A long time ago I read a story about two little girls turning pages in a catalog shortly before Christmas. Thinking back, I realize it was a good example of life, showing how perspective can change how we see the everyday blessings we enjoy. These two little girls were inside their warm home during a blustery cold snowy day outside. They sat on the floor near the hearth of a crackling warm fire and entertained themselves by looking at pictures in some catalogs that had just arrived in the mail. The older one, around 7 years old, was turning pages and pointing at various things she liked. She was saying “I want Santa to bring me this…and this…and this.” The younger girl, around age 3 was also turning pages but as she pointed at different pictures, she said, “I have this…and this..and this!” I have always remembered this because it details how we arrive in the world grateful for all things given to us, but then as time passes we grow so accustomed to receiving things, without realizing it, we begin to want more and more and more!
Today is a good day and my heart is full. I am content and happy and grateful. We went to church this morning and sang wonderful old time hymns. Everyone must have enjoyed the familiarity of these hymns today because we practically raised the rafters of our church with the volume of our voices. Afterwards we stopped at a delicious little taco shop (Torchys Tacos) and ordered breakfast tacos. Yum! I got to sit next to my handsome husband at the taco bar and just enjoyed being in his presence. As time marches on I find that I want to savor every single moment the two of us have been given to be together, because one just never knows.
Like most people in this life I have had disappointments and unfulfilled dreams. I did not get a life like my Grandmothers had where they lived in a small, rural community surrounded by their children and grandchildren. Because I was a part of their life’s picture, I grew up assuming that when I got old, I too, would live like they did with many of my Grandchildren visiting our home and sitting around our Christmas tree every year, but life didn’t dish that up for me! In modern times, we are a very mobile society and my family is as mobile as they come. As it has turned out, I didn’t get to live near all my children, nor near our only two Grandchildren. But, thankfully, we do enjoy having one of our children here in town. He is the blessing God granted us so we can know how it feels to hop in the car on a moments notice and meet him and his fiancee’ for dinner, or for them to stop by for a quick visit. He and she are here every holiday so Al and I always have some semblance of family around our table. Thank you God for small (big) blessings.
Frequently, I see pictures upon pictures of grandchildren and Grandparents on fb who are routinely enjoying life together….three generations, always communing as happy well connected family’s. Interestingly, I am happy for my friends who get frequent contact with their offspring. I understand the joy that must come with that.
A long time ago, I learned how to let go of the 7 year old girl within me who yearned for this and this and this. I decided that it was destructive to my inner peace to want what was not ever going to happen. So, I tuned into my three year old self and focused on the facts of the blessings I do have in this life. I was soon saying, “I have this, and this and this….” As a child, I had wonderful Grandmothers who I dearly loved who dearly loved me back. I was blessed with the most amazing Mother who embodied the most fabulous mixture of perfect motherly imperfection. I learned a lot through her journey in life because she shared the good AND the bad with me. We always had an open door of communication. I also hit the all time lottery pay off when I met and married my husband of nearly 45 years because he loves me exactly as I am, worts and all! Isn’t that all any of us want in this life?……to be loved and cherished exactly as we are?
We have a comfortable home, food on the table, and there is always love in the air. How could I dare mourn the things I wanted but did not get in this life? The lacks in our life are every bit as important to our growth of character as the blessings are because it is through our lacks and lesssons where we learn to appreciate what we DO have, and all that God has blessed us with..
Frankly said, we must experience thirst to appreciate the gift of water don’t we? We have to be hungry to appreciate the blessing of food. We need to be exhausted to appreciate a nice soft bed. We need to have been ignored and have had our feelings hurt in order to feel and embrace the love and joy of being recognized and appreciated.
Our life was meant to have contrast so we do not take things for granted. No, I most certainly did not get “it all” in this life, but what I got was enough. I have enough shelter, food, water and comfort. I have enough relationships, enough friendship, enough family and enough love. I have just enough of everything. My cup is not overflowing from all the things I ever wanted, but it does overflow with all the things I “need” to make me a more compassionate, loving, caring, empathetic and better human being. How could I ever know to give comfort if I had never been hurt in my life? People who get an over abundance of blessings don’t necessarily see the suffering around them because they haven’t experienced it themselves. You can’t understand what you don’t experience for yourself. I am sitting in my chair next to my husband who is sitting in his chair and we are listening to old time music. Most Sundays my heart is full. We have a wonderful Pastor and Minister of Music who in glorifying God create an emotionally uplifting experience. If God asked me today to name the things I don’t have in this life, I would say to Him, “I didn’t get everything I wanted in this life Lord, but what I got was just perfect for making me the way you wanted me to be. I have been given enough and I thank you for this most perfect blend of gifts bestowed onto me. I also thank you for the “lacks” in my life, for these were where I learned to become a better person. It turns out the lacks really are blessings after all!”
Oh, and thank you for the gift of OLDER me to me! I enjoy me more now as an old lady than I did when I was a young woman. I am more forgiving and accepting of my flaws now that I am older, because I know that these, too, are part of your grand design!