Here’s something to remember when things aren’t going right.

There have been two periods in my life when I was so stressed that I worried about getting Bell’s Palsy (paralysis of one side of the face), just like my friend did when his stress got out of control.

One of those periods was when I lived in Greenville, SC.

Getting informational interviews had been easy for me in Greenville; parlaying one of those meetings into a long-term job, however, had been another thing altogether—the only gig I rustled up disappeared abruptly when my employer realized she couldn’t afford me.

Thinking another job would come through soon, my sister lent me money to carry me over. But when that cash got close to running out, so were my options for staying in town (and going grocery shopping, for that matter).

Church helped me stay somewhat mentally intact, and I went every Sunday religiously (even the Sunday I dipped into my laundry quarters to buy gas to get there). During one service, I sat on the opposite side of the chapel from my normal spot and a cloth banner grabbed my attention:

If “thank you” is the only prayer you pray, that would be enough.

I listened to Rev. King that Sunday, I promise, but kept glancing at the banner, which gave me the distinct feeling it wasn’t in my face for nothing. I believed, and still do, that the more we express gratitude, the more likely we’ll have things to be grateful for. But feeling close to a nervous breakdown at the time, “thank you” was nothing I was in the mood for saying.

Or could say, really.

If “thank you” is the only prayer you pray, that would be enough.

That damn banner blurb went home with me, to the kitchen with me, to the shower with me, to bed with me…. In other words, it stuck around until I resolved to do something about it, which I did. But I still couldn’t say “thank you” after making my resolution, so I joined Greenville in Harmony, a four-part a cappella singing group, instead.

If you think about it, that idea wasn’t so crazy. We say “I love you” through hugs and kisses, giving gifts, and acts of service, so it stands to reason that there are different ways of saying “thank you.” And while the Bible recommends giving thanks through songs of praise and worship, I chose to “make a joyful noise unto the LORD” through barbershop music (with choreography!).

I think the Lord was fine with my choice, because after five to six weeks of singing (with jazz hands), something BIG to be grateful for appeared in my life:

A way to get my butt out of Greenville and live in various sisters’ houses rent-free.

Maybe it was me planning this post, but the concept of practicing gratitude has been on my mind a lot recently. And given the “power and pleasure of being grateful,” (to borrow Oprah’s words) I’d like to talk about it more.

But in a few weeks.

Today, I’ll stick to my point:

If “thank you” is the only prayer you pray, that would be enough.

And remember, the Lord seems flexible about how you say “thank you” if the intent to say it is there.