"With thankful hearts, offer up your prayers and requests to God."
This is our yellow belt verse at the Refinery. As a white belt, the first thing you learn is to show respect to the dojo, to Sensei, to your classmates, and to yourself. Respect for all of these things is needed before you can be thankful for them. I think this is one of the reasons why Philippians 4:6 is the yellow belt verse and not the first thing that new students learn.
Thankfulness isn't really a learned thing in and of itself. There are a lot of other lessons that must be learned before thankfulness can be truly possible. For example, as I mentioned above, respect for something is required before you can be thankful for it. If I don't respect someone, I'm probably never going to be truly thankful for them until I can find some part of them to respect. Granted, respect usually has to be earned...but sometimes it's easy to show a lack of respect for someone or something, even after they've more than proven themselves worthy of it.
Another thing is humility. I wasn't thankful the first time I got thrown. I was scared and slightly embarrassed to be on the ground while my opponent was standing. It wasn't long until I learned that arrogance has no place in training. Pride can be good, but arrogance and stubbornness are two obstacles that can get in the way of being thankful. Chances are, if I consider myself above someone or something, I won't be thankful for its presence in my life. Why should I be? If I am ultimately better than someone, THEY should be thankful for ME, right?
You can see how that attitude can get in the way of being thankful. Humility is needed for thankfulness because the humble mindset allows you to treasure things that you need to help you grow.
One more thing that has to come before thankfulness can be achieved is love--not just love for the person or thing that you are thankful for, but love for yourself, too. It might sound kind of crazy, but I think sometimes we don't ALLOW ourselves to be thankful for what we have. The mindset that society teaches us to live in is a mindset of always wanting more. This frame of mind also teaches us not to trust in ourselves, God, and other people in our lives and, in essence, teaches us not to love ourselves and the things that we should be thankful for. We must love ourselves enough to allow ourselves give thanks and trust that we'll be able to be happy and get by with what we have.
So in order for thankfulness to be achieved, we need humility, respect, and love. Putting it simply, we're humbly thankful for those people and things that we respect and love.
Let's do our best to be thankful today for health and friends and family and martial arts and pumpkin pie1 and whatever else we can think of. My pastor said something the other day at church that really struck something in me. She said, "Have you noticed that you can't be thankful without being happy too?"
Sounds like a hint to me! Happy Thanks Giving!
1. My mom just finished baking a homemade pumpkin pie and it smells great! I love pumpkin pie, it's my favorite. I have a feeling I'm about to be even MORE thankful in a few minutes. Not sure about next week, though. I wonder if I'll still be able to do the flying side kick after this week! Haha.