Whenever I bring my 3 year old son a toy home regardless of the size or cost he is usually ecstatic. He is always so happy and so thankful for anything I give him. He gives me a hug and most of the time says “Thanks Daddy” he then goes off and plays with it and most of the time breaks it because he has played with it so much.
Last week I was talking with a guy named Ted. Ted is about 75 years old and works at the church I attend. As I was talking to him last week, I was making small talk, I asked him “How do you like working at the church?”
He immediately perked up and talked about how much he loved it. One of the first things he talked about was how they gave him shirts and stuff. He then went on to talk about how much he loved working and how thankful he was to be working.
This guy is 75 years old. He has lived more than double my years and he is excited about a $12 polo. When he said that, a light bulb went off in my mind. I sat there and thought, WOW this guy has got it.
He is THANKFUL. Thankful for the large and the small. Thankful for his health, thankful what is given regardless of how elaborate or how minute.
When I was driving home I thought of Teagen, my 3 year old, and how similar they are. They are both thankful for the large and the small, and appreciate what is given.
Then I got to thinking about myself.
• Why does a free polo not excite me?
• Why do I expect someone to pay for my lunch when I am asked to a lunch meeting?
• Why when I take a trip somewhere do I expect the passenger to offer to pay for some of the gas?
I don’t totally know that answer. The better question is what happens in the middle? What happens between the age of 3 and 75 to make us unthankful and so expectant or entitled?
Some people think we become unthankful in teen years. The teen years are when most parents give without expecting thanks because they are teens. Then we quit teaching thankfulness and manners.
I believe it also happens as our lives change due to the influences around us. Many say, “We are a product of the people we spend time with and the books we read.” Someone or something influences everyone; my son’s number one influence is ME. I have not taught him to expect anything, but the world teaches him to expect everything.
The message the world is sending is “Get what’s yours. It’s all about you. Do what you feel.” Repetition breeds patterns of belief and the world shoves that ideology thousands of times a day. It is a form of idolatry and rebellion to love ourselves and what we want more than God and people. It’s a product of brokenness that is fed and encouraged by the message that the world sends as we age.
Find value in the little things. This is only done through contentment and not comparing ourselves to one another with what we have and don’t have.
If you are reading this, your problems are 1st world problems and not 3rd world problems. When you understand that your problems are not really problems you are by nature more thankful.