Weekly Thought – October 18, 2022
Fred and Mary Alice were married for 67 years. On this day 107 years ago she was born in Tennessee. Raised in severe poverty, she always had a dream for a life of meaning centered around her family and faith. She and Fred met in 7th grade English class at Hume Fogg High School in Nashville. They didn’t start dating until after high school when he would wander over to the S. H. Kress store and buy candy from her, the candy counter clerk. By age 21 they married and built a life of dreams and experiences beyond their dreams. They were both always grateful and modeled this for their children.
On one of my early morning workouts (meaning going out to a local shop for a donut to prepare for Mary Alice’s breakfast at home) I watched a young well-dressed man walk in, sit down next to two truckers, and pull out of gold pen. To their total disinterest, he began a conversation,” How much is this pen worth?” The first trucker said, “Okay, what is it worth? Is it gold?” “Yes, solid gold.” The trucker shrugged, “I still don’t know what it is worth. Why?” “Well, yesterday I signed away everything I owned in this world with the pen. Now I am without anything.” He became frantic and said, “I know what I’ve got to do and I’ve got the courage to do it.” With that he ran out the door.
I went home, sat in my study, and thought about what I would say had I been able. The first thing would be: “List your assets.” He was alive, healthy, free, had business experience. All in the world he didn’t have was money. As I thought about it I realized that what really happens whenever we have a loss is a shadow or cloud is pulled over all our assets and we are unable to see them – the loss is all we can see.
This young man had lost his money and suddenly was unable to see anything else – and was ready to kill himself. He had not developed the discipline of gratitude.
When people come by my office wanting to talk about their problems I try to very early in the conversation get them to list their assets. When I say assets they invariably start to list their financials. They usually fail to consider the spiritual blessings. For example, a man walked in and I said, “What are your assets?” “Well, I have a bank account. There’s not much left in it. I’ve got some equity in my house.” I stopped him and said, “Let’s go deeper. Are you alive?” Of course, he said, “Well, yes.” “You look that way to me and some people consider that high on the asset list, particularly if they are hospitalized, on chemo, or facing their last days in a hospice.” I continued, “You’re healthy? You have a loving wife? Do you have business experience?” After a few, “yeah, I guess so” responses. I knew we were making some progress.
“Now, let’s list your minor assets. These are the ones that can be measured quantitatively.”
If I can break through and get them to feel gratitude, I’ve a real foundation on which to work against their problems. However, if they keep on saying, “Yes, but…” I know we are still stuck. I keep referring them back to their list of assets until I see them get past the loss and beyond the “yes, but.”
When they’re still saying “yes, but,” they are not really grateful. They are wanting something more. Gratitude is being grateful for what you have, not for what you hope to get.
This week think about: 1) How would I start a list of assets? 2) What problems are blocking my ability to be grateful right now? 3) When does “yes, but” stop me from making progress?
Words of Wisdom: “What happens whenever we have a loss is a shadow or cloud is pulled over all our assets and we are unable to see them – the loss is all we can see.”
Wisdom from the Word: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15 NET Bible)