As much as the world wants to skip over Thanksgiving, I’m going to ask you to hang in there with me, while we maximize the opportunity to focus on, and explore the virtue of gratitude. Let’s continue our discussion today by exploring the two levels of gratitude.
The first level of gratitude is demonstrative gratitude. It is when we are thankful for people, our possessions and circumstances; for what we have, and where we are in our life. We’re grateful for having a home, where we live, and having a job. We are thankful for a car that runs, our husband and children, our family, good friends, enough food to eat, the weather, the school our kids go to, and living in a free country. Just to name a few. The list could go on and on. What else are you grateful for?
Sometimes when life is heavy and we are feeling sorry for ourselves, demonstrative gratitude is what helps us turn things around. We try to get the positive thoughts flowing by intentionally identifying the good things and circumstances in our life. The best way to get out of a slump or a rut is to start counting our blessings.
Even though counting our blessings can give us a boost when we’re stuck or feeling down, this kind of gratitude is only temporary. Level one gratitude is fragile, because it depends on people, things and circumstances; and as we know, these are all unpredictable.
To maintain a consistent attitude of thankfulness, gratitude has to go deeper. It has to penetrate the core of our being. It must become part of the essence of who we are. This is level two gratitude. This is gratitude embodied.
Remember the gospel passage that tells us about when Christ healed the ten lepers?
Go ahead, take a minute to read it, Luke 17:11-19
- How many did he heal?…..Ten
- How many came back to thank Christ?…..One
- The one that came back to thank Christ was the Samaritan.
- What happened to the nine Jewish lepers?
- Why didn’t they turn back to thank Christ?
The Jewish people had been the chosen people for many, many years. They had grown up hearing the stories of how they were set apart and how they were the special recipients of God’s love. As Jews, they grew up in this confidence, and embraced this understanding of God’s loving care for them.
They had grown accustomed God’s personal care for them. It seemed, at times, that they had even come to expect it. Perhaps, these Jewish lepers had grown accustomed to God’s favor, and took being healed for granted?
The Samaritan on the other hand had not grown up in the Jewish faith. He had not had the benefit of being identified as one of God’s chosen people. He didn’t grow up hearing the stories of the wonderful miracles and personal care of God the Father. Even though he asked to be healed, I wonder if he truly expected it?
He didn’t understand the possibilities of a loving God. Of being “chosen”. He hadn’t grown to expect anything. And then it happened! As he followed the others, who were obediently going to show themselves to the priests, he was healed!
He was healed! Not just a little healed, but completely healed! He was made whole. How could this be? Why would this Jesus, this Jew, care enough to heal him?….a Samaritan?
This foreigner, had experienced the personal care of his creator. The profound experience did more than just heal him physically. It penetrated the core of his being. It transformed him. At that moment, he became gratitude. He embodied it. He “praised God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks”.
This is a perfect example of the second level of gratitude. It’s when words are not enough to express what is inside us. It’s when all we can do is throw ourselves at the feet of our creator, realizing that everything, EVERYTHING, comes from Him.
Embodied gratitude is when we realize that absolutely everything is from our creator. From every breath we draw, to the limitations we struggle with. From the people who love you, to the people who treat you unfairly. Everything is His gift to us. Our ideas, our personality, and our talents, our quirks and weakness, everything, even the time of history we are in, all are blessings from the one who called us into being.
Embodied gratitude is a way of life that doesn’t need nice people, things, or favorable circumstances to be okay. This level of gratitude says, “Wow! How wonderful it is to simply exist!” This type of gratitude comes from a genuine appreciation and simple fascination with life itself. It embraces the journey, the process of life, the daily grind. Level two gratitude welcomes the good and the bad.
The first level of gratitude is conditional. It’s based on our circumstances, stuff, and people. The first level of gratitude is fragile because these things change.
The second level of gratitude is permanent, because it is WHO we are. It doesn’t depend on people, things, or circumstances.
We go from “doing” gratitude in level one….. to “being” grateful in level two.
- Level 1 gratitude says; “I am grateful for”……
- level 2 gratitude says; “I AM…grateful”
Where are you? Level one, or Level two? Maybe you are somewhere in between? No matter where you are, the best way to live in level two gratitude, is to be intentional about it.
As a first step to being intentional about level two gratitude, consider printing off this mini-series on gratitude. The posts included in the series are, Interrupt Stress With Gratitude, How to Cultivate Gratitude, How to Kill Gratitude , and today’s post, “The Two Levels of Gratitude”. Reviewing these posts can offer a great first step in your effort to grow in gratitude.