Being Thankful Means Accepting Help As Much As Offering It

Grateful: {synonyms} thankful, appreciative; indebted, obliged, obligated, in someone’s debt, beholden*

I was looking up definitions and synonyms of grateful and thankful I wanted to know if there was a difference between the two since I can be grateful for what I have — my family, my home, food on the table, my pets, financial security, and more — but the moment someone DOES something for me, “thank you” are the last words I want to say.

On Sunday, my husband let me sleep in late.

When I finally rolled over to look at the clock, it was 10:00 a.m.. I hadn’t seen 10 a.m. from my bed since Mother’s Day and the first words out of my mouth were, “HOLY CRAP!” And not in a good way.

I immediately reviewed my calendar plans. Was I supposed to do or be anywhere this morning that I now missed? I sighed with relief when the answer was no, but my freaking out did not end there.

I next jumped to attempting to recall all my afternoon plans to see if the extra sleep meant I couldn’t do any of them. What if I needed to leave the house without the kids and now I would feel obligated to stay because I was allowed to sleep in late? Would I have to remind my husband that I didn’t ask to sleep in so no one could get mad at me for having to work/leave? Should I remind my husband of the last time I let him sleep in? Except he only slept in until 8 a.m.. And what happens tonight when I can’t fall asleep because I got so much sleep and my entire sleep cycle for the week is ruined. RUINED, I SAY!

By this point, I’m into the full-fledge insanity of not-thankfulness. It’s basically the second-half of those synonyms up there: thankfulness leads to obligation and debt. See, I can be grateful for what I have, but I don’t want to accept anything extra. I want us to stay even. I may even be more comfortable if I’m up one. It’s not that I’ll think you owe me because I don’t want anything from you. I would just rather help than be helped. I can easily be grateful for the opportunity to help, but I don’t want to do the hard work of accepting help and being thankful for it.

However, as my husband neared our bedroom door, I thought of all the times I ruined his kindness by explaining it away. Oh, I was about to do the dishes, you beat me to it! I can fold the laundry with you instead of reading this book. I know I’m sick but I’ll just help with the kids’ bedtime anyway. In the end, I’m ruining his thoughtfulness, his opportunity to help me, and my chance to be more full of thanks.

When he walked into the room, I said, “Thank you for letting me sleep in,” and nothing more.

“You’re welcome,” he replied.

And we had a wonderful, thankful, grateful day.

*synonyms from the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus