Learning to be thankful is a lifelong process that involves family, friends and church.
The Interpreter Magazine recently asked its readers, “How did you learn to express gratitude?” The many responses included remarks from a member of Gladwin United Methodist Church, Patricia Engelbrecht.
I learned to express gratitude on the knee of my Great Grandma Effie Alexander. She raised my sister and me and did not complain. Ma Effie (as we all called her) was a devout woman who taught me how to pray, to read my Bible and to trust in the love that Jesus has for me. “Thanks to God” was never far from her lips. And in her gratitude to God for all the blessings bestowed upon her, she was diligent in making sure that we knew too to “thank the Lord at all times.” The Rev. Effie McAvoy, the UMC of York Ogunquit, York, Maine
I learned to express gratitude because it was modeled before me. I listened to my parents and grandparents say prayers and sing songs of thanksgiving on a regular basis. When I went to church, the pastor and church leaders always stressed the word “gratitude.” At an early age, gratitude was embedded in my fiber. Somehow, I knew that my blessings didn’t just show up from nowhere, so I thanked God continuously. Gloria Watkins Brown, Faith UMC, Twinsburg, Ohio
I grew up in a large family and one thing I was taught was to say please and thank you as an act of courtesy, but I was taught to express gratitude by my actions. We were taught to show gratitude the grace we received by giving grace in all ways. We were taught to “pay it forward” when we could not show our gratitude directly to the one from whom we received. The Rev. Matthew Filicsky, Fairmount, Fairview and Georgetown UMCs, Georgetown, Illinois
I learned early as a child to be grateful after seeing those not so fortunate. I understood I had little control over life’s benefits and accepted that I received unearned grace, which meant I had duties to others as a required expression of gratitude. Larry Keller, Rockport UMC, Lakewood, Ohio
I learned to express gratitude from a single aunt. She lived in a three-room house on very little. Yet she taught her nieces and nephews to appreciate the robin on her nest, the rabbit scampering through the tall grass, the stars with all their formations, and a batch of fresh baked cookies. She taught me to appreciate all the little things! Bill Moore, Schweitzer UMC, Springfield, Missouri
Expressing gratitude has been a lifelong process. As a child growing up in a Christian home and on a ranch, gratitude was in everything we did. We saw the wonders of God every day and were taught to enjoy and express our love for our Lord through the beauty of his creation. Pamela Shaw, St. Andrew UMC, Borger, Texas
Several years ago I attended a church where testimonial services were held every first Sunday. During that time, I never gave a “testimony” because I felt that I didn’t have one because I had not experienced any of the issues of drug and alcohol addiction or abuses that were often talked about. I later realized that having NOT experienced those things was my testimony and I learned to express gratitude for how God spared me from those ills. Wanda Clay, Clark Memorial UMC, Nashville, Tennessee
I learned to express gratitude by observing the current pastor at Everglades Community Church. He sends hand-written thank you cards to every adult, youth and child who participates in the ministries and missions of the church. He also expresses gratitude to the congregation for sharing God’s love through deed and word with the people they interact with regularly in his weekly newsletter message. Valerie Peralta, Everglades Community Church, Pembroke Pines, Florida
Gratitude can be a type of recognition with; listening, a smile, a hug, a phone call, a handwritten note, a card, a treat, a flower, or/ and a warm meaningful thank you, with a prayerful blessing from God. Patricia Engelbrecht, First UMC, Gladwin, Michigan