[ 9 ] Comments

by Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

For a little over a year I have been on a personal journey. I’ve realized this is the only real goal I want to carry forward in my life. Not because I don’t want to accomplish other things or better myself but because this one thing has the power and capacity to be the catalyst for everything else. I have already seen it beginning to change me. It feels good!

And I want more.

Giving thanks, thanksgiving, eucharisteo.

Eucharisteo has power when we fully live it. It is a Greek word meaning thanksgiving. Digging further into its etymology one gains even greater insight.

Ann Voskamp writes, in One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are “Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning joy.” Joy. Ah…yes. I might be needing me some of that. That might be what the quest for more is all about, that which Augustine claimed, “Without exception…all try their hardest to reach the same goal, that is joy.”

Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving.
Charis. Grace.
Chara. Joy.

Could it be that the quest to find joy, true joy, is as simple as giving thanks for His grace? Yes!

Gratitude is not just a commandment from the Lord. “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.” (D&C 59:7) It is a commandment with a promise, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.” (D&C 78:19)

With a promise like that why is it so hard for us to show gratitude? Gratitude takes work and effort. We not only have to feel it, we have to express it, for everything in our lives. Sister Bonnie D. Parkin taught, “Mercies and blessings come in different forms–sometimes as hard things. Yet the Lord said, ‘Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things’ (D&C 59:7).  All things means just that: good things, difficult things–not just some things. He has commanded us to be grateful because He knows being grateful will make us happy.”

Ingratitude, according to President Joseph F. Smith, is “one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today.” I believe it is one of the greatest sins because it is the one we most often commit. We are ungrateful. We fail to see and acknowledge the blessings that are abundant in our everyday lives.

“If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.” This observation was shared by President Monson a few years ago. Gratitude is definitely a virtue that is becoming lost in our world of ‘gimme, gimme’ or ‘I deserve this’ or ‘Woe is me.’ Pres. Monson continues,

Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . . when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.

We will always lack something. If we choose to focus on what we do not have we make ourselves miserable. We get caught up in the “if only’s” – if only I had this, if only I could do that – I would be happy.

One of my favorite scriptures of all time is a simple little one not often quoted. Philippians 4:11, “Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content.” We will always have something to be grateful for in whatever stage of life we are in. We just need to look for it.

Over a year ago I began keeping a gratitude journal, numbering the daily gifts from God. This has changed my life. I am living eucharisteo. President Henry B. Eyring has been keeping a gratitude journal for years. He would write a few lines every single night after asking himself,  “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?”

This one question, “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” is powerful. The answers are even more so. Why?

To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave to it. (Alexander Schmemann)

When we name our blessings we are showing God we value what He values. And we notice that what He values most is us.

Naming the blessings helps us see ourselves and those around us as God sees us. Giving thanks, counting my blessings, has changed my perspective, my focus. I no longer look inward. My eyes are drawn outward, upward to God.  In that drawing I am able to see the needs of others around me. In my limited realm of experience I have learned that in giving thanks I want to give. How can I not when I see how much I have truly been blessed? “Because I have been given much I too must give.” It is a natural God-intended consequence.

Giving thanks, thanksgiving, eucharisteo.

It is changing my life. I am finding joy.

About Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

Montserrat enjoys classical music, playing the piano, reading biographies, eating gourmet chocolate, and playing a good game of Scrabble. A farmer's wife and mother of nine, she thinks spending time with her family is truly heaven on earth!

9 Responses to Eucharisteo

  1. Paul says:

    Awesome thoughts. Thanks for this. I like the idea of the gratitude journal; I can see value in my being more rigorous about acknowledging and recording my blessings.

  2. Bonnie says:

    I had a dream this morning that left me feeling distraught and forlorn which I have been pondering in the hours since. It centers on this ability to live in peace with our lack of abundance as well as our abundance, and to see with clarity the opportunities of each. Because, in my dream, the hand of God was exposed as the reason for both, I am thinking this morning about how sometimes even situations that we think are our own fault have been guided by the Lord for our benefit. It gives whole new perspective to “therewith to be content.” I will be thinking about this more today, for certain.

    • Becky says:

      You know how people will say “God won’t give us anything we can’t handle”. Well, I’ve been thinking that is true only if it’s God given. So many times It’s our mistakes, faults, etc that create out trials. Yes, God will help us through them if we turn to him and he can make a learning experience out of anything for us mere mortals. And I suppose that is true, looking retrospectively that he guided our faults for our benefit. You stated that so well and I hope you are right for what I have been going through the last 3 years.

  3. lhamer says:

    I love this! In my preparations to write a talk the Sunday after Thanksgiving on just this topic, I see that we have used many of the same quotes and scriptures. Not to mention we both reference Ann Voskamp. Way to go, Montserrat! This is fabulous.

  4. Leslie says:

    I, too, have been thinking a lot about joy, and why some people are depressed no matter what blessings they have, they still are full of gloom and doom. We ALL have SO VERY MUCH to be grateful for, and if acknowledging it is what will bring us joy, then THANK HEAVENS!!!

  5. jendoop says:

    Your post is especially timely Montserrat, not just because of Thanksgiving. With all of the political fervor and distress over the national economy, I have felt unsettled. It is so hard to get away from the panic that some people feel, that the media perpetuates (The media validates it’s place in the center of our lives by perpetuating panic), and that modern circumstances could seem to confirm. The balance is found in gratitude. Like Bonnie said, we are so very blessed, even in our distress.

    I think gratitude has a sister quality, which increases our ability to receive blessings: preparation. When we stop long enough to recognize how God has blessed us (gratitude), we can see that there was preparation for that blessing to happen. Wouldn’t we be an anxiously engaged wise steward if we asked God to help us prepare to receive blessings?! Gratitude and preparation seem to be two weights on the scale that turn life from something terrifying and frenzied, to joyful and bounteous.

    What is the true expression/recognition of gratitude though? There was a post here a while ago about how comparisons aren’t true gratitude. How can we more fully recognize our blessings, and point them out to our children, without comparing (‘There are starving children in Africa!’)?

  6. Marsha Keller says:

    A gratitude journal changed my life. . . saved me from a dark ugly place. I completely agree. Loved the movie too, thank you, I needed the reminder today.

  7. Andy says:

    This is an old post which I stumbled upon, I enjoyed it, and wanted to say thank you. I like your broad application of the Eucharist to daily living. I have always been fond of relating it to our sacrament services. As the Eucharist is the Eastern Orthodox mentality of the sacrament, our Mormon ideology often is limited to the “Roman Catholic” type mentality of the sacrament. (Focusing on the pain and sacrifice.) it is much like the difference in the crucifix between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic, as one Christ is alive, and the other dead.

    During the last supper, Christ says he will not eat again like this until he comes again. In the D&C we learn of the great feast to be had at Adam-ondi-Oman. During the second coming, where all the prophets will be in attendance, and Christ included.

    Our current ordinance of the sacrament is just as much for the rememberence of Christ’s sacrifice, as it is a foreshadowing of Christ’s return, and therefore should also be a sacrament of gratitude, joy and anticipation. I feel like the later is often forgotten in our services. So I appreciate any discussion about the Eucharist.

  8. Pat says:

    Thankfulness for me is a learning proscess, and I thank God for helping me to get there. I pray that I can continue to focus on positive God given grace. The gratitude journal is a blessed idea, that I will be doingntomhelp me along this journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *