Better Late Than Never

Better late than never, they say.  Is eight months after the wedding an acceptable time to send out thank you cards?  Doesn’t matter.  Once I’d read it, it was easy to overlook my daughter’s procrastination.

After dutifully listing in great detail the gifts and tasks we’d done for the wedding, she launched into expressions of gratitude going back much farther than eight months.  All the way to her birth, actually, and it brought tears to her dad’s eyes as I attempted to read it aloud through my own.  She thanked us for giving her life, for teaching her to follow Christ, for patience and birthday cakes and Christian education.  She thanked us for giving her opportunities to think for herself and to be herself, even when that self was turning us red with embarrassment or driving us to our knees in fear for her safety.

I think I read the card at least three times between its arrival and bedtime.

There’s just something too wonderful about receiving genuine gratitude from one’s child.  Did it make us love her any more than we did before?  Of course not.  Did it make us want to do more for her in the future?  Possibly.  Most of all, it just blessed our socks off.  When you’re in the middle of the child rearing years or waiting up past curfew for teenagers, there are moments you think the ungrateful little snots will never grow up.  You’re constantly second-guessing yourself and the decisions you make on their behalf.  You worry over how they’ll “turn out” and doubt it will ever be worth it all.  Then one day, a little thank you card arrives in the mail and you realize you’d do it all again.  And you think to yourself, “that one turned out just fine!”

The card started me thinking about gratitude, on two levels.  How much had I expressed to my own parents?  Dad’s been gone for twenty years and I still miss him like crazy.  But Mom’s around, and if my heartfelt gratitude does for her what my daughter’s did for me, I really must make it a habit to express it more than once a year on Mothers Day.

And what happens in God’s heart when his children express their thanks?  Daily I come to him with my list of concerns and requests and frustrations.  Too often I offer only a mechanical grace at meals.  Like a whiney child or defiant teen, I tell God what I think I need from him and then skip along my merry way when I get it—or grumble when I don’t.  But now that I can begin to grasp how his parent-heart might swell with joy from my gratefulness—how can I not offer it up continually when I have been given so much?

I intend to keep my daughter’s thank-you card in full view for a long time, as a reminder.  May my story serve to remind you as well.  Your gratitude can never make God love you any more, nor will your ungratefulness ever make him love you any less.  But YOU have the power to bless his heart!  You can make him smile and say, “that one turned out just fine!”

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  Colossians 2:6-7

by Terrie Todd
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