This past weekend my wife and I celebrated my 30th birthday. While money is sparse these days, the gifts are not few.
When I reflected back on the past 30 years of my life, I was delighted to discover that I have everything that I have longed for in life. God has given me a beautiful wife, an amazing son, and I am surrounded by wonderful family and friends. These are gifts far more valuable than any invention of man. Technology gets old and expires, food molds and rots, mechanics break down and wear out, buildings need constant repair and maintenance. But people last forever.
For the past 2 days my wife and I have been reading through Ecclesiastes, and it has been reminding us of what is important in life. Never before have I been so thankful for the luxuries that I do have. In addition to the priceless relationships that bring me joy, I have a clean home for shelter, running water that can be changed to hot or cold, a wardrobe of clothing to keep me comfortable, 2 vehicles that go from point A to point B, countless stores for shopping, food available at my convenience, the helpfulness of technology- internet and TV, and the ability to create wealth- a job in the medical field. Not only that, but I have the privilege of going to a school of higher education, access to health care, and an avenue for justice provided by the privilege of living in America.
While our culture teaches us to look up the “ladder” as our measure of prosperity, I am starting to look down the rungs below me. Even while it seems our money is tighter than ever, I am growing to appreciate the incredible wealth in my life. There are people who do not have adequate clothing or shelter. Some wonder where their next meal will come from, while others do not have a hospital within a day’s journey. Even in the days when I was growing up and my family struggled to make it, we still, in our American poverty, had more than what the majority of the rest of the world has. We had access to food, healthcare, justice and shelter. We had friends and family and the ability to work.
So as I continue to look back and reflect, I continue to be thankful. My life is filled with fullness and blessing. My only regret is that I have not understood the magnitude of all that I do have until now. For the last 29 years, I have lived wishing for something different. When would I get lucky and hit it big with all my dreams and desires? Why did good fortune always seem to escape my grasp? The reality is that I had hit it big with my dreams and desires. Good fortune and fullness of life have overwhelmed me. I did not know that my selfishness and my coveting of the blessings of others ruled my life as I compare it with theirs. Thus, in many ways, I lived being unthankful too many times. It was a way of life that kept me from truly knowing all the good that was already in my life.
Today I live finally starting to learn the joy of being content. I am satisfied and grateful for all that I have. I am learning to count the blessings that have been given to me instead of counting the blessings of others. This view of life is a lens that has brought clarity to the fact that life is short and should be lived to the fullest- no matter how many or few my days may be.