For those of you who don’t know me, one of my obsessive compulsive issues is clean hands. I wash my hands a lot and when there is a container of something like peanuts or a box of something like wheat thins, I don’t like it when I see people just stick their hand in there without washing them first. It makes it very difficult for me to want to eat from the box after that. Hey, it’s just one of my things, okay? I don’t know where your hands have been and so I’d rather not share a box of something with you unless I know your hands are clean and I wouldn’t expect you to just assume my hands are clean either. I could have just finished helping my sniffling seven year old wipe his runny nose, or maybe I just came in from the garage where I scooped three cat litter boxes. In either case you would like to believe I would go straight to running water and soap, but what if I didn’t? Would you be quick to share a box of wheat thins with me? Of course not, and I’ve seen people do some pretty gross things and then skip the hand washing process afterwards, so I’m pretty cautious when eating out of a box of food where many hands grab. I see toilets and snotty noses all over my thins and peanuts, but before you judge me for being obsessive compulsive over this (I’ve literally listened to people make fun of me for this!), do a quick recap over some of your own issues. We all have them, this is just one of mine. Anyway, the point is - Sam knows this about me so it would have been safe for him to assume that prior to packing their lunches, I washed my hands (which I did), so when I heard him talk about it without first bothering to say “hey, thanks for making me a lunch,” the already building explosion finally went “boom,” and the remaining 10 minutes before he left for work were spent in silence - and he headed out to work without lunch.
Shortly after I threw everything away, I realized that I didn’t even know why I was so angry, and in addition to that, I didn’t want to be angry. I decided in that moment to stop growing in anger and resentment and start growing in love and grace. For starters, I was already emotionally taxed and far from recovery from something that had happened the previous day, and what I was looking for was peace through worldly, faulty means. I sought a mouthful of gratitude and praise from my family, so when what I got was whining and complaining, I quickly became the epitome of irrationality and wrath. The problem here is not that they weren’t giving me what I needed; the problem is that I was seeking my need fulfillment from two human beings rather than from God. Yes, we need to build each other up, yes, we need to express gratitude towards our family, and yes, we need to show appreciation when people do nice things for us, but our validation should come only from God, not men, and not even from our own family. When we seek it from other flawed human beings, we wind up resentful, bitter, and hurt when they don’t respond how we think they should, and then the very act of kindness we started out trying to do becomes tainted and wrapped up in us rather than the intended recipient. “Well, it’s just common courtesy that she should say thank you,” you might argue. True, but place your need for that response in God’s hands and you’ll hear the sweet whisper of thanks come from Him, the only place from where you should be seeking it anyway. Acts of kindness cease to be about the other person when we start seeking fulfillment from them because if we have to have that reward for our kindness, then we were never truly being kind, at least not by God’s standards. Genuine kindness is it’s own reward and completely independent from a need for recognition. We need to do nice things and treat our family well because it’s what God tells us to do, not because we want recognition for our good deeds. Plus, if we can continue being kind without reward from man, God will reward us in a way and time so much better than man ever could. Have you ever done something nice for someone and never received a “thank you?” Most of us have and it hurts when our acts of kindness or generosity go unnoticed, but what’s important is that God notices, and He is all we need in this life. If you truly have this knowledge in your heart, then seeming ungratefulness from others becomes easy to slice through with the sword of God’s Spirit - because we know that our true reward awaits us in Heaven. Suddenly, absent gratitude doesn’t hurt anymore. When someone fails to show you gratitude for something you’ve done, just smile and remember that God thanks you, and when you’ve left this life, the reasons for someone’s silence will be shown to you. Expect to be surprised and humbled when that time comes, and remember that God wont ask you how someone responded to you when you did something kind; He’ll ask you how you treated them after they didn’t say “thank you.” If you feel bitterness or resentment rising in your spirit, decide to stop growing in those emotions and have an “until I didn’t” moment where you turn from bitterness and resentment and replant yourself in love and grace.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” - Colossians 3:23-24