I recently asked someone how her week was and I got a list of everything that was horrible about it. I was so stunned (and not buying into the cynicism) that I said, “Well, I’ll see you next week and we’ll do it all over again!” I might have ticked her off, but here’s what I was thinking about later that night…
Life gets pretty hard sometimes. Life sucks sometimes. Life can kick you so many times in a row sometimes you wonder if it’s worth living. And if you want to spread that around on a daily basis, you go for it. Sprinkle your misery dust everywhere you can in an attempt to make people understand just how difficult your life is.
But do you understand how hard some people have to fight for even a drop of joy in their lives? Just a sliver, a smidgeon? All because of circumstances that are far beyond their boundaries of control. But they fight. Oh, they fight. They keep getting up day after day, working and conversing and hosting and living and loving even after all the fighting they do to simply feel joy.
And us? We have blessing upon blessing, poured into our lives like a fresh glass of orange juice meant to nourish us, give us energy to face the day. And yet we choose to focus on the negative. We continue to focus on the red lights and the burned meals and the bad days.
The Greek word for ‘blessing’ is eulogia, meaning ‘bounty’ or ‘bountifully’. The Dictionary.com app specifies a ‘blessing’ as ‘a special favor; good wishes’. May I add to that: “…not to be taken for granted.” The sunshine on a day when weather.com said 80% chance of storms but you had already scheduled a party. The parking spot up close when you’re running late. The free and clear traffic when you had expected to wait forever to make that left turn. The friendly smile (mirror synapses, remember) at work or at Starbucks. The opportunity to walk your sweet pup in the morning. The rainbow after a storm. The bright idea that popped in your head that you said off the cuff to your boss, and she loves it. The perfectly timed text message from a good friend. The day off. The new season of Breaking Bad available on Netflix. Finding an old favorite photo. Having your favorite meal for dinner. Being able to give your spouse, brother, sister, friend, nephew a hug. These things are worth focusing on. They are worth fighting for.
It sounds so romanticized and dramatic. But if you sit down and write down every bad thing that has happened in your life during the last 48 hours, then on the other side of the paper write every good thing (big and small), I can just about promise you that your good list will be longer. A counselor once made me write a list of things that I liked about my life at the time. I swore it was going to be short. About 34 items later…
This is not your mother saying, ‘Eat your peas. There are starving children in Africa.’ (Although that is true). This is common sense saying: don’t take your blessings for granted. Especially the ones you don’t have to fight for. Store them up, keep them on credit so that during your really sucky streaks you can remember that life can be good, life will be good again. And you’ll have more energy to fight for it because you’ll have something to hope for.
*I am not discounting or invalidating anyone’s bad day or down-on-your-luck streak you might be going through. Nor am I addressing one specific person. I just want us to remember to not take our blessings for granted, no matter how trivial they seem. Because they are the little things that make up the big picture. And in a life where it’s easy to lose sight of the good things, those big and small blessings that add to your joy are worth fighting for.