An Attitude of Gratitude

By Diane Stark

“Nathan did something today that neither one of my kids ever did,” my sister-in-law, Lori, said when I picked up my two-year-old son from her care.

I sighed. “Oh, no, what did he do?”

Lori chuckled. “It’s nothing bad, just the opposite actually. Nathan thanked me for changing his diaper.”

I smiled. “Yes, he does that sometimes.”

“He has an attitude of gratitude, even about something as small as a diaper change,” Lori said. “That doesn’t just happen, Diane. He’s following your example.”

I shrugged. “I wouldn’t say that.”

Lori shrugged back at me. “It’s true.”

 

For weeks afterward, Lori’s words stayed with me. My sister-in-law perceived me as a grateful person. But only I knew the truth.

The truth was that for over a year, I had hoped and prayed for a new home for our family. I wished for a new home when my children complained about the lack of space in our current home and when the baby, who was sharing a bedroom with my husband and me, kept me awake at night. There were seven of us, shoehorned into a three-bedroom house, and our circumstances reminded me constantly that a new house was not a want, but a need.

But something unusual also triggered my wishes and prayers for a new home. A billboard on a highway I traveled frequently.

The billboard was an advertisement for a local home builder. On the sign was a beautiful brick house with a surprisingly low price tag attached to it. I wanted the home for my family as badly as I’d ever wanted anything in my life.

 

Each time I drove by the billboard, I would stare longingly at the home on the sign. I’d hope and pray for it. I’d talk to the kids about how great it would be when we were finally in the new house.

Eventually, our financing was approved and construction on our new home began. To say I was thrilled was a huge understatement.

The day we moved into our new home, I drove by that same house billboard and was completely overcome with gratitude. I loved our new house, and I loved seeing my children so happy with their new rooms. I was thrilled to put the baby’s crib in his own room, rather than in the master bedroom with my husband and me. I was excited for the kids to invite their friends over to play, knowing we had enough space in the house for a few extra people. Life in the new house was going to be better in every way. I thanked God for answering our prayers and taking such good care of our family.

I’d never felt so blessed.

 

But I’d also driven by the house billboard on the way to Lori’s house on the afternoon she’d called me a grateful person. I’d driven right by it. And I hadn’t murmured a word of thanks.

The sad fact was that as I’d driven by the billboard that day, I’d been on the phone, complaining about how far behind I was in my household chores. Yes, I was griping about having to clean the very house I’d hoped and prayed for.

I’d wanted this new home so badly. I’d prayed for it for over a year. Yet, just a few weeks after I’d gotten my wish, I had already forgotten to be thankful.

Not exactly the attitude of gratitude I was hoping to cultivate in my young son.

So I began looking for things, big and small, for which to be grateful. I even started writing them down. Just like the billboard had reminded me to pray for a new home, this gratitude list reminded me to be thankful, not just for the new house, but for all the blessings in my life.

I put all kinds of things on my list. Big things like our new house, the health of my family, and God’s amazing love for all of us.

And little things like hearing my favorite song on the radio, a day without any children bickering and clean diapers.

Yes, I was thankful for clean diapers.

I guess Nathan’s attitude of gratitude had rubbed off on me after all.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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2 Responses to “An Attitude of Gratitude”

  1. I loved the article – so simple and yet profound. So often we have hopes that are deferred for awhile that often make us heart sick. When those hopes and dreams are finally fulfilled, we often do forget to be truly grafeful for our blessings. Thank you for such a beautiful reminder.

  2. Thanks, Diane, for helping us see how easy it is to forget to say “thanks,” but how simple it is to develop an attitude of gratitude!

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