Thanksgiving is a time for us to call to mind and be thankful for all the ways we are blessed. As I considered my blessings recently, I began to reflect on a trip I took to Guatemala a few years ago with a small organization called Outreach for World Hope (OWH). This organization has a mission to the poor in Guatemala. It rescues children in the southwest of the country who are on the verge of starvation and provides them with food and clothing until they are capable of self-sufficiency. Additionally, OWH works with people living in the mountains to improve their conditions in various ways such as water filtration, medical assistance, and clothing.
A New Perspective on Gratitude
Looking back, I was amazed at how happy the people living in poverty were. While conditions were dire, the people had a spirit of joy and peace. During the trip, we worked with farmers to plant avocado trees to round out their diet of mostly corn. We also spent a day handing out clothing, shoes, and toys at a community center to villagers waiting for medical assistance from the physicians who were with us. The sense of gratitude and thanksgiving I experienced from those people was incredible.
I now see gratitude in a different light. In the past, I connected it to things like good health, a secure lifestyle, a good education, good food and clothing, and all the amenities of upper-middle-class America. In contrast, here were people that had none of that, but they exuded a tremendous sense of gratitude.
What is the difference?
As I considered this more, I was reminded of the beatitudes given to us by Jesus. Jesus connects happiness with humility, mourning over wrongdoing, being gentle, desiring justice, being merciful, having a pure heart, and working for peace. These are all elements of relationships that result in a joy and happiness which our possessions, accomplishments, and status can’t provide. Those things often mask an underlying dissatisfaction or unhappiness in our lives. Our ultimate blessing and source of Thanksgiving comes from knowing we are loved and blessed by God. We were made in his image and likeness and he wants us to experience the joy of his love and the love of those around us. When we come to grasp this, and in turn bless others with the kind of love outlined in the beatitudes, that is when we begin to really experience joy akin to the people I met in Guatemala.
One of our four core values in the Healy Spirit is “Love Wins”. When we let this happen, we are more capable of seeing the true blessings in our lives that come through the daily encounters we have with each other. Those encounters with others are encounters with people imbued with the spirit of God. Seeing God in others awakens us to greater possibilities of love, which in turn leads to greater gratitude and joy. We all experience that joy when we extend ourselves in love to those around us.
This Thanksgiving, let’s see God alive in everyone we encounter. And let’s be awake to the presence of God within us so that we are not only blessed by others, but so we are a blessing to them. Love really does win!
About the Author:
Rich, the President and an Owner of Healy Group, has been a financial advisor for over 36 years. His overarching goal in his work with his clients is to help them connect their money to their values. He believes that his work with his clients isn’t just about rates of return, asset allocation, and maximizing wealth; it is about helping them create a better life for those they love and creating a better world.