“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:5-7
I know what you’re thinking. Ah, a Thanksgiving-holiday themed blog. How timely. Pssh! How cliche do you think we are? Thankfulness is a key aspect of healthy dating and marriage that, coincidently, we are focusing on, ahem, the week before Thanksgiving. Eh.
And just in case we missed a chance to play on the holiday coincidences, we made sure to play on the holiday themes in the title.
Back to thanksgiving, or thankfulness, rather.
Remember Mario? For those of you who need a refresher, Mario Diaz, Esq. is Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) Legal Counsel and frequent Washington Times opinion expert on marriage values. And because this idea of gratitude was swirling around our minds, and we are routinely making special thanks this time of year, we wanted to know what role it plays in relationships.
So, single people, be aware:
“Love is an outward expression of your appreciation as much as it is an emotion,” explained Mario. So if love is an outward action, then it follows that we cannot enter into a dating relationship, or marriage, wondering, “What can I get?” “Does he enhance me? or “Does he make me happy?” Me, me, me!
That little nagging voice that constantly reminds you of all the material things you fail to possess needs to be ignored, desperately. Thankfulness expressed combats our natural tendency to be selfish and covet what others have.
Expressed gratitude is vital if we want to prevent the growth of bitterness, which leads to affairs, abuse, and divorce. According to Mario, if bitterness sneaks into our hearts, then we find ourselves questioning, “Did I make a mistake in marriage?” or saying, “It’s too difficult to deal with his/her personality.” Marriage, we know from our past Vicarious blogs, is neither an easy choice, nor a cushy arrangement. It takes predetermined and never-ending dedication.
A sweet story told by Kenda Bartlett, CWA’s Executive Director, perfectly reflects the importance of expressed gratitude. A blonde, blue-eyed California teenager, Kenda moved with her family to a small town in Texas. So small was her town, that the local teenagers’ idea of a good time was riding down Main Street past the one blinking orange traffic light in town again and again. Mhmm, that kind of small town. Nonetheless, it was in this small town’s high school that Kenda met and fell in love with Terry, a kind, hardworking southern gentleman.
Now for the part of the story that brought us to tears. Remember, thankfulness requires selfless action. The two love-struck teenagers separated after high school to attend colleges 100 miles apart from one another. So how did Terry express his thankfulness for Kenda? Terry hitchhiked the 100 miles every weekend to visit Kenda at her university! A tender love story. (It’s okay to cry.)
Selfless thanks takes faith and is a key to pursuing Biblical-based relationships.
One last love story.
Ten men stood a distance from a city’s gate at a distance because they were diagnosed with Hansen’s disease (a.k.a., Leprosy). They called out to Jesus, “Master, have pity on us!” So Jesus answered, “Go show yourselves to the city priest.” As they obeyed Him, they were healed.
We’re sure they were immediately and immensely grateful. But notice the importance implied in Scripture as it discusses the one man who returned to express his thanks to Jesus. That took a selfless act. Consider the context of this passage. All ten men had been living in leper colonies for several years. They were isolated from their families and friends. Instinct would have us run home and hug our mom, dad, and siblings. And this is exactly what nine men did. All ten were healed by Jesus, but only one man made the decision to turn around and express his thankfulness to God. 9-1, just like my fantasy football league. *Kidding.*
When something precious is given to us, we must acknowledge it. Our thankfulness recognizes our complete trust in God’s great love for us and its transformation in our lives. So, wouldn’t it do the same with the person to whom we are married or are considering marrying?
Above all: Our capacity to give thanks has to be practiced. It absolutely does NOT come naturally for human beings. But it is wholly necessary to build a healthy relationship with our boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, and Heavenly Father.