the gift we can all afford to give

3 10 2011

I heard him come in the house, work boots clomping against the hardwood floor. The footsteps stopped outside my office door, and I turned to ask if he needed help with something.

He stood there for a moment, then said, “I’m thankful to God for you.”

The unexpected words went straight to my heart, a jolt of delight, and I laughed. Had he really set aside his work and come inside for the sole purpose of saying that to me? I asked as much, and he shrugged.

“I was thinking about you, and I wanted to let you know.” Then, while my heart lay open, he listed specific reasons for his gratitude, and each affirmation was a dazzling brush stroke, painting love on my soul’s canvas.

“I’m thankful to God for you, too,” I said, the words rising from a deep well of joy, and I held the moment close, a holy trembling.

A mere moment. That’s all it was as time counts time. George went back outside, but the warmth of his words remained, a lingering benediction. It “just so happened” (oh, the sweetness of God’s ways), I’d been reading Robin Dance’s (in)courage post, Speak Life, about the power of spoken words to wound or bring life, and I thought about how George’s simple utterance had heaped a magnitude of grace on my soul. Why don’t I look for every opportunity to give this gift to the ones I love? Indeed, why do I often give the exact opposite?

And then I remembered his explanation. I was thinking about you.

Believe me, there are plenty of things George could have dredged up that would not have prompted gratitude to God for me. He could have recalled annoying habits or the multitude of ways I’ve offended, disappointed, and failed him — and no doubt the accuser would have happily thrown fuel on any of those fires. But he wasn’t dwelling on my faults. He was deliberately thinking about things he appreciates and admires, and his heart filled with thanks to God.

And then I realized why I miss so many opportunities to bless with my words. I allow critical, accusing, judgmental thoughts to fester, poisoning my mind. I’m not taking my thoughts captive. Not believing the best about other peoples’ motives. Not looking for whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — not searching to see if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, and then thinking about those things.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

I’m thankful to God for you. Those six simple words wrapped me in a tender embrace, and I’m awestruck at their power to make me feel loved — not only for what the words mean, but even more for the thoughts that gave them utterance.

And here’s another wonderful truth. This gift of thought-full words brings as much or more joy to the giver as to the one who receives it. It’s a gift that lifts both giver and receiver to a higher place, changing the world, one beautiful thought, one beautiful word at a time.

And all it costs the giver is a choice to think well and then speak well. Even if a million voices from without and within try to poison that spring, with God’s grace we can refuse them all. Why would we ever choose bitter water over sweet?

So, today I’m giving thanks to God in community for:

#265 a husband who loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and
#266 who loves me tenderly and well, in thought, word, and deed
#267 grace to cover all my sin
#268 new mercies every morning
#269 hot tea with lemon on a tickly throat
#270 highs in the 80’s!
#271 strength for the task at hand
#272 a job for Rusty when we leave
#273 recalling God’s faithfulness with friends
#274 prayer with a neighbor
#275 conviction of sin and repentance
#276 the ache beauty creates
#277 family
#278 the power of words to heal
# 279 you
(Yes, you. Thank you for sharing life with me)


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10 responses

3 10 2011
katdish

Aw…what a wonderful gift. I am grateful for so many things–and by things I mean not things but people and moments that God has blessed me with richly. One of them is you. You help me focus on light and somehow make it brighter with your words.

3 10 2011
Sharon O

Beautiful reminder that our words are gifts we can give to those who least expect them. Thank you for sharing this…tender moment.

3 10 2011
Tara

I’ve just reached the end of your book – a real blessing. So now that I see your mention of a job for Rusty when you leave, that made me wonder if you’ll be seeking a new aide for Jacob when you move. I sense that Rusty has had a special role in your family all these years. I’m sure he can’t be “replaced” but I trust the Lord will provide all that Jacob needs. 🙂 By the way, I needed this post today. Thank you.

5 10 2011
jeannedamoff

Dear Tara, I’m honored you read our story and so thankful it blessed you! Thanks for letting me know. You are right that it would be impossible to replace Rusty. He has become a part of our family. We’re not sure yet if we’ll hire a new aide. Lots to consider. We’re trusting God to make His plans for Jacob clear, and we certainly appreciate prayers for wisdom and guidance.

Thanks for asking and also for your kind words about the post.

Love, Jeanne

3 10 2011
Robin Dance (@PensieveRobin)

Jeanne,

What a wonderful surprise! I love reading this scene again (already read as a comment), and in this telling it’s fleshed out complete. You’ve connected dots and drawn a masterpiece in the process.

Thank you for sharing from your heart-places; a treasure trove abundant in love :).

3 10 2011
Jo Ann

What a sweet moment between the two of you! It’s amazing how everything changes when you focus and really celebrate the gifts you are given each moment, rather than letting the negative thoughts or circumstances take focus. Like you said with God’s grace we can refuse these things in taking up precious space in our thought life.
Thanks for sharing this Jeanne, I am always so blessed by your posts. 🙂

3 10 2011
Robin Lawrimore

“Then, while my heart lay open…” Kindness opens the heart to receive. Makes sense. “The kindness of God leads us to repentance.” Thank you.

4 10 2011
Sandra Heska King

Oh, Jeanne. I caught my breath. What a beautiful moment. What a sweet gift. And it only takes a moment. I’m thankful to God for you and your George who have awakened me to sharing this gift. xoxo

4 10 2011
Deidra

This is beautiful. Now I’m off to speak to my husband. Because you’ve got me thinking of him…

8 10 2011
llbarkat

Sweet to be thought of sweetly. 🙂

It would be cool to think, “Have I had my sweets today?” and by that mean, have I taken the time to engage in a blessed exchange? It could be so simple, couldn’t it? Nothing fancy.

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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