Letters to my sons

A collection of thoughts and lessons I've learned along the way for my little men, and anyone else that's interested.

Posts tagged with #Thankfulness

My sons,

I read a statement today that was simple yet profound. It got me thinking about my upbringing, my context, my biases, and my perspective. I was raised very fortunate, very lucky. I was raised in a loving home with parents who did absolutely everything in their power to give me and your uncle everything we wanted. We were treated with dignity and respect, and were taught to honor others and to treat others well. We were raised believing we could do whatever we set our minds to, that we could be instruments of change, that we could be leaders of the future.

Not everyone is raised this way.

I now realize how lucky I was, how precious it is to have that be my story. The statement I read today inspired me to redouble my efforts. It said simply:

“When you honor what you have, you’re honoring what I’ve lost.”

We are currently in a time where many have lost. Loved ones, homes, jobs, families, safety, security - all of these are among the things that have been stripped incredibly unfairly from such a large number of people. So many homeless, without safety, without security, without the knowledge of where their next meal will come, or if it will come at all.

To be fair, there are many that are rising to the occasion. The heroes of today don’t don spandex and nylon capes, no. They put on their nurse’s scrubs, their surgeon’s gloves, their firefighter suits, their signs of protest and defense. God bless those heroes.

But beyond supporting them, beyond giving our resources and time to listen, to learn, to stand up for, and to protect, we can do more still. We can live each day honoring the things that we have, so that we honor those who have not. We can live each day taking every opportunity that fortune blesses us with, and do so remembering those who are less fortunate.

We are fortunate to live in America, to live in a nation founded on the belief that all people were created equal, to live free of oppression and free to pursue happiness and association however we desire. Many are not that lucky. Many living even in this nation are not that lucky.

Something we’ve done since you were young is to share things that we’re thankful for at the end of each day. I pray that this letter finds you still with that spirit of thankfulness, of gratitude, of humility. You are both blessed beyond measure; don’t take that for granted. Honor those who have less than you do.

My sons,

It’s been said that the virtue that leads to all other virtues is gratitude. I love that sentiment, whether it’s true or not. I’m sure that by now, you both know people that are generally very happy and content with life, as well as people that can’t be satisfied and are upset with everything under the sun.

No one looks at a complaining person and a happy person and actively decides that they want to be more like the complainer. That’s just the truth of it. None of us grow up wanting to be whiny, complaining, discontent people. “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” - these are the very principles that our great nation is founded upon. We all want to pursue happiness, and want to have it in abundance.

Gratefulness plays a huge role in that.

If you look a little closer, I’m willing to bet that a common thread among those that are happy is that they’re also very grateful people. A couple of reasons for that.

Gratefulness causes you to think outside yourself.

A heart of gratitude causes you to be regularly thinking about the things that you’re thankful for, and keeps your mind off of yourself and on others. It keeps you being thoughtful about the external; about how others are feeling, about their actions and intentions.

By thinking about others, the altitude of your view gets higher. You get used to thinking about spheres outside your own. Your world becomes bigger.

Gratefulness causes you reflect on the beauty in your life.

When we stop to acknowledge the good that others have done in our lives, we stop moving, if only for a moment. This world that we’re living in is incredibly fast paced and is constantly trying to drown out any silence that gives you room to reflect. But taking the time to reflect on the many things we have to be thankful for, the many things that are beautiful, rich, and wonderful about our lives regularly; that truly is a great thing.

Gratefulness gives you the space to make mistakes.

When you approach your life with a heart of gratitude, it creates the space for the imperfections of humanity to breathe, to air out, to be released. So often we’re concerned about looking perfect, sounding perfect, appearing like we’ve got perfect lives on social media. We don’t give ourselves the space for the truth that is humanity - we’re not perfect. We’re not idyllic. We have flaws.

Gratefulness allows us to recognize that others can contribute to our lives, and in so doing allow us the space to recognize that we need others and aren’t perfect.

And so my prayer for you is that you will live lives that have an abundance of things to be grateful for, that are characterized by happiness, joy, and thankfulness. Hopefully when you read this, we’ve continued our nightly traditions of sharing three things that we’re thankful for each day. I started that with you several years ago in an attempt to set a regular pattern in all our lives of being grateful, and I pray that we’re still continuing with that tradition to this day. I love you boys.



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