He was nearly finished with his pasta when I dug my spoon down into the cheesy bowl. I took my first bite and found it room temperature. I was surprised at how long winded I was with a man I only had one conversation with outside of this lunch. I must have gone on for a half hour if this bowl was already cooling down. I took my next bite and looked up at him in anticipation. He was about to give me the answer to all the problems I just shared.
In the 30 seconds of silence before he spoke I tried to guess what advice this man would give me. I had heard him lecture around 6 or 7 times and his lectures had been some of the most complex, neuron stimulating, and inspiring teachings I had heard. Maybe you think I would take creative liberties to compare his lectures to most of the TED talks, or university lectures I’ve heard, but I’m not. They were brilliant. They were all from the bible.
I was sharing lunch with this guy. He was sitting across from me, and I had just spilled my guts to him. I reckon the reason for me laying down my insides on the lunch table was due to the exchange I thought we were about to make. The exchange I had imagined involved me showing him the dirt, the flaws, the hurts, and the frustrations pent up in me for the past year and in return he would give me the words I needed to let go, overcome, forgive, and heal. This would conclude the transaction.
I took my next bite and looked up at him in anticipation. After the brief silence he spoke, “Take this for what it’s worth, and that may only be two pennies, but I would encourage you to seek out things to be grateful for.” Hold up. What? I felt some how cheated in this transaction. He did not fulfill his end of the deal. As I remember correctly, speakers, leaders, and people who hold positions of authority are supposed tell you how to become a better you in “7 steps.” The lunch concluded and we parted ways.
Two days later I found myself on the receiving end of someone spilling out their guts and it hit me. The advice I was given made sense. How this person, spilling and telling all, does not have the perspective that I had, being the unattached listener of their problems. While this person was spilling, I really only had one word of advice to give them in all of their troubles, “I hear you, but I would encourage you to seek out the things you can be grateful for.” That was it. That was all I had to give, and it had finally made sense to me. This person and I like to sit in our own kiddy pool of loathing, splash around a bit, and claim it’s justifiable. I realized at that moment, as the advice came out from my mouth, how much time I focus on the pains rather than the gifts of life.
The TED talks guru who shared lunch with me gave the advice I needed but did not want. I was expecting some kind of empathy mixed with a dose of self justification, but instead was challenged to be grateful. I have an extensive list, as do you, from infidelities to misquote bites, to be ungrateful for. I have plenty to gripe about and you probably have more. But how much more do we have to be thankful for?
In an extensive list of commands in Colossians 3 a remarkably simple one is given at the end of verse 14 “… be thankful.”
You have been screwed over at work? Your boyfriend dumped you? You didn’t get the scholarship you needed to pay for school?
“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:18
Hi, I am Nick Edwards. I have been given more than I could ever give back. I have received salvation at no cost. I have grown up under two incredible parents, and live outside of America with my sister, who happens to be one of my best friends. I have two brothers who inspire me. I have been given friendships that I don’t deserve. I have all five senses, and an iPhone. I have had every need taken care of and a few wants along with it. I have you reading my regurgitated growth and I am grateful for it. I have enough money for food this week, and a little extra for a coffee. One of my best friends is getting married in a month, and I get to be there. I am incredibly imperfect, but I am incredibly grateful that Jesus loves me just the same.