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Grand Rapids, MI

Really Thankful?

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Really Thankful?

Tom Elenbaas

I had an interesting thing happen this week during what some have dubbed the Snowpocalypse that this winter has been. I've loved the snow, honestly. I think it's beautiful, powerful, and amazing to watch. I only wish it wasn't so cold, so the kids could play.

Smitten by the Mitten?

Smitten by the Mitten?

It was Tuesday evening. Our road hadn't been plowed through, except for one pass on Saturday night - which was possibly by someone from our neighborhood and not the road commission. So, when I was about to jump in my car to head back to work for some evening meetings, the road commission truck was coming around our cul-de-sac in front of my house. He got stuck right in front of my house, and backed up to get out and take a second shot. So, I waved my arms at him to try to quickly talk to him.

You see, my neighborhood hadn't been plowed. I'm part of the Association, and we have an association facebook page. A lot of people had been posting about when we were going to get out, that we should all contact the Road Commission, and other various ideas about getting to work. There was obviously a lot of frustration, and maybe even some anger. So I flagged him down... and I'm sure he thought I was going to chew him out.  Instead, I said,

Hey, I know it's been a rough week and you guys have been busy and working hard. Just wanted to say thanks for all your hard work. We appreciate you. 

When people complain on Facebook or to one another they often have legitimate concerns and often mean well, but sometimes when you're doing your job the best you can, you still can't please everyone. You can't always meet the needs you might want to. I've been in that place myself, where I work hard, do my best, and it still isn't enough. So I said thank you. In fact, as I drove out I had Siri post a message on Facebook thanking the Road Commission for plowing us out. As I drove out, the plow was making his second run around our cul-de-sac.

I was feeling good. I was thankful, expressed my gratitude, and hopefully helped a hard-working guy smile for a moment.

About 15 minutes later, my wife called. 

Were you talking to the gentleman in the plow about our mailbox?

What about our mailbox?

Well, the plow backed into our mailbox and broke the post.

This was the test. Was I really thankful for the plow guy who came through? Was I really thankful for all the hard work he was putting in, getting up at 2:30am to plow the dangerous roads? Did I really give thanks for how he was helping us get to work? And could I be thankful for our neighborhood - even if it created an inconvenience for me?

I am thankful. For a moment, my humanity almost got the best of me, but I am truly thankful for the hard-working men and women that brave the roads during dangerous hours to help you and I get to work. I'm also realizing that thanksgiving doesn't come only when things go right. Being thankful is a posture of the heart, not a condition of circumstance. To be truthful, my humanity does get the best of me more times than not. I can be critical. I can get frustrated. I can get selfish when things don't go my way. I don't say, "Thank you" enough and really mean it. 

This past week I taught a class on the Spiritual Practices, and one thing I really need to work on is my own posture of thanksgiving despite the circumstances that come. 


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