A podcast I listened to this week introduced a new-to-me concept in gratitude. That of being BEHOLDEN. I know, Thanksgiving was so yesterday, but as we continue our holiday season, I plan to build on the discipline of gratitude I’ve felt called to create. There’s nothing like gratitude to get you out of a rut – at least that’s my prayer.
The word BEHOLDEN carries with it the idea of owing or being indebted. It usually carries a negative connotation, as in, “I don’t like to be beholden to anyone.” Even though carrying financial debt is more common than the cold, our fiercely independent culture doesn’t generally like the idea of personal indebtedness. As a general rule, we want to accomplish things on our own and not owe anyone that we can look in the face. If you think these ideals are sounding outdated, think about how difficult it is for you to ask a friend, neighbor, or even family member for help – with anything. Money, a project, a ride somewhere, or an ear to listen. We don’t like admitting that we don’t have everything we need. And community suffers for it.
The give and take of relationships is what oftentimes cements us together.
I don’t mind being indebted to another. It means we are in fellowship. If you have a relationship, be it spouse, friend, or family, that you don’t owe a whole lot (and vice versa); I might argue that it’s not much of a relationship. As we finish up our Thanksgiving celebrating and turn our attention toward Christmas, my heart swells with how BEHOLDEN I am to Jesus. He left the comfort of heaven to be born into a painful and sinful world. I am BEHOLDEN to Him for giving us an example to follow in life and love. I am BEHOLDEN to Jesus for dying a sinless death on the cross so that my sinful life could be saved from eternal separation from God. I am BEHOLDEN to Him for making me right with my Heavenly Father and calling me friend. He saved me, and gave me hope. For that I can never repay Him. And I am BEHOLDEN to Jesus for never asking me to.
Who are you BEHOLDEN to that you still need to thank? List it, express it, write it and rehearse it before Thanksgiving gets too small in the rear view. Lastly, I am BEHOLDEN to you, dear reader, for your kind attention.
Oh, yes! I absolutely agree with you 100%. We need that web of indebtedness that creates community. Even here in the blogoshpere, I feel beholden to someone who reads and comments on my blog, so I go read and comment on theirs, but guess what? I have learned so much by reading others’ blogs and met so many wonderful writers (including YOU!). I would never have had those positive experiences if I hadn’t originally been beholden to other bloggers. That’s just one small example. There are lots of others, but I won’t mention them right now! 🙂
I feel the same way about you, Laurie. Thank you so much!
Beholden. I am a debtor and that’s okay. Thanks for your wise words.
Thank u for reading Esther.
I think beholden is a beautiful word (I tend to enjoy the less used words) 🙂 and I love the way you explained it so practically. And, yes, I am beholden to my husband as well….and to my wonderful savior (of course)!
Thank you for engaging, Jennifer.
Thank you for sharing that. I love how you explained it. I always think of beholden as negative as well.
Thanks for reading Danielle.
Calleen Petersen says
What a beautiful way to look at it. I’ve never thought of it in that way. Visiting from #TeaAndWord.
Thank you, Colleen.
Mummy here and there says
Thought provokibg post. Very true words X #mixitup
Thanks for reading.
Michelle Kellogg says
If I’m beholden to anyone then it is my children, for they truly saved me from the brink of self-destruction. Just by being born and continuing to exist. Having PTSD was excruciating and at times I thought of ending it all. I had my children smiling at me and so happy to see me with their beautiful innocent faces looking up at me, they saved me – every single time. And even though I’m a far from religious person, I do believe in God so you could say I’m beholden to God for putting those precious human beings in my life. #MixitUp
Such a beautiful tribute to your kids. God is good even in the midst of hard things.
Linda Stoll says
Hi Lauren … you’ve painted BEHOLDEN as a beautiful word, an invitation to community, to loving well.
Thanks for reading, Linda.
I hadn’t looked at Beholden this way before. You’ve given me something to ponder! I’m an empty-nester now but had children home with me as a single mom for 20 years. I’ve learned how to just do all on my own and become fiercely independent! Thank you for the nudge to ask God where I’ve been holding back and how to be Beholden.
Thank you for engaging, Lynn!
Beautiful thoughts Lauren! I think this has become easier for me as I’ve gotten older and I’m actually thankful.
Thank you for reading, Shelly. laurensparks.net
Melanie Redd says
What a great word – BEHOLDEN!
Thank you for the reminder to be appreciative, grateful and thankful!
I am BEHOLDEN to you for a good word!
Came over on #tuneintuesday.
I’m linking for my friend Pam at journeytohim.com.
Hope you have a blessed day~
Thanks so much, Melanie. laurensparks.net
Rebecca Jones says
Interesting word study. I think we don’t want to be beholden to people who hold it over our heads, but gratitude is a part of love and it shouldn’t keep score.
I think you are exactly right!
Tea With Jennifer says
Lauren what a thought provoking & challenging post! Especially where relationships are concerned! I have been fiercely independent most of my life, I had to be within the circumstances but of course that is really a facade because Jesus has been there all along & I am beholden to Him for that. 😀
We are all so beholden to Jesus are t we, Jennifer! Thank you for your thoughts.
Mary Geisen says
Beholden–what a beautiful word that leads us to gratitude. You have described it as an invitation and not a curse. Blessings!
Thank you, Mary.
Debbie Kitterman says
Oh, I like this – I had not really ever thought about or tied the word Beholden to the word gratitude, but I like it a lot. Thank you and now I have some food for thought to chew on this week. Blessings
I know! Me too, Debbie. Thanks for reading.