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Taking Thanks - Giving thanks intensifies deepens our appreciation.

How meaningful for us that the English language contains a word for thanksgiving, but not one for the opposite, taking thanks. People thank us for things that we say and do. We receive thanks, we do not take thanks. The difference is not just in the words that are available for our use, but in the meaning of gratitude. We are recipients of gifts, not of payments that are due to us. We can be ungrateful, not giving thanks. But we cannot take thanks, no matter how intensely we might want or believe ourselves deserving of others’ expressions of gratitude.  

The contrast between giving and receiving is not at all the same as the difference between giving and taking. When we give thanks and when we receive thanks the exchange that takes place is an intentional and relational gift of the heart. Taking, no matter how legitimate, is usually done for one’s self, and does not necessarily include the qualities of an interpersonal relationship.   

Thanksgiving, in all the variety of ways we go about the celebration of the National Holiday and all of our many other expressions of gratitude, is like good clean water that makes healthy life possible for us. We grow thirsty any time we fail to take in enough water and become weak and even open to illness if we lack sufficient hydration. Giving thanks is a heart-healthy process that meets a basic thirst in all of us. As givers, we create of our own good will, essential life-enabling water of the spirit for others. In the act of thanksgiving we not only do not lose some of what we had, but we gain even more capacity and facility in expressing gratitude. As we receive various indications of thanks, we become less susceptible to the debilitating effects of isolation from human interchange.

Saying “thanks” is a very small gift, yet each time we say the words with even the least bit of caring intent, we have made a healthy contribution to the community of persons among whom we live. How different such spiritual goods are from words, gestures and body-language that convey criticism and indifference. In the exercise of gratitude, we each give from within us one of the most helpful remedies for many of the sicknesses that afflict the human heart.

Since not all that is good in the world in general and in our lives in particular come to us from what others say and do, we always have the option of directing thanks to the Creator for all the good gifts we continually receive. We find much satisfaction in thanking God for the delight we sometimes take in life itself, for the only one besides us who knows fully our internal experience is God. Giving thanks intensifies and deepens our appreciation for much that, taken only for granted, would give us very little joy.

Thanks is for giving and receiving, not taking.


Last Updated 11/18/17