An Attitude of Gratitude

Several of my friends and family members have made medical/mission trips to other countries, including Haiti, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.  All of them have returned to the United States with stories about the generosity of the people who hosted them.

These impoverished people, most of whom had barely enough food, clean water and shelter to allow for their own existence, shared freely with the visiting missionaries.  They gave to the Americans the very best they had to offer.   The generosity and deep gratitude demonstrated by these poor people made lasting impressions upon my friends.

In Haiti, children stood in long lines in the hot sun in order to be given a single crayon.  Similarly, in El Salvador, both children and adults waited for hours to receive a free toothbrush.  In the Dominican Republic, people who lived in makeshift houses constructed of metal or cardboard celebrated when a mission team built a modest, two-room house out of wood for a homeless family.

One friend told me a story about her experience following just such a mission trip.  She and her teammates were on their way home from El Salvador, feeling exhausted but exhilarated from their efforts to help the people they had visited.  In Dallas, the group changed planes to complete the final leg of their trip home.

When my friend got onto the plane, she witnessed an argument taking place between another passenger and the flight attendant.  The passenger, a man, had knowingly sat down in a seat assigned to another passenger.

When the flight attendant asked the man to move to the seat that had been assigned to him, he protested loudly, saying he would not move.  He complained that he had already been asked to move once, and he resented being asked to move again.

My friend who witnessed this episode turned to a companion and said sadly, “Welcome to America.”

Most people in this country have everything they need to live comfortable lives.  Yet, they show little appreciation for their good fortune and demand even more than what they already have.  They seem not to realize that they are among the most blessed people on earth.

My kitchen pantry overflows with boxes, bags, and cans of good food.  My linen closet is filled with comfy towels and sheets.  My closet contains more clothes and shoes than I need, and I sleep in a clean bed inside a warm house in a peaceful neighborhood every night.  I am grateful.

My gratitude prompts me to want to help those who are not so fortunate, but the problem of worldwide poverty is great.  How can I, one single soul, make a significant difference?

Andy Stanley, a minister in Atlanta, Georgia, offers this advice to me and to others who desire to help.  Andy encourages us to “Do for one what we wish we could do for everyone.”

The arrogant, self-indulging man on the airplane in Dallas must not be allowed to represent all Americans.  I challenge you to find a need and fill it; do unto others as you would have them do to you; pay it forward; do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.


© Debbie Scales                    February 21, 2016                    531 Words




6 thoughts on “An Attitude of Gratitude”

  1. Great article Debbie. I couldn’t agree with you more and I’ve always tried to live by the “Golden Rule” but must admit I don;t always show my appreciation for all the blessings I have received; I just hope I not as arrogant as the passenger on the plane.

  2. Great reminders, Debbie, that the majority of us who live in this great land we call America have blessings and fortunes beyond belief. I, too, often feel overwhelmed with world poverty and feel that I can’t make a difference, But I do appreciate Mr. Stanley’s advice in that we can all help just one person at a time. If we could all take on his advice, what a different world this would be! One child at a time, one single mom at a time, one widow or widower at a time, one impoverished family at a time….

    1. Becky, Thank you for your encouragement as I continue posting on my blog. Lately, I’ve been stuck on the idea of gratitude (or ingratitude). We who have been given so much are often unhappy because we want more. The murmuring and complaining in this country must rival that of the Israelites when they were delivered from Egypt. A shame.

  3. An add on…like Shirley’s! My fingers don’t always work right! My fingers were supposed to hit “a period” key after the word difference. 🙂

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