A Google images search of nearly any word or phrase will give you a wide variety of visual representations of what the word or phrase describes. Thankful, will not.
The quick-tech flashy world we live in has a million references for almost everything. A definition, an icon, logo, meme, gif, and different pictures for anything you can imagine can be referenced in an instant. You can type any variety of common words or phrases and get hundreds of different images to represent it. Thankful, a very common word only seems to have one. There are different angles and different people in them, but they are all essentially the same, a person standing alone in a natural setting with their arms raised as to heaven. Quotes and poems overlay some of them, all trying to express thanks or encapsulate what it means to be thankful. But why is this the image that represents it?
From our first steps to graduating from school, a job, promotion, even the number of friends we have, we measure ourselves and others by accomplishment. We’re taught our entire lives that being loved and celebrated requires something of us. We get help along the way, opportunities granted, mistakes forgiven, shortcomings accommodated. But still, we are expected to perform at some level to be accepted.
Few things in this world are just given to us, even fewer that we really don’t think we deserve on some level or have any sort of strings attached. So when it happens, it brings the best of our emotions together, and brings out the best in us. Welling up with emotions words cannot express compells us to voice our praise and reach up, reach out, try to make the giver and the gift tangible, and make them aware of our gratitude. There is a noticeable difference between someone who is grateful for what they’ve been given and those who don’t. Maybe not at first, the gushing and embracing may look the same on the surface, but true gratitude changes us. A gift we know we didn’t earn makes us step up. Not to achieve anything, we already have it. We step up to honor the gift and the giver.
Christ was crucified and defeated death for us. He gives us life and peace. We don’t deserve either, we can’t earn either. The greatest gift, the eternal gift. All we can do is accept or not accept. We can’t pay it back. There is nothing we can do to make it “square”. Being eternally grateful, in awe of God’s grace is our only possible response if we accept the way, the truth and the life that is Jesus Christ. Acceptance of this gift truly transforms us, thankfulness starts replacing pride, greed and power as the thing that drives our positive emotions until we no longer pat ourselves on the back, but reach up to heaven, overflowing with love, joy and trust.