When we teach gratitude that is the beginning point, the foundation, the place, that all other positive attributes spring from. When I first heard that I had to ponder on that for along time. I do believe it now.
Think about humility. Why are you humble? Because you are grateful for the service someone else has given you.
Gratitude causes a softening of the heart. All the other virtues can grow out of a soft heart. You think about any positive attribute and see if you can really have it without being grateful.
If there is an absence of gratitude then….
President James E. Faust said, “As gratitude is absent or disappears, rebellion often enters and fills the vacuum. I refer to rebellion against moral cleanliness, beauty, decency, honesty, reverence, and respect for parental authority.” (“Gratitude as a Saving Principle”, Ensign December 1996, pg 2)
Because that’s true…if you have contention, rebellion, children that say “That’s not fair”., what’s missing….Gratitude. That void that comes will be filled by these hard hearted traits. The key is that we need to consciously teach gratitude. We tend to teach that if you want something, “make me a Santa list”
You take your kids to the store and they are being good they ask if they can have a package of donuts and they say can I have a sucker at the next store. Because it’s not expensive and it’s not a sacrifice to us we tend to give it to them. Just because something isn’t wrong doesn’t mean that it’s right.
We tend to overindulge our children. We allow them to live at the level of least resistance and then we complain. All we require is that level of least resistance. As they live there they develop the feeling of entitlement.
When they start having this attitude of gratitude their heart softens they become more compliant.
Pg 90---at the bottom….actual physical attributes, tangible things that come when you have a grateful heart.
A grateful heart is not just saying thank you. When you are grateful you see the good, you experience the good, you look to the good.
Examples of living in gratitude:
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with the young women in the church. I have been concerned about how many of them are not interested in “growing up to be mothers”. When I ask them “why”, they say because it isn’t fun. Their mothers complain no one will help and how discouraging it is to just do the same dishes and wash the same clothes over and over again. Their mother’s murmur about how hard it is to have children that do not obey and help enough. It is no wonder these young women do not want to grow up to be mothers. This is certainly not an attitude of gratitude for the blessing of motherhood.
Winnie Dalley shares her grateful view of motherhood in the Ensign of March 1998. “The young mother says: “I can’t wait until my kids are older and off to school. I know I chose to become a mother, but sometimes I just feel so trapped. My whole life revolves around dirty diapers, crying kids, and unending housework. I hesitate to speak, for fear of sounding insensitive. I can understand those feelings. “But don’t you see,” I yearn to say, “that the present, unsavory though it sometimes appears, is in reality most precious and delicious? There is perhaps nothing more delightful than the sound of a little child’s laugh, nothing more genuine than a little child’s hug, nothing more pure than a little child’s love and nothing more sacred than a little child’s trust. Motherhood is not a burden to be borne; it is a privilege to be enjoyed. It is not a trial of endurance; it is a time of celebration.”
The difference between the two viewpoints is not the amount of work, or the tasks required, it is in the condition of the heart. The first mothers are counting their trials and Winnie is counting her blessings. The attitude of the mother has a great impact on the training of the hearts of the children.
This is the Nephi vs Laman/Lemuel experience in the wilderness. The Mom chooses to count her blessing IN the experience.
Class member: My Mom always said, “Being a Mom is always an adventure.” Adventures don’t always go right.
My goal is that I hope you go away being thankful you are a Mom. It is the best blessing. It is the greatest gift God can give us in this life.
D&C 59:7 “Thou shalt thank the Lord in all things. (not just the good things)
D&C 59:21 “In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is His wrath kindled, save those who confess not His hand in all things, and obey not His commandment.
When we take things for granted we offend God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
The Roman Orator Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” (Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Plancio, 54 b.c.)
It’s interesting that the Lord had COMMANDED us to thank him in ALL things.
Corey Tenbloom talks about thanking him for the fleas. Having the fleas was what kept the guards from coming in and allowing them to read the Bible they had snuck in.
Pray for the understanding.
