He sat in the back as our car sped down the street on the way to school that morning. His backpack in one hand, lunch in the other, and his eyes surveying his surroundings. My son sat in the very seat where residual from last month’s melted crayon episode could still be felt. Soda stains from two years back could still be seen, and the crumbs (quite possibly left over from the used minivan’s previous owner), lay scattered on the floorboard of our vehicle. This car—this used minivan of ours—is most definitely broken in and on its way to breaking down. So as my boy looked around at the mess before him that morning, slightly embarrassed, he asked:
“Can Dad take me to school today instead? I want to go in his car.”
Dad’s big work truck is a vehicle with all the bells and whistles, the latest and greatest in technology, an air conditioner that properly works, and clean inner cabin.
I get it.
What I Don’t Want for My Son
Like me, my son desires the very best this life has to offer. He’s drawn to the shiny objects, the ones that look (and feel) nice. He’s excited when it comes to new toys…new anything, really. But you know what? This isn’t what I want for my boy. I don’t want him growing up with a desire for the finer things in life (yes, you heard me right), because in all honesty, they serve as a distraction…from God, from those in need, from service to others, and from the appreciation (I hope) he’ll possess for all he’s been blessed with. Already, he is a child with so much…one who has yet to truly realize it; the food in a full cupboard, the toys in his room, the clothes in his closet. And yes, even the not-so-snazzy minivan he rides in.
It Starts With Me
However, this attitude of gratitude? It starts with me. See, I need this lesson too. I need to appreciate my blessings.
I need to humble myself before the Lord and offer him praise–in the middle of my mess, in the middle of the dirty floors that I can’t bring myself to clean, in the midst of the dirty dishes that continually mount, in the meals that must be prepared…and in the minivan that still reeks from last week’s milk mishap. In every aspect of the seemingly mundane, I must be thankful. I’ve got to model this behavior for my children, lead by example and show them, I’m thankful for it all.
Thankful Even When We Don’t Feel Like It
How do we give praise for broken down cars, unrelenting laundry, and urine on the toilet seat (yah, I went there). How do we give thanks for the things that don’t always feel like blessings? And how do we teach our children to do the same?
- Bow low. That’s right, we must humble ourselves. We must look at our surroundings and place a filter over our eyes. Rather than see all the negative, all that’s bad, or what bugs us, we have to change our way of thinking…our perception.
- It’s easy to be grateful when everything is going right, Amen? It’s in those hard times where our attempts at gratitude feel forced. And hard. But that’s the Enemy working overtime, friend. Resist his attempts, by finding the good in every day, and in every situation. Hard as that might be.
- Remember Who’s Watching: We are modeling the behavior our children see. And they see it all. They watch us grow frustrated, they hear our grumbling, they feel that angst when times are rough. Let’s work on this. Let’s exhibit that gratitude each one of us is capable of expressing…and passing on.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
In order for our kids to truly appreciate their blessings, in order for them to understand all that they have, they must see it from us, first.
Jenny Lee Sulpizio is a Christian wife, mother to three, and author of the recently released, “For the Love of God: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Faith and Getting Grace,” along with “Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe: On a Mission to Save Sanity, One Mom at a Time.”
Through her personal website, blog, and as a contributing writer for numerous mommy sites, there’s always plenty of information to relate to, encouragement to absorb, and a whole lot of comic relief to go around. Connect with Jenny by visiting www.jennyleesulpizio.com.