Being thankful for people is a game changer in relationships.
The antonym for being thankful for someone would be taking that person for granted.
Warning: personal/ridiculous story about to come from my very distant past.
When I was about 5 or 6 years old, during one of the cold months (pre my understanding of the calendar), my sister and I had a massive fight. Not exactly a shocking experience. Anyone who knew us at that point will probably snicker, or maybe grimace.
She was an over attentive, bossy take charge type, and I was that annoyingly stubborn, lazy daydreamer type. We rarely agreed on anything, and when we did we would agree so forcefully/loudly that we still got in trouble for fighting.
Anyway, back to my story. I don’t remember the exact events or what was fought over. I just remember a quick conversation with my grandmother over the situation. My parents were out on a romantic date, and my grandmother was watching us. The conversation happened in her house in Rochester, NH as she zipped my winter coat for me in the breezeway by the front door, which is totally irrelevant, but the memory makes me miss that house a little.
Me: I wish she was not my sister. I wish she were dead.
Me: I wouldn’t miss her. I would rather be alone.
Grammy: [insert major gasp and disgusted clicking] Don’t talk like that about your sister! You would be completely heart broken if anything bad ever happened to her.
Needless to say, I was not thankful for my sister in that moment. I mostly remember the sensation of guilt that washed over me as I realized how serious my words must have been, judging the seriousness completely on how long my grandmother’s gasp lasted.
What I didn’t understand at age 5 or 6 was that my feelings in that moment did not erase what an amazing sister she was and the impact she was making on my life. Sadly, seeing the bigger picture of a relationship is usually easier in retrospect than in a particular moment. From my current perspective, I spend a lot of my time missing my sister, because my grandmother was right. I due in fact get lonely now that she's left me and lives many states away.
Relationships have a lot of ups and downs: times of companionship/loneliness, agreements/disagreements, acceptance/rejection. Looking long term and recognizing the big picture of someone’s impact on your life and being THANKFUL for that is what changes our perspective during the harder moments. It is impossible to take someone for granted when you are thankful for him or her. It is impossible to hate someone when you are thankful for him or her. Ultimately, choosing to be thankful for the people in our lives is a way we can praise and love God, recognizing that He was the One that planned out the relationship in the first place.