Attorney Suzanne ShinnThis writing may be a bit premature for the Thanksgiving season, but several things have happened within the last seven to ten days and the above statement “gratitude costs you nothing” is a phrase that kept coming up in my mind over and over again. I wish I could take credit for that phrase but it is not my own, however, this phrase reminds me of a writer in the Bible that wrote:

“Be thankful, IN ALL THINGS” (emphasis mine); and

“I have learned how to abased (be lacking) and I how to abound (be increasing), and in ALL things I have learned how to be content in whatever state I am in.” (emphasis mine)

These two statements were written by Paul, a man credited with writing as much as 2/3 of the New Testament and often times from prison, while in chains, in the worst of all circumstances, even at times chained to a Roman guard, after being beaten, and they even tried to stone him to death! But even through all of these events he had a grateful heart. I’m not sure that I could have written, “Rejoice always! And again I say rejoice!” from the depths of a prison cell filled with raw sewage (that’s putting it mildly), not to mention the food was not likely brought in from the 5 star hotel down the street. Even so, he found that a grateful heart could lift him even from the worst situations and free him (both figuratively and literally) from the earthly chains that were put upon him. (One account in the book of Acts Paul and Silas were “praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them, suddenly there was a great earthquake, shaking the very foundations of the prison; and all at once, the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened.”—But no one left and as the jailer was about to fall on his own sword, knowing he would be killed anyway for allowing all of them to escape, Paul pointed out that none of them had left. And that very night all of their lives changed-forever-because two men were singing praises and had grateful hearts despite the fact that they were in prison bound in chains.)

During the last two weeks we have watched events unfold in one of our “sister states”, Louisiana, caused by flooding. In watching the interview, one’s heart is touched., I have witnessed one person after another that lost everything, being interviewed and saying how grateful they are that they escaped, that they have family and friends that have offered places to stay, to help clear out and rebuild. They seem, at the center of everything, mostly shocked and devastated, but within the very core of their being….they muster some gratitude for something…mostly for a second chance at life.

I don’t think we realize how encouraging we can be to ourselves and each other when we simply find something to be grateful for. I also believe that God gave each of us the capacity to be grateful and in being grateful two things happen:

  1. We turn our focus away from what we think others should be doing FOR US; and
  2. We turn our focus away from what we can or cannot do for OURSELVES.

The end result of having a grateful attitude…we turn our focus ONTO WHAT GOD IS DOING or HAS DONE for us. So in this day and age when people and circumstances can seem hopeless I encourage you to reflect on how blessed you are to live in this wonderful, free country. Or, even better, simply let someone know how grateful you are for him or her. It lifts everyone’s spirits. There is no price tag for a head lifted or a heart soaring from words of hope, encouragement and gratefulness.

At Bond and Botes, our attorneys and staff enjoy offering hope and encouragement for those with financial issues and other legal problems. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our offices to schedule an appointment and let us help you.

Suzanne Carlson Shinn
Written by Suzanne Carlson Shinn

Suzanne Shinn is a shareholder of several of the Bond & Botes Law Offices throughout Alabama and Mississippi. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and a Juris Doctorate from the Birmingham School of Law. She joined the Bond & Botes team in 1992 as its first associate attorney and has been helping clients navigate the bankruptcy process ever since. Read her full bio here.

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