our mistakes and actions.  It causes us to own the consequences of our actions or inactions, whether intended or not.  While this is basic, it is not easy.  Many a politician is incapable of doing this first step, especially without an accompanying explanation of why it really wasn't all their fault.

Stage two responsibility is even harder and therefore more rare.  It is taking responsibility for that which is not your fault or even techically your problem.  This is what Jesus did with us as He took responsibility for our sin, paying for what we did wrong.  It wasn't at all His fault yet He took full responsibility for fixing a problem we caused.  That's advanced responsibility taking!

So, how can that change a family dynamic and encourage thanksgiving?  In our home, Sarah and I have begun working to really look at everything that needs to be done in the house as our personal responsibility.  Dishes need to be washed?  That's on me.  Floor need to be swept?  Mine.  You get the idea.  While that makes for an uncomfortable amount of responsibility, but then here is what happens next.  When someone else does ANYTHING in the house, they have actually done one of my jobs.  This makes me very grateful.  Instead of thinking that its about time my wife took care of something, I am relieved that she was able to take care of that before I got to it.  I am so grateful.

 Just today wood needed to be brought in and the garbage needed to be taken out.  I put both on my list of things I needed to get done today.   Before I got that far on the list, my wife went ahead and got them done.  I was filled with thankfulness and my wife was happy because she was also taking responsibility.   This has changed the attitude in our house a lot.   Instead of being frustrated over what isn't done yet, you take responsibility.  We are more patient, more understanding, more grateful for what is accomplished, and more gentle with each other because after all, everything is our responsibility.

Now that is not to say that we are perfect in that attitude yet, but it is progress and one that we are working on teaching our children.  They will struggle with it as much as we do because they are as selfish as we are.  As we close off the Thanksgiving weekend, in all areas of your life, look around at your house, your church, your work, and see things as your responsibility, no matter what has been assigned to you.  Realize that you are called to be a servant and see it all as your work.  You will find yourself being less critical, more grateful, and more understanding with all those around you.  It will take work, but that's responsible!

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