This Thanksgiving season, I’ve been pondering what these three words printed on fall decor, clothing, and signs mean together: Grateful, Thankful, Blessed.
At first, I thought they were merely synonymous and interchangeable, redundant to read on ceramic pumpkins, sweatshirts, and wall hangings. They all convey a sense of appreciation, but with further consideration, I can now see how they vary. Here is my take on these adjectives, and no matter what definitions I attach, you may have other theories. No worries, there is no right or wrong. Basically, they are beautiful words, manifestations of contentment that the entire world has the opportunity to use. I feel powerfully humble and fulfilled when I can say, “I am grateful. I am thankful. I am blessed.”
Thankful is a feeling, a sudden recognition of relief and/or satisfaction. Feelings come in a moment, affecting us inside such as when we are happy, sad, thankful, bored, or excited. Feelings are fleeting and fly away like birds who’ve emptied the feeder. After the feeler has felt and the moment has passed, a new feeling can replace the old one.
But if the feeler keeps feeling and dwelling on a pain or perpetuates a pleasure, the feeling can fester or grow into a state of being. Feelings that are habitually harbored or entertained can turn into personality traits. For instance, if someone continues to sprout and protect her happy feathers she may be deemed as a cheerful, optimistic, upbeat bird. Those who stay cloaked in sadness can become morose, pessimistic, or depressed mourning doves; they could benefit by flying around with a flock of cheer. One who constantly masks his true feelings and hides his head in the ground like an ostrich might be shy or insecure.
Someone who continues to give thanks for things great and small becomes grateful, a giving personality trait. Gratefulness grows into gratitude which is an attitude. Being grateful is an active characteristic of someone whose cornucopia overflows and she knows it; this simply means she has more than enough, she is thankfully aware, and shares her plentiful goodness with others.
Gifts of gratitude don’t have to be monetary or charitable gifts, but they can be. Grateful people are generous beyond dollars, offering time, attention, praise, kindness, laughter and prayers. Hence, they show their appreciation for others. The concept of pay it forward can be read on their palms, their open, giving hands.
One who receives another’s gratitude gifts might be thankful and grateful or eventually become grateful. *There is no time frame when a person can grow into this virtuous state of being, but the older one gets the more practice she has of playing the piano keys of a song I call, “Thanksgiving: giving thanks.” Grateful is how people act after they have accumulated enough thankful feelings and earn this upgraded appreciation reward.
The last term I’ll attempt to define according to my perception is: blessed. Being blessed is a spiritual gift granted to the saints, sinners, faithful and non-believers. Everyone of us is blessed whether we know it or not.
I think to be blessed in the context of this post is to be in a precise moment or position where God works through others in His time and way. God’s way for me isn’t always what I would have chosen for myself, but I am working on my faith to trust His process.
Blessings, like feelings, are fleeting and will come and go all the livelong day. I am impatient and enjoy immediate gratification, so I admit, when praying to God, I wish to be helped, healed, or given an answer right away, on my terms. I crave a quick drive-thru service of supreme blessings, the Beatitudes of comfort, protection, mercy, fulfillment, and peace.
God is not a fast-food worker though. He is in no hurry and has all the time in the world, literally. He is my Savior, and I am his servant. He is God who bestows blessings when they best serve His purpose for my part in the story of life, the mystery in which He is both the author and omniscient narrator.
I have faith that this good, all-knowing God has a better plan than I do, so I continue to clasp my hands together to give thanks as much as I can every single day. The more thanks I give the more daily miracles I find. Blessed revelations just pop out when I least expect them, and like Louis Armstrong, “I think to myself what a wonderful world.”
Blessings are present tense bridges between this world to the spiritual one where we’ve been invited to spend eternity. Earthly blessings are temporal. Heavenly ones last forever.
Paying attention is the key to finding those double rainbows on a rainy day. But then I miss a lot of blessings because I’m also distracted and inattentive, often rushing through moments instead of savoring them. I’m working on slowing down.
Thankfulness and gratitude lead to a treasure map of blessings, a foretaste of thy kingdom come. You can’t buy blessings, but you can find them with an open mind, positive attitude, and faithful guide. I am thankful to be on this journey in which I hope to be more actively grateful. I am blessed in more ways than I even know. I pray to be more present and aware.
I hope to seed, nurture, and grow a gratitude garden. I’m no gardener and could serve life in green-thumb-prison for all the plants I’ve neglected, dehydrated, and ultimately killed, but I will give it my best shot to sprout some blessed blooms that I can share with you.
May you all shine on and enjoy the trinity of being grateful, thankful, and blessed.