“When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time.
Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”
I experience gratitude most often because something extraordinary happens. For example, when I narrowly escape an automobile accident. Or perhaps when I receive a surprise check or when a friend offers unexpected encouragement. I am filled with sense of well-being, I smile and move on.
But there is a deeper experience of gratitude.
The first type occurs when you are surprised by an unexpected good. The second, deeper gratitude occurs when you are startled awake by the sheer improbability of the ordinary good. It is the surprise insight that the crook of your mother’s arm, the bend in the road leading to your house, or the hum of the kettle are realties that did not have to be. And yet there they are. The second gratitude is the sudden seeing of things as they really are – gifts from God.
Just yesterday, I had this blessed experience of suddenly seeing things as they are. I was strolling down a sidewalk. I turned a corner, glanced down upon my footsteps and was hit with the very pleasant realization that my stockings were not filled with Christmas candy. They were filled, through no effort of my own, with something both superior and more practical. My stockings were filled with legs!
My next steps were different, buoyed as they were by the second deeper gratitude. It was like walking for the first time. Or perhaps a better metaphor, I felt like a child who, given a set of stilts, was trying them out in play. I took one exciting step, then two quick steps in succession to regain balance. I giggled at my pleasure. Approaching me on the sidewalk you might have thought me drunk. And you would be right – for a blessed moment I was intoxicated with the ordinary benevolence of things.
I tried a step or two backwards (just for fun) and then attempted a straight line, followed with two S-curves and a swing around the lamp post. Walking, when you are gifted with legs, becomes play. Running is adventure. Skipping downstairs is sheer madness. I was tall. I was blessed.
Then, for some sad, sad reason, the second, deeper gratitude dissipates. Perhaps I noticed people staring or perhaps I become self-conscious in a window reflection. But the second deeper gratitude disappeared and I sank into the grey dullness of believing that ordinary things are unremarkable. I sank into the fog of taking for granted everything that is so inexplicably granted. My magical legs effectively disappear. And I become once again a short, plodding soul.
Oh, to see things for what they really are – gifts.
Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. In addition to counseling individuals and couples, Roger teaches and leads discussion groups about applying the Bible to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor, holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is married to Jean and they have seven children.
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