Gratitude: Not just for the church folk

First United Methodist Church in Montgomery, LA

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To hear church folk tell it, the only way, or most effective way of being thankful for the blessings in your life is to find a church and attend services every Sunday at the very least.

Well, I did that when I was in high school. My parents were avid church-goers and we lived in a small community of avid church-goers. It’s what  you did on Sunday without question. There was always something for everybody: Youth Day, youth choir, adult choir, Sunday school, bible studies, breakfasts, dinners, community events. Our church: Waugh United Methodist Church – kept its members busy and I enjoyed it back then.

But since then, I haven’t gone on a regular basis. Once in a while, I’ll get an invitation to go to a particular church event, or I’ve on occasion just decided to visit a church, but I truly don’t have the desire to go every Sunday. But despite the church folk mantra that humility, gratitude, and a healthy respect for the spiritual world can only be found within those brick mortars, those are all characteristics that guide my life.

I don’t need a church service or the bible to instruct me to offer someone help who needs it;  to practice understanding rather than judgement; or to recognize that there but for grace go I.

I’m a firm believer in education: I believe that everyone is teachable; that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks; that your negative past doesn’t have to be your future. So I do believe that gratitude can be taught if the person learning it is receptive to its concept. I’m thankful though, that I didn’t need to learn it – I’ve always lived it.

When my three daughters and I first moved to Baltimore and I had no job and no prospects, I was grateful we still had a roof over our heads and food to eat.

When I began feeling restless with  my job as a staff writer for the Baltimore AFRO Newspaper, I was grateful that I had the presence of mind to prepare: I used my extra cash to train to be a certified nursing assistant so that I’d have a steady income –  and made the choice to write from home.

When my Mom died, I lost my job at Sinai Hospital, I still had rent to pay and I wasn’t sure what my next move was, I was grateful for agency work. I spent that summer working with two agencies, spreading myself between three hospitals, on public transportation – having to keep an organizer so that I could keep up with where I was working on any particular night.  One night I found myself heading towards Johns Hopkins Hospital when I should have been heading for Greater Baltimore Medical Center! Not an easy fix when you have to jump off a bus and wait for another bus – or two – to get you where you need to go!

But I made it work. And I believe my gratitude for what I did have in my life, helped me make it work. No matter what I could find to complain about, there was always something to detour my thoughts.

I’m thankful that I’ve made it this far in my life; grateful for any physical, spiritual, or emotional assistance that helped me get here. And I hope to keep living my life with my eyes open and my thoughts positive so that I can continue allowing that gratitude to soak in.

2 thoughts on “Gratitude: Not just for the church folk

  1. Hi Alan!
    I do that to! That pity-pot has cradled a lot of butts! 🙂 We all end up sitting there at some point. The good thing is that most of us learn to be grateful so that we can get off that seat. And for those who haven’t learned yet … no worries! There’s still time! 🙂
    Thanx Alan!

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  2. There are so many times I’m approaching a seat on the pity-pot and see someone in a so much worse situation and remember: “to recognize that there but for grace go I” Of course I’m a believer in dumb luck rather than grace, but the result is the same. Gratitude!

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