Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Truly Blessed

Truly Blessed
As we approach Christmas day I find myself looking back on this year and seeing just how blessed I really am. Counting your blessings is nothing new. People have been talking about it for centuries, perhaps since the dawn of civilization. I wonder though, how often in our fast paced, gotta have it now society do we really pause to count our blessings.
In one of my favorite Christmas movies “White Christmas"Bing Crosby sings a little song about counting your blessings. This song is actually my favorite in the movie, more so than the song which shares the same name as the title or any other in the entire film. To borrow an expression from my friend Travis McClain if you were raised by heathen wolves and have never seen “White Christmas" well I have to question your upbringing but more importantly you should watch this Christmas classic, it’s from a golden age of cinema and music.
So in keeping with the Christmas theme let’s talk a little about why we’re so blessed, why I feel like I’m blessed and why that might truly be enough for most of us for Christmas.
 Let’s start with the basics. If you are reading this, as far as I know you are still alive (I don’t know how else you’d be reading it and thinking about that is kinda creepy). The precious gift of life bestowed upon each of us alone is both miraculous and perhaps one of the greatest gifts of all.
Moving on, let’s talk about health. You’re alive aren’t you? Yes I know some of us have all manner of ailments, terminal illness or conditions. I don’t mean to make light of any of it. I’m blessed enough to be in very good health this year, the best health I’ve been in years. How are you doing? If you’re not so great consider that much of the rest of the world outside the USA may not be as healthy as you are. Imagine if you lived in a country where something as simple as penicillin was nearly impossible to get, or where you had to sleep under a mosquito net at night and pray you didn’t get malaria.  If you’re able to hug, and greet your loved ones this Christmas you are blessed with at least some semblance of health.
This brings me to my next point, family. I have my family. I have a wonderful wife, whom I love dearly. I often hear people complaining about marriage and I just don’t get it. Yes there are times we don’t agree and we about once a year get into a heated debate or argument. We never yell and we don’t fight. Maybe our marriage is different, I don’t know, but I truly am blessed with a wonderful wife to share my life with. Both my parents are still alive, I get to spend time around this Christmas with each of them. All of my siblings are still alive and I look forward to seeing them, making jokes with them and visiting this year. For the first time in eight years all my siblings live within a 15 minute drive of one another. This too is a great blessing. There are nieces and nephews to see and play with and even Syd’s grandparents who are in reasonably good health and in their 90’s. If you have any family at all to share this Christmas with, you are blessed.
Moving on there’s country. If you think about it, if you were born here in the USA, you hit the lottery, by comparison to many other places. There are some in the political realm as well as others outside it that would have you believe that our country is in poor shape, I disagree. Yes we have our issues, but would you rather live somewhere else? Really? Come on and think about that for a minute, most of the freedoms we enjoy including the one I’m exercising to write this blog, are but a dream in other countries. I’m not going to bother going through the bill of rights here, and I’m not going to enter into a political debate about this group of people versus the other. I’m simply going to say that no matter what side of any issue you’re on, this country is still pretty  fantastic! If you live here in the USA, you are blessed.
I have a job. Yes that’s something to be thankful for and count as a blessing in these difficult economic times. I will admit that there are days when I gripe about my job. There are even days when I wonder what it would have been like to do something else. I sometimes consider if I should finish my degree and pursue something else. I think though that this drive to be better than I am is just part of who I am and this blog is about being happy with what you have. So let’s face it, if you are working you are blessed. You’re not scrambling over a border fence, hopping on a raft or begging in the streets. Again I don’t mean to belittle anyone, I certainly have empathy for those who are struggling here and in other parts of the world but whether you are sitting in a corporate office or flipping burgers in a fast food establishment you are blessed if you are able to work and have a job that provides you with at least some income. And if you’re not working by choice then you are truly very blessed indeed.
I have a home, a roof over my head. Again I don’t mean to drag this out but I think many of us take for granted having a place to call home. Every night I have a warm bed to sleep in, a pillow to rest my head on and a roof over my head. I have doors that lock (to hopefully keep people out that aren’t supposed to be in my home), running water and electricity. All of those things are rare in many parts of the world. Right now having a home that’s still standing is rare in some parts of the country, if you don’t agree take a look at the folks of Joplin, MO, where vicious tornadoes destroyed most of the town and the homes this past spring. If you have a roof over your head, consider yourself blessed this Christmas season.
I have my faith. I’m not going to preach to you except to say, I have the salvation and peace that can only be found in Christ. My faith is the rock I lean on in hard times and stand triumphantly upon in the good times. I often pray about difficult things, but I also try to remember to say thanks for the little things as well. My faith gets me through the bad and the good, and I try to be mindful of it and thank God for it in both types of situations. If you have faith, especially in Christ at Christmas time, you are blessed indeed.
I was sitting around last night (I drafted this on Monday) and my wife was preparing to do Christmas shopping, we already covered what I really want for Christmas in a previous blog, she was asking what “material” thing to get me. I couldn’t really give her an answer. I really feel so blessed and fortunate this year that there is nothing in a store or shop that she could buy me that would make my life more complete or happier. I have all that I need.  Sure there are gadgets and toys that I want to play with. Those gadgets and toys however new and shiny will fade, wear out, become obsolete or break or I will lose interest in them. The things I am blessed with are the really important gifts, the ones that are permanent and lasting.
This does not mean that I’m implying that any of us should stop buying, should stop shopping or consuming. Our frenzied need to acquire things, upgrade old things and consume commodities drives our country’s (and in many cases the world’s) economy. I’m simply saying if you pause to truly take stock of what you have already, do you actually need anything but that which you are already so blessed with this Christmas?
I could continue counting blessings that most of us take for granted, clean water, food that is not contaminated, access to healthcare professionals, the list goes on and on. I will instead close this entry by simply saying this; we should all follow Bing’s advice in that song from “White Christmas”, “when you’re tired and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep, then you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”
Merry Christmas Everyone

1 comment:

  1. Every night, that is how I fall asleep. Saying my prayers which includes being thankful for what I have. I am blessed to have my husband next to me, when we have friends our age who have recently lost theirs. I am thankful to have my children sleeping peacefully in their rooms, there are many who are praying to have a family. I am thankful for my husband's job so that I can stay home and raise our children. There are so many things I am thankful for. I lift God up when things are good so He can pick me up when they aren't. I could go on, you covered the basics. Living with a chronically-terminally ill husband, I've learned a thing or two about sweating the small stuff. People who complain about the seemingly little things just haven't had that one key event to really put their lives in perspective. In that respect, they are innocent for they do not know better. Merry Christmas.