Saturday, December 17, 2016

Living in Thanksgiving Daily


"Humble yourselves, worship God, live in thanksgiving daily"

This scripture from the Book of Mormon (Alma 34:38), has given me a lot to think about. 

The word thanksgiving is usually associated with the Pilgrims, a people who had very little of the comforts of home. In their very first year, after much trial and hardship, death and disease, they sat down at a feast with their new neighbors to say "thank you" for all the things they did have, despite not having very much.

It reminds me of another story in the Book of Mormon, the people of Alma, who were in bondage. They escaped from the Lamanites in the middle of the night while the guards were sleeping, and finally made it safety. It says in Mosiah 24:20-22:

"And [after] they had traveled all day [in the wilderness], they pitched their tents. Yea, they poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens."

In both stories, these people had a lot to be unhappy about. The people of Alma had suffered for so long, and there was so much they could complain about. It was the same for the Pilgrims. Yet they both chose to live in thanksgiving daily.

What can living in thanksgiving daily give you?

I think all of us can find something to be unhappy about There's something that is not going right, something that we wish were different. Yet as Elder Worthlin says, "Think for a moment of someone you know who is truly happy. We've all met those who seem to radiate happiness. They seem to smile more than others, they laugh more than others-- just being around them makes us happier as well. These are the people that have the attribute of gratitude-- they live in thanksgiving daily."


What is life like without thanksgiving daily?

In this phenomenal talk by Elder Worthlin, he tells a story. See if you can see yourself in this man who is the subject of his story.

"A long time ago in a faraway village lived a man who everyone did their very best to avoid. He was the type of person who believed that there was only one competent person in the world, and that one person was himself. Consequently he was never satisfied with anything. His shoes never fit right. His shirt never felt comfortable. When his food wasn’t too cold, it was too salty, and when it wasn’t too hot, it was too bland.
If a field wasn’t sowed by himself, it was not sowed well. If he didn’t close the door, the door was not closed properly.
In short, he made a career of frowning, lecturing, criticizing, and mumbling about the incompetencies of every other person in the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, the man was married, which made matters all the worse. No matter what his wife did, in his eyes it was wrong. No matter what the unfortunate woman cooked, sewed, or cleaned, or even when she milked the cow, it was never satisfactory, and he let her know it.
She tried very hard to be a good wife, but it seemed the harder she tried the less she pleased him."
Have you ever found yourself feeling like this? Nothing is right? Nobody can do anything right, and you HATE everything? I know I have! 😄
But think again about that person you know who seems to radiate happiness, the person that is full of gratitude.
"Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character." Elder Worthlin states, "We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable."
I don't know about you, but that is the kind of person I want to be. I want to live in thanksgiving daily. I want to show my Heavenly Father who much I love him, and how grateful I am for all He has given me.

How to live in thanksgiving daily

First, as Elder Worthlin states, we must open our eyes.

We need to see the goodness that is around us. It's so easy in the world to let everything grow monotonous, for everything to feel the same. But, there is much to see if we only open our eyes. The beauty of a flower or the kindness someone offers us, the laugh of a child. When we open our eyes we are more willing to see what God has already put in front of us.
My old neighbor Rachel always exemplified this. She was one of those kind of people that would knock on your door and say with a smile, "It's raining! Isn't it wonderful? Do you guys want to come out and play in the rain with us?" I must say her love for life was infectious! 

Second, we can open our hearts.

Sister Neill F. Marriott tells the story of an experience she had many years ago with a woman she needed to forgive. She talks about her heart being so hard because she was so hurt and frustrated with the way this other woman treated her. She spent a lot of time talking to the Lord about it, but little time listening. She said, finally, when she paused, she felt the spirit tell her, "You just need to love her. Like I love her." From that moment on she began praying to feel Heavenly Father's love for this woman.
She read in Moroni 7:48: Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Many of us have people we are harboring ill feelings towards. I know I have those in my life I need to forgive. I have found that when I focus less on how I feel, and more on how I can be filled with my Savior's love for them, I find more things to be grateful for. There ends up being more room in my heart for others because I am not so consumed with being frustrated by the way other people treat me.

Lastly, we can open our arms.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, we went with my sister's family to visit a rest home and wish them all a Happy Thanksgiving. I watched as my brother-in-law would tenderly hold their hands and look into their eyes as he talked to them. It really touched me. So often we overlook people or do service to make ourselves look better. But really, service is about other people. It's about lifting their hearts. It's about forgetting yourself for awhile, shelving your own problems and thinking about someone else's.
I have found that when I serve others, I am more aware of what I have by recognizing where others are in desperate need. For some, it's a listening ear. For others, it's money to pay for the light bill. For another, it's a loving family. The Lord has greatly blessed all of us, and the only thing he asks for in return is a thankful heart.
Again from Elder Worthlin, 
"Over the course of my years, I have met thousands of people. I have dined with the prosperous as well as the poverty-stricken. I have conversed with the mighty and with the meek. I have walked with the famous and the feeble. I have run with outstanding athletes and those who are not athletically inclined. 
One thing I can tell you with certainty is this: You cannot predict happiness by the amount of money, fame, or power a person has. External conditions do not necessarily make a person happy. The brethren who have had assignments in Africa report that despite the abject poverty, the people are very happy. The fact is that the external things so valued by the world are often the cause of a great deal of misery in the world. Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, are usually among the world’s happiest people. And they make others happy as well."

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