On November 20, 2020, President Russell M. Nelson offered a prayer of gratitude and also invited everyone, everywhere, to do two important things to help heal our fractured relationships and communities:
- Turn social media into your own gratitude journal for the next seven days
- Say a prayer of thanks
My experience expressing gratitude on social media was a wonderful learning experience.
The first day I expressed gratitude for my wife, because she is the most important person in my life, and she had made my life wonderful.
The second day I expressed gratitude for having found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 35 years ago, in Italy, when two missionaries from Utah, elder Lynn Forbes and Craig Stout, taught me the gospel. Every other major blessing in my life has come from that initial step, accepting the teachings of the church and being baptized.
The third day was about the Savior, for what He did for me and for each one of us, even for those who don’t believe in Him. Jesus Christ came to this earth to teach, to be an example, but especially to carry out the Atonement, because only He had the power to lay down His life and take it up again. Only He could redeem us from our sins, and because He had the power of redemption and had no debt with the divine justice, he could pay the debt for those who repent.
The fourth day I expressed gratitude for my ancestors. None of them were part of the handcarts pioneer companies who crossed the plains of America. None of them came to America in the Mayflower and none of them was in this life a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. However, they were good people, and they did the best they could with the knowledge they had. They worked and loved, raised their families and fought in wars, faced challenges and had moments of joy.
And the good things that they learned in their lives and that they passed down to their children became part of my heritage and prepared me to receive and accept the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful to them, and I know that I will meet them again, after this life, and I will have the opportunity of thanking them personally.
The fifth day was about the blessing of becoming a parent and about my children. Parenting has been a growing experience over the years that has taught me many important lessons, and I am still learning. Our children have grown up to be good people, each one of them very different from the others, and all very independent. Some of them have already started their own families and so the cycle has began again. We need to remember that “children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3)
The sixth day was about friends. Friends enrich our lives in many ways, and I wanted to express gratitude for them, for whatever they did or are still doing to make our lives better, even when they don’t realize the effect they may have. Some friends are like family, some we have known for a long time, while others are new; with some we share happy moments and with others we cry together, but life is better because of good friends.
And the seventh day I felt that there was another very important group of people, our extended family, our cousins, uncles , aunts, etc. They all live in Italy and therefore we don’t see them very often, but we love them and they help us feel connected to our roots, our native country and family.
While choosing pictures of our relatives, on this side of the veil or on the other, or of our friends, I was taken into a journey of rediscovery of the importance of people in our lives. There is really nothing more important. Material possessions and even the blessing of nature are necessary, but people are what really makes a difference in our lives.
Sometimes, even our own family members or friends may be a challenge, they are not perfect, and we aren’t either, and therefore we don’t share only great and happy moments with them. We may have had disagreements or we may have not seen them for some time, or even a long time, for whatever reason. But when we think of them, while reviewing some old pictures of when we were together, it’s easier to feel love for them, and remember what unites us, instead than what may temporarily divide us, including time and distance.
I want to conclude by thanking God for a prophet and for his counsels, including this last one, about focusing on gratitude for a week. It was a great experience and a blessing, which made me feel more connected to many people who are important in my life.
- Watch President Russell M. Nelson’s special video message that he shared with the world on November 20, 2020.
- Visit GiveThanks.ChurchofJesusChrist.org to read the backstory of President Nelson’s message.
- Read the article “The Prophet Releases a Message on the Healing Power of Gratitude.”