As a young child, I remember all the excitement when the city put a public sewer line in our street. All the neighbors were quitting their “septic tank” system and hooking up to the new line. Even though my dad was older, dealing with cancer, and had various health challenges, he decided to dig the ditch to hook up the new line.
The ditch from the septic tank at the back of our house to the street hookup was a long one. As he dug, some change fell out of his pocket and rolled into the ditch. He couldn’t bend down to retrieve it, so taking a break, he came into the house and asked me to help him. As we walked outside together, on way to the ditch, he thanked me. I replied I hadn’t done anything yet. To which he said, “I know, but I appreciate you, honey. I appreciate your help.”
My dad was born in Belgium. His mom died when he was six. He immigrated to the United States at age ten. He grew up to work as a plumber in a factory. With a wife and two kids to support; he worked his entire life to pay off the mortgage and own his car. He felt happy and proud when he achieved those goals.
His “old country” work ethic wouldn’t allow him to pour a shovel full of dirt over the pocket change that had fallen into the ditch. He didn’t want the money for himself, he readily offered it to me. I climbed down into the ditch and retrieved my reward of about twenty cents. It took less than two minutes and; dad thanked me again.
In this small, unassuming event, I helped my dad and he was grateful. But what both of us received that day was far more than pocket change.
I can count on one hand the number of “moments” my dad and I shared time alone together. After I climbed out of the ditch, I sat on the grass nearby while he dug. For a man who didn’t talk much, he told me all about the new sewer line. (Way more plumbing information than I ever wanted to know.) He told me how long the ditch would be, how the line would operate, and when he would finish. He showed me the level and how to watch the bubble in the middle to make sure the angle of the pipe was steep enough for the water to flow to the street.
As my dad shared, he was transformed right before my eyes. He was no longer an immigrant, factory worker, a cancer patient, lonesome ditch digger but a father, teacher, master plumber and provider for his family.
Through this innocent, unassuming event, triggered by appreciation, we found ourselves ushered into the kingdom, surrounded by an all-encompassing love. Looking back, I see, as we walked to the ditch that day, my father’s appreciation opened a field of love for us where we shared happily.
Psalm 100 invites us to, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord! Serve the Lord with gladness. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise.” Over and over the Psalmist sang of the value of praise and appreciation.
Isn’t it true that in every relationship appreciation is a builder, strengthener, healer, multiplier of good, and dissolver of discord? Can you see that when you practice thankfulness, love can pour into your life in overflowing measure?
Do you look at your life and long for it to be different or better? There’s an important step you can take toward having the kind of life you long to have. Appreciation is love on steroids. Thankfulness is a spiritual enzyme that releases a mystical “something” that creates a deep connection between you and the object of your appreciation.
Say, “Thank you God” for everything, even for the smallest things like a hot meal, a wonderful time with friends, a comfortable bed.
And, like my dad, don’t wait to give thanks. Don’t wait until every prayer is answered. Don’t wait until relationships or situations are perfect.
Give thanks where you are, right now, in your current circumstances.
Give it a try. Find one specific thing to appreciate about each person you interact with this week, then watch as your relationships are infused with an all-encompassing love!
For more spiritual principles to enrich your life, I invite you to visit Spiritual Growth Studio.