The fear of not being originally thankful.

Many of my friends are thankful this month. Each day they are listing one thing they are thankful for. On Facebook.

I’m glad for them. You might say I’m thankful for them. (That takes care of day five.)

But I can’t do that. I have this thing inside me that drives me to be original. I have to find the different perspective, the odd angle. And so, when it comes to being publicly grateful, I have a hard time. I feel unoriginal.

Do you know what I mean? We say, “Yes, I’m thankful for that, too” but we think, “Bother. That was my best one. What else can I come up with?”

Or I feel hyper-sensitive. We know that if we say we’re thankful for our job, we’re afraid that it will offend someone who doesn’t have a job right now.

2013-06-14 18.51.07I mean I’m grateful for Nancy. But everyone is grateful for their spouse or significant other (or should be). And I don’t want to sound like a self-centered greeting card that talks about how she makes me feel or how she completes me. I want to help complete her, after all. And I’m not sure that I want to tell you why I am thankful for her because it will mean that I have to talk here about how selfish I actually am, although I do my best to mask it. And I know that she sees through that mask and still offers encouragement and patience and challenge and grace that no one sees and no one else does. 

But here’s the thing that scares me at the moment. The biggest obstacle to expressing gratitude isn’t that I’m concerned about originality or offending. It’s that I’m concerned about it being merely performance.

I mean, it’s easy to write this post and offer thanks publicly, just like I learned to offer public gratitude in my annual Thanksgiving Eve service 2-minute grateful speech. Because I know that there are public points for apparent thoughtfulness.

But what about the private, daily, personal eye-to-eye demonstrations of gratitude? Ah, that’s the challenge.

For me. Not for you. You’re doing great. And for that I’m thankful.

This is the second of a series of reflections on gratitude.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

2 thoughts on “The fear of not being originally thankful.

  1. How much must I have in order to be “thankful?” Can I be thankful if my prayers go unanswered according to my request? Am I grateful if my wife’s health does not improve and all I have for which to hope is salvation????? I am learning that I have NOT learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am.

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