Counting our blessings and making our blessings count

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give thanks - Thanksgiving concept - text in letterpress wood type printing blocks with cone, acorn, leaf and berries fall decoration

give thanks – Thanksgiving concept – text in letterpress wood type printing blocks with cone, acorn, leaf and berries fall decoration

Following my high school graduation, my cousin and I traveled to England for a weeklong tour.

While I enjoyed seeing the many historical sites that the British Isles has to offer, one of the highlights of my trip was visiting the All England Lawn Tennis Club, home of the Wimbledon tennis championships.

We happened to be in England during Wimbledon, so my cousin and I thought it would be fun to walk around the grounds at Centre Court, just to say we had been there.

Actually attending a match at the famed Centre Court seemed out of the realm of possibility for a couple of unsophisticated teenagers on a limited budget.

Centre Court is arguably the most famous tennis venue in the world. I had watched many Wimbledon matches on television, so it was thrilling to be at that storied venue. Just one year earlier, I had watched German star Boris Becker, who at the tender age of 17 — my same age at the time — claim the Wimbledon championship.

While soaking up the aura and atmosphere of the All England Tennis Club, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and a well-dressed woman with a British accent asked me if I had any tickets. I shook my head no, thinking she needed tickets.

Before I knew it, she placed something in my hand. I looked down and saw two tickets to a match on Centre Court. My cousin and I were stunned and speechless. By the time I looked up to thank her, she had disappeared into the crowd.

My cousin and I walked into Centre Court and sat in box seats not far from the action (we watched the Gullikson twins, Tom and Tim, compete, though I can’t remember if they won or lost).

Sitting at Centre Court to watch a Wimbledon match was unforgettable. And so was a stranger’s simple act of kindness toward me, a stranger in a strange land (I nearly got crushed by one of those double-decker buses a few times because I looked the wrong way while crossing the street).

There is a lesson there about generosity, of course, but that experience also taught me something about gratitude.

I really wish I could have thanked my British benefactress for being so generous. Years later, I still feel grateful for her willingness to give us those tickets. It probably wasn’t a big deal for her, but it was for me and my cousin. That was a dramatic, conspicuous example of being grateful for something I received.

But what about all the many inconspicuous blessings I receive every day that I tend to forget or overlook? Most of the blessings I receive daily go unnoticed and I fail to give thanks for them.

Do we appreciate all the things that are bestowed on us by others and, more importantly, by a loving Heavenly Father? Do we acknowledge, the tender mercies He bestows on us regularly?

“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” —Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.”

I think we make our blessings count by remembering them, cherishing them, and living in a spirit of gratitude. There seems to be an attitude of entitlement in our materialism-driven society. We see many that, when they don’t get what they want — right now — tend to feel angry or victimized.

“Do material possessions make us happy and grateful? Perhaps momentarily,” President Thomas S. Monson has said. “However, those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted.”

During this holiday season, let’s resolve to be more grateful every day for the blessings that we receive.

“If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.” —President Thomas S. Monson

“Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love,” President Monson continued. “We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.”

Let’s express our gratitude more frequently to God and to our family members for the little things we receive. When we do so, we will make our blessings count.

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Jeff Call has covered BYU sports since 1993, including the past 16 years for the Deseret News. He, his wife and six sons live in Cedar Hills.

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