Sunday, August 10, 2014

Gratitude from the Homeless

Two days ago, my wife and I bought a street newspaper, sold mostly by the homeless. On the front page where I usually see articles about the poor or inadequate housing, was a headline that read “Attitude of Gratitude.” Inside were thirty expressions of  thanksgiving mostly by those who are homeless or homeless until recently. Two things struck me: (1) It is mid-summer and not the “Thanksgiving” season. (2) You don’t expect such expressions from homeless people.

From the center pages, here is a sampling of what I found: “Shorty” is thankful for God, the hospital, his friends and those who buy the newspaper. Sam is thankful for his dog, the newspaper, and his customers. Candy is thankful for a regular customer who gave her a big coat and boots last winter. Otherwise, she says she would have never been able to keep selling the paper. Clint is thankful for now having his own place and for getting his tooth fixed by Dr. Harrell. Susan is thankful she no longer hates herself. George is thankful for people who believed in him when lots of others did not. Almost all of them were thankful for the opportunity to sell the newspaper and most mentioned their customers.

Was this a clever trick just to get us to keep us buying the paper? I don’t think so. I believe what I read were simple expressions from the hearts of people who have known life’s challenges but are still grateful. I believe I was hearing from people who have a lot to complain about, but are choosing to give thanks.

What do you think? Can we learn something from these folks? I think so. I, also, have my challenges. But I think they are teaching me to be thankful for the bed I will sleep in tonight, for the doctor I will see tomorrow, and for the car that will take me there in comfort on a humid day. You get the idea. I think they are reminding me to be grateful for blessings in my life that I sometimes hardly notice and surely showing me not to take my family or friends for granted.  I think they are telling me to be thankful for all of you who read these thoughts each week and add your own (which I hope you will do now). 

Next time I buy a paper, I am going to thank the person who sells it to me.


  1. I appreciate your post today. At the beginning of the summer, my family set out to fill a poster board with 1000 things we are grateful for. We got a good start but it is now sitting somewhere in our house. We will pick it up again and hang it somewhere we will always see it so we can each at to it each day.

  2. This is a great post. I have been trying lately to wake up in the morning and while I'm in the kitchen, I will thank God for all the simple things he has given me. It has helped me to not lose my faith in the big situations going on in my life. Tom thank you for your heart to share these post each week. They help so much.

  3. God is so timely, as is His use of you Tom. Dana S. and I were just talking of this subject yesterday; and now you remind me,
    I am so blessed in my life, yet I find it so easy to complain rather than give thanks. I pray for change. You are an inspiration to us all as you "run" the race. Hmm. I believe that the "Attitude of Gratitude" sermon is on a cassette tape somewhere. Thanks so much!

  4. thank you Tom for these posts. I met a homeless man last weekend too, a 35 year old man who was in a wheelchair. I helped him abit and he was so thankful. And when he gets well he wants to also help the homeless. We don't have much for them here. It does make me more thankful for what I do have.

  5. Thankfulness is a choice. I need that daily reminder that I do have a choice. I am so encouraged that those that have so little can still choose gratitude. I am inspired to stay committed to giving thanks in all circumstances, there is always something to give thanks to God for, Always!

  6. All of your comments move me to stay focused on my blessings and the many reasons I have to be grateful. I am thankful for you and your thoughts.