I received a thank you recently from a friend. It was an email, probably no more than four to five sentences. I was struck that something so brief could have such an impact. This person shared something I had done that I had forgotten. When I read the note, I realized that not only did my action matter to my friend, but I did as well.
Few people demand to have their existence validated, but the smile that came to my face reminded me how nice it is when someone takes time to express their appreciation and let you know that they notice the things you do.
Since Sunday, October 16, I have written a thank you card daily to express my gratitude to people who have been a blessing in my life as a part of Floris UMC’s “Gratitude Adjustment” sermon series’ 21-day gratitude challenge. I have been left with two strong impressions.
First, for every card I write, I can think of several more that could be written. I have a lifetime of thank you notes to write given how often God uses people to bless my life in some way. Family, friends, neighbors and, sometimes, total strangers are so often thoughtful and kind that it is rather remarkable.
Second, as I compose each note, I re-experience the kindness that someone showed me. Choosing the words to write often leads to a deeper realization of the time someone spent, the expertise they offered or the care they demonstrated.
While the cards have helped me think about how I might bless others, my real hope is that the recipients will enjoy the affirmation of their words and actions. So often people do acts of kindness instinctively. They do not consider it a burden or a hassle and are surprised when their effort is acknowledged.
On Sunday, October 30, I hope you will join me in writing a different card of thanks. Every year I ask those who call Floris UMC their church home to fill out an Estimate of Giving Card to indicate what their financial giving will be in the coming year. I ask you to do this for a couple of reasons.
It enables you to have a conversation with yourself or with your spouse about the level of generosity you hope to pursue in the coming year. Studies indicate that without a goal, most people give very little of their income, less then 2 percent, to any charitable purpose.
The card also helps your church understand what level of financial support it will enjoy in the coming year. Being good stewards of your tithes and offerings requires a great deal of advanced planning. Your Estimate of Giving Card gives your church information that is very helpful in that process.
Most importantly, however, I hope that your Estimate of Giving Card will be a way to express your appreciation to God for the gifts you enjoy in life. Our “Gratitude Adjustment” series at Floris UMC has made me keenly aware of how many ways Jesus has shown me grace and love.
I am conscious of the forgiveness I enjoy and the purpose he has placed in my life. I am grateful for our church and the ways it is working to bless people in the community and world, even as it cares for those who call it their spiritual home.
I see God working in people around me each day, through their gifts and the time they devote to others. When my wife, Karen, and I agree to the figure we plan to give the church in the coming year, it is another way we say “thanks” to God. It is a way we tell God that we notice grace.