I threatened Lindsey that if she didn’t take up more time I was going to flunk her in Personal Progress, is that a thing? Do I have the power to do that, Bishop?
No, but really, everybody always gets up here and opens with how nervous they are to be speaking and all, but not I! I love to talk and told my husband I was going to start by saying how I’m not nervous at all and I embrace this experience to speak to you all this morning, but now that I’m up here I have to admit—I am a little nervous about one thing— Jordan said he was going to heckle an “boo” me from the pews … and I did notice “tomatoes” were added to my shopping list yesterday, in his hand writing.
Luckily, my little angels, whom I’m sure you hear screaming from the front row every Sunday, will keep him distracted enough that I won’t have to dodge any flying fruit. (Yes, tomatoes are a fruit. Seeds or something. I dunno, google it.)
The one thing I’m not completely confident about is that my talk will fulfill the time limit requested of me, so let me give you a little introduction to take up some of time…
It was early February in a snow covered cottage, the year-1984.
No, I’m kidding, I was born in a hospital in Northern California. I don’t know the details, but I’m sure it’s entertaining only to my mother, so luckily I can’t bore you with that story.
Right about now Brother Woodward is regretting asking me to speak, and Bishop is regretting entrusting such a task as finding a speaker to Brother Woodward…
Let me just get to it…I was (now regretfully) asked, by Brother Woodward, to speak to you today about gratitude and I’m not sure he got the right guy for the job. One would think it would be easy to speak about gratitude—what with Thanksgiving and the holiday season being upon us and all… however, I am not the most humble person in the world. I won’t be the first to tell you that, my husband will, because he tells me all the time!
It’s an ongoing joke between us really. I playfully act prideful; complimenting and boasting about myself to build up my self esteem. Mostly it just gives me a good reason to flip my hair at him, like this…
To my point though—gratitude goes hand in hand with humility. And meekness, I believe. Both of which, virtues my husband easily possesses more than I do. As for me, I haven’t always been this uber-confident person…
Let me take you back to the summer of 2009 when I was investigating the Church; I imagine my time with the missionaries was very difficult for them—because I didn’t really care if God existed.
In my life, at that time God existence wasn’t really relevant.
I couldn’t say for sure how this earth was formed nor how I came to be, and sure I had questions about it, but for the most part I was simply happy – To. Be.
I didn’t believe in a heaven (and subsequently God.)
I didn’t think I needed it.
I didn’t think I deserved it.
I didn’t understand how or why I was given this life, but I had been and I figured if I were lucky, I’d have a good 80 or so years on this earth and I felt it selfish to ask for anything more than that.
I have a friend who uses that word; “DESERVE” all the time—and it drives me crazy! It’s become such a materialistic world we live in due in large part to that word, because of our application of that word in our daily life.
We think we need so many things we just don’t; take my household for example—my husband and I both have iPhones (“Hello, my name is Amber, I’m a recovering android addict,) our two children each have use of an iPad, we have 2 TV’s, 2 cars…we have a lot of conveniences that we’ve worked hard for.
But I don’t know why I deserve all that any more than anyone else does.
Short of having air to breathe, clean water to drink and bathe in, a roof over my head, food in my stomach and the love of Christ in my heart there’s not much more I really do need.
When I joined the church I was gifted and a set of scriptures from a dear friends mom, who had my name inscribed on the cover; a tradition she had done with her children at each of their baptisms. I’ve always carried with my scripture, a pocket dictionary for those times I don’t know the meaning of a word—I’ve gotten good use out of my dictionary.
While researching for this talk I looked up the word “deserve.” Webster’s dictionary defines it simply as ‘be worthy of.’
There are a lot of people in this world who are worthy of the blessings of our Heavenly Father.
Who are worthy of the basic necessities I just mentioned—and for whatever reason- do not have access to them. So the very least I can do is be grateful for my necessities and most certainly conveniences and luxuries.
“And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.”
We work hard. I know we do.
I know you do.
I know the grind—my husband works 8-5, 5 days a weeks, answers calls on the weekend, travels out of state often. I pour my blood, sweat and all too often tears into my job as a mother; and before that worked 50 hour work weeks.
We work hard. I get that.
Sometimes it’s hard not to be prideful and feel a sense of entitlement. Believe me, I know!
I think to myself, DAILY—
- · I deserve a moment of peace.
- · I deserve use of the bathroom in my own home without 2 sets of little fingers reaching under the door, two tiny voices beckoning me.
- · I deserve a HOT shower—ALONE.
- · I deserve time to be alone. With my thoughts. Without being touched, grabbed at, climbed on, talked to, or yelled at by my needful children.
My 3 year old son has taken to literally stalking me. (Mommy’s talking about you, Harrison.)
He tells me, “I love you,”
“You’re my favorite”
“I want to be with you ALWAYS,”
“I’m never going to leave you alone.”
“I’m going to go EVERYWHERE you go.”
I mean, I’m not kidding—this kid basically wants to wear my skin!
If he weren’t of my own womb I’d seriously have to consider a restraining order against him!
So believe me when I say ‘I get it.’ I do, but we need to recognize the simple, mundane everyday things in life we take for granted, and give thanks to the Lord for every breath we take.
The difference, I believe, of a grateful person and an ungrateful person is the focus of his heart. We should always keep in our hearts gratitude toward our Father in Heaven for the blessings he bestows upon us Every. Single. Day.
Big and Small.
· I am grateful to God that I was able to become pregnant and with little complication; give birth to two truly beautiful children.
· I am grateful for their health and strength (Yes, I am even happy that they have the strength and ability to chase and follow me EVERY-WHERE-I-GO, and break down bathroom doors to get to me.)
· I am grateful that in a time when unemployment plagues families across the nation, that my husband has gainful employment—a job that he enjoys.
· I am grateful that he had the foresight, motivation and dedication to go to school and earn an education to be able to provide or his future family.
· And when I pray at the dinner table each night, my heart is truly full of thanksgiving to the Lord for the food we have because I grew up in a single parent home where my mother could only pray that by the grace of God our ends would meet.
…she is able to joke about it now, saying “You’d know it was a good day if you had cut-up bits of hot dog mixed in your macaroni.”
Continuing in Alma; chapter 37, verse 37 asks for just such a show of gratitude…
“Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; ye when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God…”
In the hymn, “Count Your Blessings,” we sing, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”
That line struck a chord in my heart,
One of confusion…
On one hand, it shouldn’t surprise us because I feel we should always be aware and acknowledge that everything we have, everything we have been given has been given to us by our loving Father in heaven,
But on the other hand, as King Benjamin says in Mosiah 4:11, of the love and glory of God,
“…which has causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility…”
For when we realize and accept that we all fall short of the glory of God, that He sent his son, our Heavenly Brother to atone for all of our failures, sins, and shortcomings; that it is only by God’s sweet grace that we have been allotted anything in this life—it should be no surprise to us—
Because when we realize we are truly deserving of nothing, it makes it easy to be grateful for everything.
I leave these thoughts with you, humbly, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.