Class member: If you took everyone’s problems and put them in a pile you would take yours back.
Joseph Smith said if we would thank the Lord with all our hearts we would find ourselves in heaven.
President Faust ( Ensign, December 1996) said, “A grateful heart is the beginning of greatness. It is the expression of humility and the foundation for the development of:
- < >< >< >< >< >< >Sense of well being
Substituting the word “gratitude” for the word “faith”, James 2:17-18 would read:
“Even so “gratitude,” if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast “gratitude” and I have works: shew me thy “gratitude” without thy works, and I will shew thee my “gratitude” by my works.”
You can say I have gratitude and I will send a thank you note. I can do that without having gratitude. I can do it because it’s socially appropriate things to do. We have to show you my gratitude by my works.
Thanksgiving is made up of 2 words….Thanks….and….giving. Thanks is a noun. Giving is a verb. When we talk about giving thanks. A verb is an action word. The verb ‘to give’. What are you going to do to ‘give’/show thanks?
Example: If you are grateful for food, you might choose to share it with someone by taking in a meal, donating to the food bank, or working for a few hours at a soup kitchen.
Example: If you are grateful for your home, you may decide to try to keep it a little neater.
Example: If you are grateful for your family, you might write each of them a note or have a one-on-one session with each of them to tell them how much you love them and some of the things you think are wonderful about them.
If you want to do something hard that you can go in with each child individually and you kneel down with them and ask if you can be the voice for the prayer. You begin your prayer by telling Heavenly Father how thankful you are to the child. Ask that the Holy Spirit testify to the child and then talk about the things you see in the child and why you are grateful.
Gratitude is a way of living.
You will develop love and gratitude through service.
I went to an education week and listened to a speaker “I finally reached a point in my life where I could give myself to the Lord (that’s consecration).” I thought…I want to be there. I still take my temperature too much. I just hadn’t reached that point yet. How do you do that? How do you overcome the natural man to the point that you can just say use me whenever you want? How do make my heart, my soul and my mind to that’s what I am?
The key to becoming Christlike is the heart you have when you serve. The Savior came to earth with a mission to serve. He came to give his life for us and he knew that. He also came to live his life for us. From the time of his ministry at 30 until he died at 33, every portion of his life was given to someone else. He never said I’m just too tired tonight to heal the cripple. Bring him back in the morning. In America there was 2400 people at the temple. Even 10 seconds per person it would have been 8 hours that he stood there.
He came to serve and not to be served.
When we start having a harder heart it’s because usually we have to serve when we don’t want to. I think if you really want to know the true test of the living spirituality I think this is it. To find where you are on the Service Continuum is where you are.
What is a Continuum? It’s like a time line without beginning or end. This is the condition of your heart. It’s going to continue to grow past this life and keep on growing. It’s not a matter of feeling like you are ‘there’. Where do I go if I choose to step up and ‘go’ somewhere. This doesn’t make me feel guilty it makes me feel hopeful.
In every part of your life you are in a different part of your life….personally, sibling, church calling, spouse, wife, friend, daughter, mother…you are different in every role in your life.
As you get more gratitude your heart changes and grows. You grow spiritually.
I Won’t---This person lives in entitlement. It’s totally self focused. It expects other people to help you. You should be serving me because I have such a heavy burden.
Example: A few years ago I was sitting in a wonderful Relief Society lesson on charity. As the lesson progressed I was impressed with the comments made by “Sister Jones”. Her remarks added to the lesson as she bore her testimony to the principle of charity. After the lesson was over, the Relief Society President stood up and shared an invitation for service. She said there was a non-member woman who lived in the ward boundaries, new to the area and she needed some help. She had just had a baby followed by a brain aneurism that was very serious. The lady was in the hospital, her husband had to work and they needed someone to watch this new baby night and day.
