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The Art of Gratitude

We are often more aware of what is going wrong than what is going right in our lives. As human beings, we are more inclined to take note of the negatives than the positive. We remember that one thing that was out of place or proportion in spite of everything else going right. Gratitude is something we have been taught to do as an expression of respect and honor for the people to whom it is due in our lives. As a matter of fact, Ugandan we are very hospitable generally speaking and yet we often miss the real point which is expressing gratitude to each other. We quickly welcome people in our homes and attend to them while we hesitate to acknowledge the very people we call family on the false assumption that they ought to understand and figure out how we feel about them.

Saying thank you is not the same as being thankful or grateful. I have many times thanked a service provider for a lousy service all in the name of being polite. Sometimes the thank you comes as an auto response without much thought of what has been offered to me or done for me. What makes the difference is when we reflect on our gratitude points before we express them. I recently learnt that thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude and what happens when we give thanks in passing without much thought?

In the spirit of thanks giving; I decided to take a stock count of all that had transpired in my life throughout the course of this year. At first all the negative things came flooding to my mind and I felt like just giving up on this reflection exercise. And then I remembered; Psalms 103:1- 5

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

I began to focus on all the good things that God had done in my life and soon I was over flowing with praise and thanksgiving. I was overwhelmed with the goodness of the Lord that I could not help but praise Him. It made me wonder what took me so long to get to this point and I realized that the whole time I was looking in the wrong direction. I was looking for justifiable reasons to bless the Lord when the whole time I had ever reason to do so in His word.

The more I reflected on God’s goodness in my life, the more I began to see this grace overflow into the other aspects of my life. I was able to recognize His working in my family, in my work place and relationships. The spectrum of His grace shed light upon the goodness of the other people in my life and was thankful for each of them and how they had impacted my life. The more I focused on God, the more I was able to appreciate the people that God has brought my way to walk this journey with me.

Gratitude is an art and culture that can be cultivated however we need to be intentional in cultivating it. In the midst of our busy lives and routines, it is so easy to lose sight of the small things that make a huge difference in life. How many of us actually stop to express gratitude for our house helpers, or that boda boda (motocycle taxi) guy that has faithfully picked you up each time you have called this year, the gate man that faithfully opens for you each time you hoot, your child that runs to hug you each time you get home and the list is endless.

Sometimes we feel justified that we pay these people for the services rendered or that they ought to know we care because we provide but gratitude when not expressed is often regarded as ingratitude. I challenge us to be more intentional about expressing gratitude in this season of love and celebration. Christ is the reason for the celebration and as He is so are we in this world.

Noeline Kirabo

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