As we welcome November and the promise of cooler weather, turkey leftovers, and family gatherings, we also enter the official spokes-month for gratitude. A time when we take a personal inventory of all that we are grateful for – from people to things, jobs to homes, children to critters. All of us have something to be thankful for, even in our darkest moments, and for many of us we can swell up with a feeling of being blessed.
But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this word blessed. No doubt it’s trending right now – you can find it on everything from dish towels to picture frames. And it’s a perfectly good word. But it’s also a word that I think we sometimes get mixed up with grateful.
You see, blessed is a passive word, whereas grateful is an active word. Someone gives you a blessing, but you have to take an action to be grateful. Being grateful is a decision. We are fond of saying that God has blessed us. And trust me, I wholeheartedly believe He has, but maybe just not in the way we think.
Now if you feel like I’m on the edge of blasphemy here, please stick with me. I promise this will turn out okay.
Let’s say you have a beautiful home and a good job. It’s easy to say, “I’m so blessed.” But here’s the flip side. Is the person who lost their job not blessed? The person who is working two jobs just to make ends meet less blessed?
Or think about how often you’ve heard the phrase, “I’m blessed with good health.” Great, but does that mean the person who has cancer is not blessed? That they somehow incurred wrath from somewhere?
I can hear you thinking, “No way. That’s not what I meant at all.”
And I’m with you. What we really mean is that we are grateful for our homes, our jobs, our health. And we would never want our gratitude to be confused for the belief that we have somehow received divine preference over our neighbors.
Blessings are something that we, the collective humanity, share. Nature and life itself are blessings. Things we can all enjoy. I, personally, don’t believe they are doled out to a few, and I don’t believe they always look like we would expect them to.
And while this may seem like a game of semantics, words really do matter. (Yes, I was an English major, so humor me with this one for moment.) Think about someone whose world is falling apart. If you are busy talking about your blessings, things that are received, where does that leave them? It leaves them feeling like they are walking around under a dark cloud, out of sorts, out of favor.
Rather, share your gratitude. Your zest to acknowledge all that is beautiful, from the smallest to the greatest moments. Trust me, I am a recovering blessing user myself. I used to liberally smatter blessings here, there, and everywhere. But after reading an article about the importance of our words, I realized I was truly filled with gratitude. I wanted to wish people a beautiful day, a day with at least one moment of happy, and leave blessings to the big guy.
So as you start to make your plans for family dinners, school activities, and get togethers with friends, I encourage you to think about those words that are most meaningful for you and those you love. How will they impact others? How can you share your gratitude?
P.S. A version of this post was published in the Glen Rose Reporter. This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.
4 thoughts on “What’s in a Word?”
Thank you, Tammy, for putting into words something I’ve just begun thinking about recently. The contrast between blessing and gratitude really is stunning…and worth thinking about.
Thank you so much for reading. It was something I read about awhile ago and it just really stuck with me. Glad you liked it!
Yes! So good! I just came across your blog through your comment on Rob Bell’s Instagram (I really want to attend one of those sessions too!) and couldn’t agree with you more. We have every blessing through Jesus… for everything else in this world, I’m so thankful. Beautiful words and I wish you the best with all your future writing!
Hi there. Thank you so much for finding, reading, and following. The Rob Bell workshop was amazing. So many folks doing so many interesting things. Plus, Rob is an engaging speaker and teacher. So many things to learn. Wishing you well in 2018!