There are many times that we feel like we are underappreciated, Christmas is one of the biggest times for everyone. We work so hard for so many weeks preparing, and then it’s over in the blink of an eye. Did anyone even notice how hard we worked to pull it together?
When I was in high school I bought my dad a plaid button down shirt for Christmas. I remember picking it out at the Tanger outlets on I-16 because we were coming back from a football game in Atlanta. I was so excited because I didn’t ask my mom’s opinion…just made the decision on my own. On Christmas morning, he was opening his gifts from me and got to the box with the shirt in it. He opens it and gets this blank look on his face. I was thinking, “Oh crap, he hates it.” Dad looked at me with this really big grin and said “thanks.” So, maybe he did like it then. In late January, I was going through my mom’s closet looking for some shoes to borrow, and I found the Christmas box with the shirt still wrapped in the tissue paper. I took the box out and walked to down to the shop with it. I asked him, “Did you not like this shirt?” He tells me he did. “So, why is it still in the box in your closet?” I asked. He says, “Okay, I just didn’t want to hurt your feelings. I don’t really like it. But, thank you for giving it to me.” Okay, so lesson learned— no plaid shirts for Dad. When I bought it, I just assumed he would open it and move on to the next gift. Daddy never gets too excited about gifts, so I guess I should’ve realized he hated it when he was so animated about it. He really hated it, but he still thanked me for it.
Being raised in the South, it’s beat in our brains from childhood to say “thank you”. Be polite and always show your appreciation. Even when you really have to bite your tongue because another word is forming…you always say thank you. It seems so natural, but I’ve learned that it’s not. It’s not always easy for people to express their gratitude. You may think you have gone out of your way for something, but it doesn’t mean that anyone really appreciates it. Or, if they do appreciate it…they may just not wish to express it. It does not mean that your effort was not worthwhile. You know it was worth it, and Your Lord knows it was worth it. Do not be selfish because no one thanked you. You didn’t offer your help for selfish reasons, so why should you be put out because you assume no one appreciates your effort? Did you remember to thank God for giving you the motivation you needed to offer your help? Chances are no…not because you didn’t appreciate it, more likely because you know He’s always there and He already knows you appreciate Him, right? When I don’t feel appreciated, I always go back to the story of the ten lepers:
As Jesus passed through a certain village, ten lepers waited to meet Him. They had heard He might come that way and hoped that He might heal them. Because they were lepers, they were not allowed to stand near the road. From a distance they called out.
“Jesus! Teacher! Have mercy on us!”They wore hoods over their heads and scarves across their faces. This was so no one would have to look at the awful sores which made them lepers. They begged Jesus to heal them.
Jesus pointed back to the town.
“Go and show yourselves to the priests.” This was another way of telling the lepers they were healed! Only people who had been healed were supposed to go to the priests.
The men did as Jesus told them. As they walked toward the temple to see the priests, they felt a strange thing happening. Blood tingled through their arms and legs and strange warmth went up and down their backs. One man pulled his sleeve up and saw the skin growing back healthy.
He shouted. “Praise God! Praise the Lord God Almighty! I’ve been healed! I’m all better!”
Then he turned around. As fast as he could, he ran straight back to where Jesus was preaching. He fell at Jesus’ feet and grabbed hold of them.
“Thank You, oh thank You!” He said.
Jesus looked at the man who was singing out his thanks to God.
He said. “But weren’t there ten who were healed, where are the other nine?”Then Jesus told him. “You can go now, your faith has saved you and made you better.”
Why did only one man return? It could be that the other nine did not come back and say thank you for the same reasons people do not thank each other or God today. (1)Perhaps one leper simply forgot to say thank you and (2)another may have been too shy. (3)Maybe one was too proud. (4)Perhaps another leper was excited about being healed or lost his way and could not find Jesus again. It could be (5)one was too busy, there was lot of living to catch up on. (6)One leper may not have come back to say thank you because the priest told him he did not have to. This man always did what others told him, without thinking for himself. (7)The seventh leper may not have said thank you because he did not understand what had happened to him. (8)The eighth leper may not have gone back to see Jesus because he simply saw no reason to do so. He had never said thank you to anyone for anything. Perhaps (9) the last leper wandered away so happy, he hardly noticed where he was going. Only one leper of the ten saw how Jesus heals the whole person. As happens so often, the others took the gift God gave them for granted. God often gives us what we need. How often do we thank Him? How often do we thank each other? How often do we thank ourselves? God gave you the tools you needed to complete a task… did you accept them and follow through? If you did, and no one thanked you, did you remember to thank yourself? Thank God first, then appreciate yourself for accepting His blessings…then thank the person who presented you the opportunity in the first place. Don’t weigh yourself down wondering why no one appreciated it. God appreciates all of our efforts. God appreciates you. And, even though I have to constantly remind myself, He appreciates me, too. Your thanks may come days, weeks, or even months later…it may never come…but, don’t let that affect you. Keep being who you are and helping each other where you can. Remember to thank each other, no matter how small the task…and, remember to thank God.
Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”