The Humility Story: Gratitude Laughs

My husband told me a story about a company who hired a guy, in part, because they saw a funny picture of him on his blog.  They liked that he didn’t take himself too seriously.  What a humble guy, you know, who can laugh at himself?

Sometimes I think that’s what gets me all in a stew during my daily drive of read-alouds and food preparation and folding laundry — I just forget to laugh. It is, perhaps, too simple and idiotic to let go of worry to ponder over soap bubbles in the sink, as Ann Voskamp does in One Thousand Gifts. Her gift number 363 is this: “Rays reflecting hues off translucent globes.” Really, Ann?  Really? We have crosses to bear here. Boys with angry fire in their eyes and a mess of a mama to guide them.

She gets that, I know. It is I who struggle to release my grabbing at life.  “Greed grabs,” Don Postema says in Space for God.  “Gratitude receives.  That’s why gratitude often seems like a radical reaction to life.  Gratitude takes nothing for granted.”

Thomas Merton anoints the ordinary with these words:

To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us–and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.

Or if you prefer the Heidelberg Catechism, how is this for perspective?

Providence is
the almighty and ever present power of God
by which he upholds, as with his hand,
and earth
and all creatures,
and so rules them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty–
all things, in fact, come to us
not by chance
but from his fatherly hand.

Did you catch that?  Rain and drought? Fruitful and lean years? And then that food and drink bit gets me, too.  These questions and rough places are also from “his fatherly hand.”

I duck my head in broken shame at that reminder, and I am back in His arms, the returned prodigal. I’m muttering something about paying Him back with my service for all I’ve wronged Him. But instead, I’m in the arms of a Father who’s declaring that I be decked out in the best robe in the house. He’s responding to my repentance with laughter, and demanding that I be pulled into the party.

Oh, yes, I can feast this week!

And I know that means I have to let him wipe from my face all shame, for a woman forgiven and adored “laughs at the time to come” (Proverbs 31.25). Only someone who is steeped in gratitude can stop worrying about what is long enough to laugh at what will be. (Time magazine would concur, I think.)

Here, Don Postema makes the connection again for us.

You awaken to the fact that your life is a gift…. The realization may go deeper during a time of worship when you become aware that God’s great gift of Jesus Christ was given not only for everyone, but for you….  You belong. God has made a space for you. Whether you live or die, you belong to the Lord. A joyous surge stirs in you and you want to bow in humble gratitude.

Gratitude is the appropriate response to belonging.

And so gratitude not only inspires worship, but humble, joyful worship. (Is there any other kind?) Digging out my gratitude journal for this Thanksgiving week and using it is perhaps the most practical exercise of humility. It turns my focus away from grabbing and toward given. But it also proves how humility is really not something I need to worry about. “Humility is,” as Tim Keller says, “so shy,” such a subtle thing that at the moment I turn to God in a thank you, it has quite taken care of itself. Which is really kind of funny.

Would you like to join me?  The Humility Story is yours, too.  If you have a scene from this story you’d like to blog about, feel free to leave your link in the comments.  We’ll continue this journey together.

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