Week One: Be generous
In 2008 a young Australian woman, Hailey Bartholomew, found that she wasn’t enjoying life. She described herself as feeling lost and stuck on a treadmill. It was almost inexplicable. She was married to a man she loved and had beautiful children who held her heart. So why was she feeling so down about her life?
Hailey sought the counsel of a nun, who advised her to spend time each day reflecting on something for which she was grateful. Hailey began a project called “365 Grateful”. Every day she took a photograph of something for which she was grateful. It changed her life, for it allowed her to see things she had never noticed. Hailey had always thought of her husband as unromantic. One day she took a picture of him serving up dinner, the thing which she was grateful for that day. She noticed for the first time that the largest portion of pie was placed on her plate. She realised that the largest portion was always placed on her plate and that this was one small but profound way her husband showed his care for her. Hailey had found mothering a “boring job”, but as she took photos of her children holding out their hands to her, playing and exploring, she discovered how much joy and wonder there was in her world. Through the art of gratitude Hailey found herself lifted out of her rut and celebrating life.
Scripture is filled with injunctions to give thanks to God for the good things in our lives. This is not because God needs our praises but because we need to give God our praise and thanks. Gratitude causes us to slow down and appreciate the many good things in our lives; relieves us of the notion that they are the results of our own hard work; and liberates us from the consumerist illusion that we don’t have enough. It enables us to recognise that the good things we have in our life often come to us as a gift from others and from God and engenders within us a sense that just as we have been blessed by God and others, so we want to bless others. Gratitude is one of the most significant resources for lifting us out of narcissism and into generous love.