‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” —Alice Walker
Every morning, when I get out of bed and my first foot hits the floor, I say, “Thank.” Then the other foot hits the floor, and I say, “You.” And all the way into the bathroom, I am whispering, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” A pitter-patter of gratitude as I begin my day. I began this practice when I was filming Touched by an Angel in Utah. I don’t remember where I read or heard about it, but as soon as I discovered this practice, I knew it was something I wanted to integrate into my daily routine. And I’ve done it every day ever since.
I’ve now added another routine to remind me to give thanks throughout the day. Each time I wash my hands and feel the water run over my skin, I say it again. “Thank you. Thank you, God.” It helps me take a step back from whatever is happening in my day to remember my blessings. It’s a reminder for me to acknowledge God; and from that space, I am brought into a place of strength and wholeness and fullness. I find when I attach an attitude to an action—something that I am bound to do throughout the day—it helps me remember the attitude more. And so every time I wash my hands, my perception of whatever is going on around me instantly changes.
I think that practice spoke to me while I was in Utah because I was so grateful during that season of my life. As a woman of faith, I was so grateful to be cast as an angel on TV delivering a message of God’s love.
I was so moved by letters I received from people who shared how a particular episode impacted them and deeply touched their lives. Because I was the face of the show, many of these letters were addressed to me, but I would often bring them to set to share with my cast and crew. We would laugh and cry and hug, hearing the messages from these viewers, so grateful for the opportunity to be part of something that was clearly bigger than all of us. As my beautiful costar Della used to say, “It’s a God thing, baby.”
One time, I was at a bookstore in Los Angeles doing a signing for a book I had written, and a young woman came up to me, tears in her eyes and fresh scars on her wrists. And she told me the most remarkable story. She hadn’t had an easy life, and one night she found herelf full of despair and ready to take her own life. She slit her wrists and slid down the bathroom wall, filled with anger at her family because she felt abandoned and alone, feelings that had plagued her throughout her life. And now, here she was, feeling abandoned and alone, again. She cried out to God, “Even now, there’s no one here! There’s no one here.” And she let her head sink to her knees, waiting for death to take her.
But then she heard something from the living room. It was the television. She didn’t even remember turning it on. Touched by an Angel was on, and it was the angel revelation scene. And this woman heard the words of Monica the angel come wafting through the bathroom door: “You are not alone. You are never alone. Don’t you know that God loves you?”
When she heard those words, she lifted her head. She felt those words were just for her. And she picked up a towel and wrapped up her wrists and called an ambulance.
I stared at her in shock and gave her a hug, tears flooding my eyes, and all I could say was, “Thank you, God.” Thank you, God. Over and over. I was so humbled by what God was able to accomplish with that little show of ours.
I believe God is willing and able to use any of us to do His work. We each have to slow down so we can hear His whisper. Find the stillness, look for ways to do small acts of kindness and look for ways to love.
After the show wrapped, I missed my cast and crew family of course. But I also missed playing the angel and inhabiting her spirit. Playing Monica for many hours a day, over many years, taught me so much. She made me a better friend, a better listener, a more faithful servant. I enjoyed living in her skin, and I think she brought out the best of me. She was able to truly, fully show up for someone. She listened, not just with her ears but also with her heart. I have learned when people come to you with a heart-load of hurt, they aren’t always looking for solutions or answers. It’s often enough just to listen and love. When people feel they are truly heard, healing can happen.
I know this to be true in my own life. Taking the time to be gracious, to say thank you, to be grateful for waking up each day, for family and friends. Reflecting on all that is good in the world can reframe your day. You can’t be grateful and miserable in the same thought.
Sometimes it feels as if there is so much darkness and that our world is full of disagreement. In those moments, it helps keep me focused to remember the goodness in the world. And with all the noise and negative headlines it’s easy to forget there is so much kindness and compassion all around us.
I named my company LightWorkers with the intention of creating uplifting content to help remind people about the stories of goodness and hope that underpin everything. It’s through LightWorkers that my team and I desire to spread the light of God’s hope and to shine His light. Last month alone we had more than 313 million video views across our social platforms. These numbers reveal that people are hungry for stories of hope and want to be reminded that we are so much stronger together than we are divided.
It’s a noisy world out there with awful and scary things happening daily in the news. Yes, unfortunately, bad things do happen but let us not forget there are good people everywhere doing good things. Let us make more noise for the good guys with grateful hearts.