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Disheveled Theologian: Let's always keep the ability to say 'thanks!'

I couldn’t help but laugh on Sunday night when Allison Janney, winner of the Best Supporting Actress category at the 2018 Academy Awards, stood at the microphone to make her acceptance speech and the first words out of her mouth were, “I did it all by myself.” She then giggled a little and continued, “Nothing further from the truth … thank you to the academy…” and then proceeded to thank all the usual people that the winners thank.

Being thankful at the Academy Awards is a given. How can a fresh-minted Oscar winner not give thanks to anyone and everyone who supported him or her in their quest for the golden statue? Surely it would be churlish not to. Janney only emphasized the “it takes a village” aspect of an actor’s life with her humor.

It’s nice that giving thanks is such a huge aspect of acceptance speeches at award ceremonies. It’s good to see people acknowledge that it’s “nothing further from the truth” to say that they’ve reached such pinnacles alone. There are assistants, hair and make-up artists, designers, networks, directors, friends and family who have helped them along the way. Truly, no actor is an island.

Having recently written 33 “bios” for the Worthington High School musical performance of “Into the Woods,” I definitely saw that the precedent for actors giving thanks is set long before they stand on the stage at the Kodak Theatre. True, I had a list of questions to ask each performer, including “who would you like to thank,” but just the fact that it’s a given that I should ask that makes me happy. It’s good to have the kids think about whom they ought to be thanking in their adventure of making the musical happen.

And there wasn’t one kid who didn’t want to thank anyone. Sure, a few were more reticent than others in listing people they were thankful for, but all were able to come up with someone (most often their parents) for whom they were thankful. On the other hand, two or three were so verbose in their thanks that I almost had to put their words into a smaller font, thanking the school district, the audience and the community. I loved that.

When I woke up this morning (on the day I’m writing this) — well, when I finally opened my eyes after hitting the snooze button three times — I automatically said what I say every morning when waking up. “Thanks for this day and I give it to you.”

It’s my reminder that every day of my life is a gift from God and I want him to be in control of it so that I don’t mess it up. (I still do mess many of my days up, but thankfully, God is a forgiving God!)

Today, as I said those words, I had to laugh. Because today isn’t a day I’ve been looking forward to. In fact, I’ve been dreading it for five years. And after today I’ll start dreading this same event five years from now, and so on, and so on, until, I think it is, I’m 80, when they say you don’t need to bother with this certain medical procedure anymore because, apparently, it’s just too late for you by then.

It’s colonoscopy prep day for Gretchen. No, I’m not 50 yet, and yes, I know that for most people it’s every 10 years, but I’m special, I guess, in that I get to go every five years because my mama had colon cancer. And so I bought my clear liquids, made my lemon Jell-O, ate my allotted two pieces of toast for breakfast, and from here on out it’s Prep Time!

Hence my laughter that I could wake up and say, “Thanks for this day and I give it to you.” Giving this day to God is easy! But being thankful for it, less so. But the habit of thanks allows me to say I’m thankful even for a day I’ve been dreading. And I am thankful for doctors who know how to fix things. For insurance that pays them for doing so. For two previous clean colonoscopies, giving me hope for this third one.

When I told my mom that I’d be having the procedure done this week, can you guess what she said? “Thank you for doing that.”

May we always keep thankfulness forefront in our minds and words.

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” Psalm 11:4 NIV

Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is gcodon@gmail.com.

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