Arrested in the name of gratitude

Published 7:40 am Wednesday, April 10, 2024

By Les Ferguson Jr.

For too short of a time, I lived with and was somewhat raised by the bad word police. My son Cole was mentally and physically disabled. He had Cerebral Palsy, and while it limited him in many ways, he was a determined young man who wanted everybody to do the right thing. 

He was insistent that some expressions should never be uttered, particularly the word “stupid.” Unfortunately, my filter for that word was like the ice cream machine at Mickey Ds; it rarely worked. 

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As soon as “stupid” entered the audible zone, Cole began sounding like the most obnoxious British siren. Bad word, bad word, baaad wooord—undulating in varying degrees of loudness and syllable stress. Eventually, the siren sound was replaced with a loud “I’m telling Mom.” And he always did. 

I miss my son. But he would be glad to know I live with another policeman these days. I call her the gratitude police. My wife Becki quickly points out that whatever is bothering or stressing me is most likely not nearly as bad as I imagine. Better yet, she likes to point me in the direction of thankfulness. 

Thankfulness mitigates and sometimes disappears life’s little difficulties. If nothing else, a gratitude attitude puts everything in a different, better perspective. 

Sometimes, I wonder if she secretly has a theology degree and she’s keeping it hidden to protect my fragile masculinity. She’s smart like that.

At any rate, one-day last week, I was walking across the parking lot, and it dawned on me that my back hadn’t hurt in a while. Truthfully, certain activities like vacuuming, folding clothes while standing, and using a weed eater tend to make me uncomfortable. Still, it is a million times better than when I hurt it last August. 

When I realized that I was walking without any pain, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I stopped there on the spot and spent a few minutes thanking God for my blessing. 

I’m thankful for my time with the bad word police. I’m grateful for the influence of my own gratitude officer even now.  

What do you have to be thankful for? As the old hymn written in 1897 by Johnson Oatmen, Jr. says, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

Indeed. And as the good book says, ”Come, let’s shout joyfully to the Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! Let’s enter his presence with thanksgiving; let’s shout triumphantly to him in song. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.“ (Psalms‬ 95‬:1‬-3‬ CSB‬‬)