Finally. Finally, I no longer have to hover around Selah when she is receiving gifts to correct her responses or apologize for her saying something rude like" uh, thanks, but why did you get me this?" or "thanks, but I already have one of those, and I would really prefer..." or just sit in un-smiling silence. Ugh. Embarrassing. Frustrating. Confusing.
So often the things she would express the least amount of gratefulness for, or even interest in, would be her favorite toy/activity/creativity spurring item that would receive hours and hours of use/play time.
How many hours of pre-party or special-occasion-day have I role-played with her how to respond gratefully for gifts given? Explaining to her ever-questioning mind why even if you receive a gift that isn't your favorite, you should still express gratitude for the love and thoughtfulness that was behind the giving. Explaining that even if you receive the same gift more than once (like construction paper or paints) that it is still a kind and thoughtful gift and deserving of gratefulness.
I tried explaining that enjoying a gift and expressing thankfulness when it was received is not the same thing.
"Thank you" is one of the first responses I taught her from baby-hood was right, expected, polite, kind, Christ-like. And it wouldn't just be when she received a gift wrapped in a package, anytime I handed her a snack, read her a book, or got something off a too-high counter I would encourage thankfulness for every act of kindness. Reminding her to say "thank you" is still a regular discipline, and the only thing that I can think of that remains from her baby-training days.
And while her verbal responses and facial expression are now (mostly) appropriate, gratefulness still does not come to her as naturally as I would like.
I have wondered why has this been so difficult to train her in?
I am beginning to understand.
I've been reading Ann's book, and counting thanks with the gratitude community from a Holy Experience for several months now, and I am beginning to understand.
As I've been practicing the hard discipline of saying "thank you" for all those everyday gifts from God--the less obvious ones that don't come in packages with bows-- I have become painfully aware of how often I have had the attitude of "thanks for today, but why did you give me this to deal with?...". And for repeat gifts I, like the Israelites in the desert eating manna for many years, become ungrateful because I have all kinds of expectations of what "satisfying" and "good" should look like.
Even worse, when it's a gift that isn't really my favorite, something I would really rather not add to my collection of things to pray about and deal with, I have the attitude that it is not a gift at all.
I am learning. Slowly.
His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts, and some of the hardest gifts He's ever given are--- now--- far and away my favorites.
Like Selah. The one I'm teaching who is educating me. She is actually much better at her basic manners than I am. When we record things on our gratitude lists... her awareness of all there is to be thankful for makes these blinded eyes blur repentance.
"oxygen... the dirt of the earth... the sunshine and vitamin B--uh, I mean vitamin D... that Jesus died on the cross for our sins..."
I don't pretend to understand the way God thinks and why He chooses to do/allow/orchestrate certain things. But I know the One who is giving the gifts, and I trust Him because I know Him. I know there is love and thoughtfulness behind each gift, especially the hard ones.
Practicing this messy, wonderful journey of learning basic manners with the Holy Experience Community...
#319 Baby's joy in being able to feed herself
#320 soccer in the park, bright red ball and rosy cheeks
#321 Baby picking up the ball and running with it, her Daddy chasing, catching up both
#322 picnic smiles
#323 crunchy chips, veggies, crackers
#324 sippy cup clutched in chubby, grubby hands
#325 boys playing baseball
#326 being two feet away from a bison, wondrous size and strength and beauty too
#327 blooming archways, bark, new green blanketing old gray, "nature treasures"
#328 waving prairie grasses, sharp contrast of green and gold
#329 Little Girl grin-whispering "I'm just like Laura on the prairie!..."
#330 Baby smelling flowers, leaves, rocks...
#332 tired Husband carrying the huge, sweaty five year old down the long, limestone trails
#333 her joy being lifted, held, carried
#334 peaceful house full of napping... Husband, kiddos, even the cat
#335 tall glass of cool water
#336 pens that work
#337 new creative ideas
#338 washing hot feet in cold water
#339 big, soft, comfy t-shirts
#340 canopy shaded pathways
#341 drain stopper, cheese grater, ladle
#342 Baby so helpfully setting the cat food out of the bowl, one tiny piece at a time
#343 mixing dirt, planting seeds
#344 Husband-built garden beds, compost bins
#345 breeze fresh off the water
#346 swinging with my children
#347 Daddy imagination, girl giggles
#348 a pair of shoes that fit the Baby... and she broke them in too!