It really pains me to see how we humans often take life for granted. This ungratefulness manifests itself in many different ways; too many to count really. But to name a few, we do it through over-complaining about our trials, by being victims of circumstances rather than creators of new ones, by wishing death upon ourselves and others, or by using religion to rationalize reasons to not worry about this life so much because of more emphasis on the next life. I have recently been convicted of such attitudes towards life.
Honestly, I never used to struggle with being positive and loving each and every second of life; it seemed to just kind of come naturally. The past three years however have taken me down a path into the darkest season of my life and somewhere along the way, in that darkness, I forgot how to savor every moment life gives me. Maybe the ungratefulness grew out of necessity, using my mind, heart and will, in their entirety, in every minute merely trying to “survive”, leaving me incapable of much more than just “getting by”, much less joy. Or maybe I merely forgot how to truly live, and rather just settled for watching life pass by.
But, as I have recently written, I am relearning how to live life in its fullest, and I am speaking, if not shouting or singing, to my heart to live, love and be free. Last weekend was an amazing reminder of gratefulness for me. A group of kids from a family I am close to came over for the weekend. We watched dvd’s, cooked meals, climbed Lions Head Mountain, baked muffins together, jumped on the couch, and laughed a lot. They savored every second of the weekend, whether it was doing something others might consider mundane like taking a bath (they averaged two a day because at home they don’t have a bathtub or running hot water), or something as epic as climbing a mountain for the first time. They were excellent teachers in not taking any of life’s moments for granted. I learned volumes from them. I think we all can.
This morning on Facebook I saw two statuses, from two different individuals, that sit on either side of the gratefulness/ungratefulness spectrum. The one was from a friend of mine (I will call Jane) who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and the other was from a healthy young man (I will call John). When Jane was first diagnosed we were not even sure how long she would make it, or if she would. It did not look good. But she fought, with all of her heart and might. She refused to accept death and has prolonged her life through positivity, love, and a healthy degree of stubbornness. Her status this morning boasted of the difference between the versions of “her” on the paper of the doctor’s reports and who she actually is and the things she is actually doing; striking contrast! Glorious!
John’s status, on the other hand, was wishing death upon himself. Sure, he has been through some difficult stuff in life, but nothing that could not be overcome. And he is now a strong, healthy, intelligent young man, with the world at his fingertips and the potential for a rich life on his horizon. But John basically cursed the day he was born, wishing he would have died on the same day he came into this world. Tragic! Here we see one person whose life has been threatened, fighting so hard to live, and another who does not see the amazing gift of life given to him, fighting so hard to die. Life is always a gift, and always significant.
I don’t think it should matter so much what we believe in how this world was formed, who runs it all, or how we got here. The fact that we are here is the significant part. And no matter what you believe about where you will go after this life, we cannot spend this entire life wishing it away, taking it for granted. Whether a person believes in eternal life, reincarnation or nothing at all, we can all agree that this is the one opportunity to live in this world, in this way, as the people we are in this life. And we owe it to ourselves not to settle for less, to not be victims of perceived negative circumstances, and not to be unappreciative of the amazing gift of life we have been given. Life is meant to be lived, and lived in the fullest.
Shame on those who wish it away and do not hold it dear. Shame on me for falling into that mindset. But as I said, I am relearning what it means to truly live. I’m trying to get back to savoring each and every moment. I don’t want to just “make it” from this day to the next! I want to make beautiful memories each and every day. And whether through pain or joy, I never again want to take life for granted. I want to use my life circumstances, whether positive or negative, to mould me into the best version of myself. I want to remember that each and every breath I take is a gift, but not a guarantee. God thank you for this life, and help me remember to LIVE.