“For what we have and what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful.”
--Traditional grace before meals

What does it mean to be truly grateful? On the one hand, gratitude may arise out of a feeling of obligation for a favor shown; on the other, gratitude may reflect a deep appreciation for a gift. The words gratitude, grateful, gratuity and grace all come from various forms of the Latin words gratus (pleasing), gratia (out of favor or kindness) and gratis (free, without charge).

Your attitude toward gratitude—obligation vs. appreciation—defines your relationship with God, Life and the Universe. Are you, like Jonathon Edwards, a sinner in the hands of an angry God? Or are you an heir to the Universe, child of the God who creates all things? The punishment of hell motivates the sinner to seek salvation from the wrath of God. Fear, guilt and the need for redemption result in actions based upon feelings of unworthiness and obligation. There exists an underlying sense that things could be much worse, and we should just be grateful that they are not.

True gratitude, the type that results in feelings of joy, arises out of an understanding and appreciation for the awesome creative power of God—not just for the sudden creation of the world as we know it thousands of years ago or its gradual creation over millions of years, but for ongoing, timeless creation. Quantum physicists tell us that traveling at the speed of light, there is no time or space. These concepts are created by the perception of those not moving at the speed of light. A day may be like a thousand years from an earthly point of view (II Peter 3:8), but there is no such thing as time or space for the creative power of Life, which is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.

Scientists tell us that energy is mass and motion (E=mc²). Energy and mass or matter can be transformed, but nothing is ever really gained or lost. We accept this as scientific fact, yet we continue to think that God stopped creating the world after six days and that while God rests in the seventh day, his creation slips from order to chaos, ultimately bent on destroying itself.

Why is it so hard to believe that the infinite energy and matter available to God in creating the planets, solar systems and galaxies known to us remains eternally available? Because we think God is a one-book wonder, like Harper Lee who wrote one brilliant story in To Kill a Mockingbird and that was it. Do we really believe that God created life on earth and wrote the Bible and these contain all of the energy, love, life and truth of the Universe? Isn’t there a part of us that appreciates that the truth of the Universe cannot be contained in a single book on a single planet?

Appreciation for the gift of Life is what inspires true gratitude, the kind that arises out of love and produces freedom and joy. Life is everywhere--always has been and always will be. My life, my thoughts, my energy are a part of all Life, and for that I am truly grateful. For more information on how gratitude can transform your life, visit www.TokenofChange.com.

Author's Bio: 

Laurie Gray earned her B.A. from Goshen College (goshen, IN) in 1986 and her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law (Bloomington, IN) in 1993. From 1986-1990 Laurie taught Spanish and coached girls basketball and volleyball at Whitko High School (South Whitley, IN), working summers as an interpreter in Guatemala. After seven years in private practice, Laurie joined the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office (Fort Wayne, IN) focusing on felony sex crimes and the Child Advocacy Center. An experienced trial attorney, Laurie is currently a part-time Deputy Prosecutor assigned to the Drug Court Intervention Program and Juvenile Sex Crimes. For information on Laurie’s writing projects, please visit www.SocraticParenting.com and www.TokenofChange.com.