1 month ago
Monday, November 23, 2015
It's Thanksgiving week. As usual, as the week approaches, I've been a little more reflective. My blessings are innumerable; to count them feels impossible. But, still, as I've been counting them one by one, I've been asking myself this:
How do I show gratitude for all that I have, for all the ways I'm blessed?
I try to offer prayers of gratitude more often, expressing with my words and heart throbs that I appreciate my gifts and blessings, and recognize the Source of it all. But, somehow as life goes on and I find myself continually more and more indebted to God, it starts to feel like a simple prayer just isn't enough.
Lately, I've become aware of verses of scripture that talk about giving thanks in a different way.
"...when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water. And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God." (1 Nephi 2:7)
"And it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel." (1 Nephi 5:9)
"...after I and my brethren and all the house of Ishmael had come down unto the tent of my father, they did give thanks unto the Lord their God; and they did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto him." (1 Nephi 7:22)
Prophets of old, in living the Law of Moses, offered sacrifices of Thanksgiving. That law has since been fulfilled, but I feel drawn to consider what kind of sacrifices I could offer that would show my thankfulness.
I was reminded of a time in Italy when President Curtis encouraged us to fast, focusing only on our expressions of gratitude, not asking for anything. Those 24 hours without food and water ended up being one of the sweetest fasting experiences I've ever had. That may have been when I understood best what he meant when he told us that "one of the fastest ways to bring the Spirit into your lives is through expressing gratitude."
As I searched for other answers, I came across this quote by Elder Oaks: "Our Savior requires us to continue to offer sacrifices, but the sacrifices He now commands are that we “offer for a sacrifice unto [Him] a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” He also commands each of us to love and serve one another—in effect, to offer a small imitation of His own sacrifice by making sacrifices of our own time and selfish priorities. In an inspired hymn, we sing, “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven."
This Thanksgiving, I'm counting my blessings as well as thinking of sacrifices I can offer that will prove my gratitude with my actions and not my prayers alone. I'll search for chances to help someone in need, I'll make cookies and build puzzles with my kids, I'll seek out a sad heart to gladden, I'll spend more quality time with Marc after the kids are in bed, I'll ask for heaven to guide me to those who need my time and my help.
And, after Thanksgiving is over, I'll try even harder to remember all of this. Everyday I'm blessed. Everyday I can find ways to sacrifice my time, my talents to show just how grateful I am for all that I have been given.
What will you sacrifice? I'd love to hear your ideas, too!