Flat Tire Lessons in How to be Thankful

My son Taylor left for school one morning only to find he had a flat front tire.  He left for school on foot and left me with a job.

I gathered the jack and tools I needed and quickly took off three of the lug nuts.  I was cruising along and giving thanks that Taylor had such a resourceful father. But when I got to the fourth lug nut it wouldn’t budge.  No matter how much of my 155 lbs. I put into it, no matter how much of my sculpted muscles I used to force it, it wouldn’t budge.

I wasn’t very thankful.  Then later in the day my neighbor Raymond came down with his young son Jacob.  Raymond speaks very little English and I speak very little Spanish.  So Jacob came to translate.  Raymond came to help.  He stood on one end of the lug nut wrench and I pulled up on the other and together we forced the fourth lug nut loose.  He looked at me, smiled and said, “My 200 lbs.”

The next morning I took off the tire, put the spare on, and let the car down.  The spare was flat.  Then I noticed the back passenger side tire.  It had a leak in the valve.  It was more work for me on a busy day and my thankfulness tank was running empty.

Maybe yours has too.  Can we learn to be thankful even in trying times?  We can if our perspective is right.  For instance, try this:

  • Next time you want to complain that you had to wait on your food at a restaurant, remember that 27,000 children die every day of malnutrition.
  • Next time you want something and your parents don’t give it to you, remember that half the world lives on just $2 a day.
  • Next time you feel the urge to quit a job because you did not receive a pay raise, remember that there are a billion people worldwide who do not even have a job.
  • Next time a cold has got you down, realize that in the world today nearly 200,000 people will die from a curable disease.

In his book Life Together Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” 

The tire ordeal gave me a lesson in thankfulness.

  • I was thankful that we found the problem when the car was parked and not when my son was driving and could have been injured.
  • I was thankful that in the process of something that was not going well, I encountered an act of friendship.
  • I was prompted to be thankful that he even had a car.

Don’t know if you can be thankful in your circumstance?  You won’t know until you give it a try.

Question: What lessons have you learned in being thankful for the ordinary?  

 

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