Turning Thanks

I remember clearly many meals throughout my early childhood, my southern relatives gathering in large numbers around Granny’s dining room table, aromas wafting and tummies growling. An elder would usually ask in thick Georgia drawl, “Who’s gon’ turn thanks?”

Anybody could’ve volunteered, but the kids all kept quiet so Granddaddy would have to do it. His voice always sounded like a truck going over a bridge. He would take a giant breath and try to get it all in before his lungs collapsed. “Loooooord look down upon us and make us thankful for these and all Thy blessings in Christ’s name Amen!”

And we kids would giggle and get elbowed as steaming bowls and platters floated from one end of the table to the other, us littler ones grabbing rolls or drumsticks as they passed.

I always wondered why we “turned thanks”. It wasn’t until today (no lie) that it occurred to me that they meant “return thanks”. So that’s what they were doing. Returning thanks. For the food, and for “all Thy blessings” summed up in three words blown out lickety-split between inhaling and exhaling air and then inhaling the feast before us.

No wonder I was an adult before I knew what counting blessings was all about. I’ve heard the term “give thanks” most of my life. I’m 47, and it is just now that I am realizing what it means to live thanks.

And maybe “turning thanks” wasn’t such an unfortunate colloquialism, all things considered. Turning thoughts from ourselves to God is a good thing.

Sometimes we called it “saying grace”. We didn’t need to know what those words meant, really; we just knew it meant praying and eating. Even then, I was acknowledging my need for His favor even if I didn’t fully understand it.

In the end I am grateful for all those who lived alongside me in my childhood, whether they cherished me and treated me with respect or wished I’d never been born.

They needed grace, and so have I.

I am grateful for those one-breath prayers over cat fish and grits because they taught me that Someone besides Granny was responsible for the table filled with food that showed up every day. They showed me, even in some small way, that it wasn’t by our own hands we were fed, but by His.

I couldn’t have told you then what provision meant, but I saw how all heads were bowed and all eyes closed and Reggie getting kicked under the table for sneaking biscuits before amen. Because first, we returned thanks.

First. We returned thanks. Has it become an afterthought?

Better an afterthought than no thought at all, but what if we thanked Him ahead of time? What if we thanked Him always?

What if we lived our thanks every moment of every day, praying through the breaths and maybe never saying amen at all?

I want to live thanks. For the cabbage and the breaths and the mercy, and for guarding us in the dark and holding us in our grief.

But mostly it’s for the grace that I want to turn thanks over in my head and heart, turn it back to Him because living a life of thank-you is how I show Him I believe life is only all His grace.

And that I want to live it gratefully all for Him.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  II Cor. 4:15

By Lisa @ Write, Pray, Love

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  1. 1

    Living thanks blesses our Father. How we live…deliberately choosing to live thankfully for all He provided without grumbling about what we’ve gotten…acknowledging that He is the provider of what we need most. So much to think about here. Thank you for the telling of your story and how it has affected you today. Rich blessings…

  2. 2

    This is so wonderful – I know I need to remember why we do what we do:
    for returning thanks.
    Blessings -
    Teri

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