Her neighbor had been talking to her about the church before the baby had been born and they wondered if anyone in the church could help them. They did not know where to turn. The father would come to visit but he could not keep the baby at night and still work and be able to visit with his wife. They did not know how long it would be and they did not know anyone in town. As the President was telling us about this woman, “Sister Jones”, who was sitting in back of me whispered to the lady next to her and said, “I don’t know why we have to tend that baby. That is too much to ask us to stay up all night with a new baby. They need to get one of their neighbors to do it. We don’t even know her.”
I was shocked to hear her after all the vocal testimony she had given. Even though she knew about the principle of charity, when it came down to acting she would not. I was privileged to take that baby into our home for the next four weeks and what a great blessing it was to our family.
I Have To---Laman/Lemuel they did leave, but they murmured the whole time.
I Will/I’ll Try---Can you make it to help with our meeting? I’ll try. I’ll do it, but not with real intent. Yes…I’ll do it. You do it.
I Want To---You are dependable. You want to be a good mother. This is a good level. This is where most of us live.
The key is that there is a HUGE step to the next level. The next level is based on gratitude to the Savior. That is the core. Because of that I want to serve.
May I---The Savior becomes the focus of your life. This level can only be achieved if you do deep study of the Atonement and know the meaning of the Atonement. When we reach that point we will turn our lives over to him.
Class member: Our camp cook said, “This camp food is filled with my love of our Savior and this is why I am here to serve you”
This is where you say…May I serve? May I be your hands below? Most of us will have those experiences from time to time. The goal is to shorten those spaces between then so we can live there. You have to study the Atonement, pray every day, read scriptures every day, attend the temple regularly. As you slip doing those things you will slip back to the “I want to” level.
The goal is to keep moving up. The next time some asks you to take a dinner in note your response.
If I say in my mind say “I will”…make it a verbal in your mind. You are training yourself to hit the next level. If you mope in the “I have to” level you can repent and change directions. Ask for forgiveness and verbally put in your mind to move up.
Class member: A couple years back I was talking to some friends of mine. I said I have to go home and take dinner to someone. I said I guess I do make them a lot. I am asked to do it a lot. At some point it’s going to come around and I will need it. I happened to be making a meal for someone who is not a member. I called our RS president and said I have a hot meal ready who needs it. At that time our relationship was struggling (me and this mother) I held back for a minute, but finally did it. That little act of service was a way for us to mend our bridges. She showed such gratitude to me for something that wasn’t planned at all. When I was pregnant with my baby I was on bed rest for 4 months. For those 4 months I had meals brought in 3 nights a week for dinner and every day for lunch. Because I was willing to serve I could see the blessings coming back to me.
Tracy’s husband was out of work with 6 kids at home. That’s hard. You could say…How come us? We are doing everything. OR with a heart of gratitude every sign up that went around in 9 months she signed up for. She set up and took down for every activity. They took meals in. I asked her once about it. She said, “Mom I’m so grateful to Heavenly Father and I need his blessings so much that I need to serve everyone I can.” She kept a journal of it. Those become sacred moments when we live on “May I…” It wasn’t complaining about what I don’t have.
HOMEWORK: I hope you accept the challenge after the lessons on Work, Gratitude, and Service. I want you to commit to do something hard. It needs to be a bit painful. It can be time or money or whatever, but you give until it’s uncomfortable. Figure out a Christmas project. It can be taking on a family to take in Christmas. If that’s your choice you may have the money in your pocket, but you can’t just give your kids the money to go buy it. You need to set up a fund raising as a family. The purpose is to create a service project that is based on love for the Savior. Gratitude for his offering. That only comes if we do something that is difficult, that we sacrifice even as he sacrificed.
You may decide to adopt a grandma at a nursing home. That will put everyone out of comfort.
You may decide to go serve at the soup kitchen.
Maybe you will go down to the VA.
Maybe you have an assisted living in your ward.
Talk to your family about it. Pray about it. It needs to be a gift of consecration to Him for all that He has given you. If you choose to do it you will have the most profound holiday season that you have ever had.
I testify that these things are true in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.