On that beautiful fall morning, Kelly decided to surprise her parents with a clean car. She knew they had plans that afternoon to go out. One way she could show her appreciation for driving the vehicle was to wash it.
Grabbing the car cleaner Dad preferred, the vacuum, some rags, window cleaner, and the hose, she carefully backed the car out of the garage. Kelly hated washing windows, but she tackled the job anyway. The sun’s angle was perfect for detecting all those streaks she notoriously left on windows. This time Kelly determined to get them all.
About thirty minutes before her folks planned to leave, Kelly finished. Walking around the car, she spotted one area that needed a quick redo. Then, gathering up all the supplies, Kelly walked toward the garage to put everything away, satisfied she’d done an excellent job. She couldn’t wait for her folks to drive off in their clean car.
When Dad and Mom came out, Dad said, “Thanks for cleaning the car, Kelly. It looks great. But you missed a huge streak on the window. It’s right here in my line of vision.”
Kelly’s joy disappeared like a puff of smoke. “Really? That’s all Dad saw? The one spot I didn’t get quite right? I worked hard to do something nice without being asked, and he didn’t appreciate it.”
Without realizing it, Kelly took a vow that day that would follow her for years.
When was the last time someone dashed your expectations, and their words stole your joy?
Or what about being around people who compliment you with their first breath, and then steal the compliment in the next breath with a critical word. Why can’t you and I give praise and leave the “I just want to help you improve for the next time” statements until another time?
Recently, I heard a comment from someone who’d received a free, rather pricey gift. “Yes, it’s very nice. But it’s a good thing I can fix it.” Seriously? Talk about ingratitude.
Several years ago, I injured my back. During my three-month-long bedrest, I learned a valuable lesson about gratitude. When someone does something for you, be thankful for whatever they did. However they did it. Period.
How do you learn to practice gratitude?
- Say thank you. It sounds simple. But listen to your words. If you say, “Thank you. But next time could you <blank>?” you are not expressing gratitude at all. You just robbed their joy. Just say thank you.
- Be thankful. I’m not speaking facetiously. Examine your heart. Are you thankful? Honestly? Or are you thinking about everything that didn’t get done correctly, or as you would do it? If you are grateful, focus on the gift in front of you. Don’t look beyond that. And, whatever you do, don’t redo what the person has just done for you.
- Act thankful. Words are cheap. If your actions don’t back up your words, people learn not to trust you. A gracious person not only expresses gratitude often but also walks out that gratitude. They are more concerned with serving others than being served. A gracious person looks for ways to build up another.
But what if you are like Kelly? You tried your best. You put yourself out there, it didn’t go as you’d hoped, and all you have are dead roses. How do you deal with the apparent lack of appreciation?
- Examine your motives. Did you do whatever you did to receive praise? Or did you do it out of love for the other person?
Sometimes, without realizing it, we can be looking for praise from another. While that’s not wrong, it often doesn’t happen, and then we feel hurt. But, if our motive is merely to bless someone else, whether that person appreciates it or not, we can find joy in the doing.
- Examine your words. Do you say the same kinds of things to others? Are you embarrassed when someone expresses appreciation to you, and you try to deflect it?
Learn from others who don’t know how to express gratitude. Receiving a compliment or a thankful word is hard. Learn to do so graciously.
- Examine your thoughts. What do you do with your hurt?
Several years ago, I learned to handle hurtful comments by seeing them as dead roses. No one wants a bouquet of dead, dry, brittle roses. I gather these dead roses up, being careful not to allow the thorns to prick me, and present them to my Heavenly Father. When I do, I ask Him to show me the truth in the comments and heal the wounds in my heart and mind. It’s a simple visual that helps me deflect these types of comments.
Years later, Kelly realized the vow she’d made. The wound still festered in her heart. As she learned to release it, to see that she had been looking for praise for all the wrong reasons, she discovered what it meant to be grateful in all things.
Life isn’t about doing everything perfectly.
It’s more about seeing the heart behind what a person does for you and expressing genuine thanks. Please don’t give them a bouquet of dead roses.
So, the next time you’re tempted to quickly wipe that spot your child missed when they washed the car, smile and say thank you.
When your friend brings you a bouquet of flowers, don’t rearrange them. Give your friend a warm hug and say thank you.
When your husband cleans up the kitchen, thank him with a romantic kiss—not a lesson—and see where it leads.
Be grateful for all things. Someone did something nice for you, so you didn’t have to do it. What could be better than that?
What do you do when you receive a dead rose? Leave a comment below.
If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.