As my wife and I listened to President Russell M. Nelson’s Nov. 20 global message on “the healing power of gratitude,” I jotted down a few notes and impressions as the Prophet spoke — and prayed — during his 11-minute videotaped presentation.
He invited listeners to use social media to #GiveThanks, with the digital expressions to double as one’s personal journal of gratitude.
When it comes to public-facing social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like, I’m more of a looker and a lurker. I haven’t posted much for several years, opting instead to follow and check in on family and friends.
But I’ll return — and make this recapping of my notes of President Nelson’s invitations and insights as the latest page in my gratitude journal.
Man of science, of faith and of more
Fittingly self-described as both a man of science and a man of faith, President Nelson gave instances to underscore both labels.
In my notes, I added two more descriptions — “man of gratitude” and “man of example.”
In limited instances over the years, I have been with him in conferences, devotionals, seminars, ministry travels, social settings and interviews — sometimes as a journalist, other times as an event participant. In all those times, I have witnessed Russell M. Nelson as both a believer and a doer, one who mentors and ministers. In short: an example.
His Nov. 20 message was no different, with inspiring, exemplary expressions of gratitude.
Healing power of gratitude
President Nelson emphasized how gratitude helps “soothe our feelings” and gives “a greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life.”
As the Prophet spoke of dealing with deaths of his first wife, Sister Dantzel Nelson, and two daughters with a deep sense of gratitude, I wrote down “Dad” — my own father passing at age 64 after a four-year battle with cancer two-plus decades ago.
Gratitude and understanding have tempered my mourning and missing him over the years. I’m grateful for Dad’s influence in my life, for the eternal hope and perspectives of God’s plan of salvation, and for a mortal father who has directed me to my Heavenly Father.
Invitation to inundate
As previously mentioned, President Nelson’s first of two invitations was to turn social media into one’s own #GiveThanks journal over a seven-day period. “Post every day about what you are grateful for, who you are grateful for and why you are grateful,” he said.
This came two years after an invitation at the October 2018 general conference women’s session to take a 10-day “fast” from social media. The Prophet called on listeners to change course, channel the good of social media with an inundation of gratitude.
Just as I wrote a note of President Ezra Taft Benson’s 1988 call for Latter-day Saints to “flood the earth with the Book of Mormon,” President Nelson offered an equivalent expression: “Working together, we can flood social media with a wave of gratitude that reaches the four corners of the earth.”
We since have seen a growing swell of #GiveThanks posts and images on public social media. And I have found myself joining others in being more expressive in giving thanks and acknowledging appreciations through other, more personal means — in small-group threads, direct messages, texts and emails.
Invitation to unite
President Nelson’s second invitation was to “unite in thanking God through daily prayer.”
Often when we hear messages of giving thanks and having gratitude, we tend to think of it in terms of one’s demeanor, one’s attitude — maintaining a sense of appreciation and gratefulness to others.
Through his message, President Nelson pointed listeners to direct our heartfelt expressions of gratitude to Heavenly Father, He who is the source of our lives and our blessings, all light and true joy.
Prayer of gratitude
The Prophet then modeled for us in how to pray with gratitude. He mediated with God on our behalf in a prayer of thanksgiving and entreaty that resonated with all — and with the one.
A Prophet’s prayer heard by the masses is a relatively rare moment. More regularly, our senior Brethren speak to us in conferences, devotionals and similar meetings; when they speak of prayer, they teach principles and practices.
They talk of listening to fellow Prophets and Apostles pray for the members, the missionaries, the local leaders, the youth, the families, the Church, the world as a whole.
But rarely do we get to hear them pray. Those more public prayers usually come at dedications and special events.
But on Nov. 20, President Nelson prayed to God — for us, for others, for all. His prayer was for all to hear — and for all to follow that example. Thankfully, we have in the scriptures recorded prayers of other prophets throughout the ages, as well as prayers and supplications of the Savior.
There are other notes I made while listening to President Nelson to fill subsequent pages of my personal gratitude journal, just as there are many pages being filled about the who and the what I’m grateful for and the why I am grateful.
But on this journal page, I #GiveThanks — for the message and the messenger.