Singing Thanks

It had been a bad morning, and my self-pity was pretty sincere. Then I saw the hands of the woman singing in front of me.

I think I began to truly understand the meaning of gratitude one warm Sunday morning in sacrament meeting.

The day had begun terribly. Waking up late because my alarm clock hadn’t gone off, I scrambled out of bed. I shoved two slices of bread in the toaster and flew to the bathroom to get ready for church.

A smoky smell billowed from the direction of the kitchen. I quickly ran to the toaster only to discover my bread was reduced to two pieces of charcoal. I ate two pieces of plain bread while my family gathered around the table for daily scripture reading. Usually this is one of the best parts of my day, but on that particular morning, I could only concentrate on how bad things were going. Before I knew it, we were finished and on our way to church.

It is no small accomplishment for anyone to quietly slip into sacrament meeting late, but it is nearly impossible for the 11 people in my family. My face burned red in humiliation as my little brothers and sisters stomped loudly to their seats. I could feel every eye on us.

As I slumped into my seat, I tried to ignore all the other girls, whose hair and dresses looked so much nicer than mine. Their families seemed perfect, too. Waves of self-pity filled me, and I bitterly told myself it wasn’t fair.

As I was sitting there, I noticed a woman who was sitting in a wheelchair. It wasn’t until I noticed that another woman placed a hymnbook in her lap that I realized she must be reading braille. Following the raised dots with her fingers, she began to sing, “Because I have been given much, I too must give.”

Tears welled up in my eyes, and I tried to swallow the lump in my throat. I had been so concerned with my problems, I had forgotten to remember my blessings. Although this woman could neither walk nor see, she was singing, joyfully telling the world of her love and gratitude for the Savior.

I started to think about all the things I was grateful for: a comfortable home, a loving family, clothes to wear, and food to eat. Most of all, I had the gospel and a loving Father in Heaven to guide me through the trials in my life—whether they were small (like a bad Sunday morning) or large.

As the final strains of the song were sung, I determined to thank and praise my Lord at all times, no matter the conditions. I still have times when nothing seems right, but then I remember that extraordinary woman who found it within herself to express her thankfulness. I want to be like her.

[photo] Photography by Lana Leishman