11.18.2008

Gratitude

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." ~William Arthur Ward

I had a really sweet experience last week and this quote expresses it beautifully. I have been teaching an adult Institute-type class [scripture based, just like Institute only with no official Institute credit given] in our ward building on Tuesday mornings for about the past 10 weeks. We have been studying the life of Christ, using the four Gospels in the New Testament.

I was a little nervous to agree to take this on -- for several reasons really. First and foremost, I don't feel like a scriptorian. I really don't. I have learned to love the scriptures through baptism by fire: I admit to having taught [and loved] seminary for 15+ years, a total of 19 classes. I have also taught several Institute classes at the Institute in Vegas. But do I know enough to teach adults and feel confident about it? No. Not at all.

But I love to study and I love learning and I love teaching more than anything. And the person who asked me is someone I love dearly and would do pretty much anything for. So I agreed. And I have thoroughly enjoyed it but still, when Mark asks me how class went, my answer is always the same: "I don't know!! I guess it was fine. Ask someone who was there!"

Last week, a sweet lady in the class called me about mid-week to express her gratitude for the class. She said she had gotten up that day feeling like she was never going to be good enough, that she didn't want to make the effort to go to the class, and why should she bother anyhow. But she did get up and she did go. And she told me that the class that day had made all the difference in the world to her and thanked me for my efforts.

It meant the world to me to hear that someone really liked the class. [shades of Sally Field, right? "You like me! You really like me!"] I shared with her the conversation that Mark and I have every week -- and she told me that my response needed to be that Phyllis had loved it and it had made a world of difference to her.

Mark smiled when I told him that. And I was so grateful to Phyllis, for taking the time to call and let me know that what I did really mattered to her.

And now, I need to do better about expressing the gratitude that really is in my heart for many things. I just need to make sure that I let people know.

Because it matters.

15 comments:

Nat Lud said...

It's always so nice to be the recipient of gratitude! I, too, am trying to be more aware of sharing my thankfulness with others! And i'm sure your class rocks!

Nathan and Carrie Page said...

What an entry! When I think of you, I think of the great teacher you are. I think you will do fantastic and am so excited for the many wonderful experiences you are going to have. I think the world of you.

Nica said...

Are you kidding me? You are just so humble! That makes you a better person than I already thought you could possible be. You have no idea how excited I am to get to go to your class every Tuesday and it breaks my heart we only have one class left. A little selfish on my behave, but I have been dropping my kids off at my moms because I don't want to miss a minute of your class, and I know if I bring them, then I would have to trade with the other moms and miss some of your class. Shows you how horrible I am and how close to perfection you are.
Michael and I don't get to go to sunday school bc we are in the library, but I was telling him I would leave him in there by himself and I would go to Sunday School if you were teaching the class since I like the way you teach and how you teach.
After class each day I go back home and my mom asks me what I learned. I get so excited and tell her everything you taught. She has mention she wants to go with me sometime. So now not only are you affecting me but you are affecting others outside of church... in a spiritual and uplifting way.

I love your class
I love the way you teach
I love the way you make all of us feel like your talking directly to us.
I love how your always happy
I love that you make it so simple for me to understand
I love how you know so much and are willing to share
I love that your in our ward
I love that your a great mother & grandmother
I love our chit chats before class
I love that your a great teacher
I love the fact that you love kids
I love how you make lists for everything
I love how you are always so organized
I love the way you are so humble about teaching (you really are great)
I love that I get to see friends during the week
I love that you read the scriptures in my language
I love your thoughts
I could go on forever with this list.
but most of all
I love that I know you.

I made you a list because I know you like them.
Thank You!

jenjamin said...

That is fabulous! You never really know what your influence will do. As long as you are following the lead of our Heavenly Father and willingly submit to his desires you will then can be used (very cleverly at times) as an effective instrument in the Lords hands. YOU clearly are one of the bigger instruments right now. Your sphere of influence if enormous. However, it is nice to know sometimes that your efforts and actions are influencing others for good. That mystery at times can be overwhelming, I often ask myself as I tuck my delicious children into bed.... "have I made an difference today?". Some days feel so insignificant yet I know I am leaving an imprint somewhere because I am earnestly prayerful every moment of the day that I will fulfill the measure of my creation (in every way) and that I will be led by thy hand in all things. You are amazing. I love your humility, depth and submissiveness. I barely know you yet you have influenced me in a huge way! I am grateful for you!

Emily said...

I'm sure you have no idea just how many lives you have touched through your teaching. Mine is just one of hundreds I'm sure. Having you as a seminary teacher (and a friend) taught me and touched me so much. When people talk about their heros, or people who have really influenced their lives, I always think of you. Like I said - you have no idea how much of a difference you've made in my life, and I really truly thank you for that! You are such an amazing woman and I can only hope to be half as wonderful as you are someday!

Chris and Tara Mason said...

I am guilty of both - not showing gratitude and wrapping gifts but forgetting to give them! I'm awful and need to be better! This is a great reminder that I need to show appreciation so that people feel that all of their hard work is validated (and that I need to get Natalie's stinking birthday gift in the mail)!

Jennifer said...

I love this post! You are such a great teacher. You were a wonderful seminary teacher. You have a gift for teaching others. Thank you for sharing that gift with so many.

Christy Robertson said...

The Robertson Family is very thankful for Sister Mason! Every time we sing or hear "Scripture Power" it reminds us of you! You are dearly loved!

Phogles said...

yes! gratitude matters! saying something - anything - can make a person's whole day (week?) and we all remember such simple words of kindness for YEARS! I think gratitude is actually an antidote for sorrow and misery.

Natalie Scott said...

It's so important to be grateful. It's essential to happiness. I am grateful for you, Jan. And though I'm unable to attend your class, I already know it's wonderful because you teach it.

You are one of the most grateful people I know, always expressing your gratitude for everything. Thank you for your wonderful example!

Ashley said...

thank you for your lasting impact through your teaching moments; i will never forget what a blessing it was to have you as my seminary teacher my freshman year of high school. thank you! thank you!

SweetmamaK said...

I love this post. You were a great teacher when I knew you OVER 20 years ago, I'm sure you have only excelled! I love your posts, they continue to inspire me to do better. I am envious of the people in your ward, they get you all the time.

100 Percent Cottam said...

that's awesome, mama, thanks for the reminder. i'm grateful for YOU!

MiaKatia said...

It is so nice to feel appreciated! I am sure that there are others like Phyllis who love and appreciate your class.

Suzanne said...

Gratitude is the most wonderful gift we can receive or give. I loved this post. Thanks for reminding me of the power of expressing thanks and being grateful.