Thank you notes.
We’ve all written them, avoided them, intended to write them and then allowed an inappropriate amount of time to pass.
They are the most likely catalyst for the first post-wedding argument, the perpetual source of writer’s block, and the hardest way to articulate good intentions. They often provide a necessary occasion for oversize font and exaggerated spacing.
Every once in a while I can wield a devastatingly gracious thank you card, writing through the page margins and on the backside. There is barely enough room to sign my name, because the whole card is overflowing with cursive-print thankfulness.
And that’s happened before.
Like, maybe, twice.
But on average days, which is most days, I write thank you notes like a fourth grader.
Thank you for your gift. It was so thoughtful! I love it!
It gets even trickier when the thank you note applies to a gesture you are not completely, and maybe not ever-so-slightly, thankful for.
A few years ago a dear friend got us a shiny air-popper for our wedding (machine that blows hot air to make popcorn). At the time, I was heavily committed to bagged popcorn, the kind that was labeled “Light” and could be consumed straight from the bag by the handful. The air popper was a tough sell.
Our friend selected the gift from the backcountry of Bed Bath and Beyond, from outside the well-defined borders of our registry.
He promised, “My gift is going to change your life. Seriously. “
And I was skeptical.
But then we got the air popper.
And after that I was just confused.
Quickly thereafter I wrote a thank-you note for the since-returned air popper, promising “we absolutely loved it!!! Yours truly, Bekah.” Perhaps I could used better words than “loved” and “truly.”
But here’s the kicker: two years later, I returned to Bed Bath and Beyond to purchase a kitchen appliance that I was certain would change my life. Suddenly, on-call air-popped popcorn seemed like an absolute revelation. It seemed like my snack-life depended on it.
I enthusiastically repurchased the exact same air popper I returned two years before, and I remembered that it was the exact gift I found inconvenient not long ago.
I thought about that thank-you note that I didn’t mean then but I actually mean now.
I thought about the habit of thanking before you feel thankful, the tension of Philippians 4:6, which says the antidote to anxiety is prayer with thanksgiving.
And if I’m honest, sometimes the thanksgiving part feels a bit like a half hearted thank-you card, an attempt to fill up white space with gratitude I’m not feeling yet.
“Dear Jesus. Thanks for this __thing__. It was so thoughtful! You always seem to give gifts from outside the borders of my carefully articulated registry. You are both creative and in-charge, but do you really have to be both?
I’m not sure exactly where I’ll store this ___thing____. I’m not sure what to call it, or even how to hold it, but I’m sure I’ll find a place. Tell your dad I say hello! Hope to see you soon. Yours truly, Bekah.”
He promises, “My gifts are going to change your life. Seriously.”
And I get excited in theory, but then look at a certain job or relationship or task with a heavy dose of skepticism, thinking that I don’t see His gift as a gift but as an ill-fitting addition to an already crowded life.
Yet we’re supposed to thank Him for the gifts that seem utterly inconvenient. It’s the discipline of those that understand their own short-sightedness, the worship of ones that know God is both creative and in charge.
Does He really have to be both?
Thank you, God, for being both.
I practice writing thank you notes to Him, fighting procrastination and writer’s block and downright laziness. Sometimes it’s super-easy, overflowing with cursive words like Halleljuah! and Glory! Other times it’s work, a focused effort to recognize the perfect intentions of a loving God.
What looks inconvenient now might be an absolute revelation in two years. I’m believing it just might change my snack life, or real life, in the most necessary way.