Many years ago when I was a fledging magazine editor my boss asked me to do something that seemed a useless, thankless task. Back then I edited the column in the magazine, today’s “Upside,” that was a collection of quotes. Finding good, inspiring quotes was hard, and what seemed even harder is that he wanted me to go back to my desk, look at all the quotes I’d run, and write a list of all the people who had helped me find those quotes. Every last one of them.
I didn’t say no, but I sure did object to doing it. It took the better part of a day. I went through files and checked back through dog-eared pages, writing down names, lots of them, and just how much help all those people had given me. Oh, my word, what a revelation. This column, which I had conveniently congratulated myself for creating month after month…it was not the work of one heroic junior editor. It was put together by a team, and every one of them deserved thanks. When I finished the exercise I was overcome with gratitude.
I was thinking of that lesson the other day when I got my first copy of 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without. The thing that pleased me most about the book, the pages I was most thrilled to read were the Acknowledgements. In this life, there never seem to be enough chances to thank the people that make any of our achievements possible. Sure, I get impatient at the awards shows, like the Grammys and the Oscars, when people yammer on incessantly about all the people that have helped them. But the instinct is right and prayerful.
In the book I put a chapter in about the prayer “Thanks.” Times in my life when I found prayer hard to come by, when I wasn’t sure what my words could be, when I didn’t feel close to God or when I felt out of sorts with myself and hobbled by a sense of failure, “Thanks” has never failed to work. It’s put me back in touch with God and with the best part of myself. Because when you thank someone else for what they’ve done for you, you are also thanking God for putting them in your life and making you the person you need to be. Success is paved with gratitude.
Thanks dear ones. Thank you every person who ever prayed for me. Thank you every person who asked me to pray for. Thank you my friends and family for helping me write a book. My one source of anxiety: there surely is someone I forget to mention on that Acknowledgements page. Good Lord, let me know who that is so I can thank them.