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Life is a Gift

I’m a deep thinker. I love to mull things over. I love to look at a problem from multiple sides. I love to contemplate big topics. This piece of my personality can be a hindrance – sometimes it either holds me back from making a decision or means that I easily let my mind race off in to completely unrealistic scenarios. Most of the time, however, I can truly put an idea in the back of my mind and let it cook – like a pot on simmer while the sauce thickens up and achieves “perfection.”

This week a friend of mine on Facebook (who is an Evangelical Christian) posted the following thought on his wall:

Ever watch a kid open a gift disgusted with getting clothes? Today is a gift. How will you react as it unfolds?

As soon as I read that my mind went wild – and I actually changed my post for today.

I got to thinking about the concept of Life being a Gift from God. A priest at the parish I used to belong to before I got married had a phrase “greet each day with Gratitude to God.” I’ve read several things about the idea of looking for the little blessings in life – stopping to smell the roses, if you will. I like to think that I’m generally a pretty positive person, but I sometimes struggle with selfishness and negativity.

I think that God understands that we have a tendency to be selfish from time to time. I think that just as a parent knows their child will disappoint from time to time, God knows that we’ll take our many gifts for granted.

“Take care, brothers, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God.” ~ Hebrews 3:12 (NAB)

I don’t want to ever have an unfaithful heart because I have been given many blessings. I don’t ever want to fail to praise God for all that I have – even my struggles. A homily that I heard recently challenged me – do I want to be the type of Christian that is only on my knees in relationship with God when faith is being tested or am I a Christian that gives Glory to God in everything I do?

It’s easy to cry out when life is hard. It’s easy to dwell on unanswered prayers. A friend recently pointed Psalm 13 out to me as evidence that people have been crying out to God when troubles come for hundreds of generations. I could point to struggles in my life and say “Why me God?” or I could stop and look around and realize that God asks me to recognize the many gifts that I have been given. The Bible tells us

“all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.” ~ James 1:17 (NAB)

Do I view my life as a gift?

Do I focus more on what’s wrong in my life or what’s good and perfect? If someone were to ask me how I am do I tell them that I’m blessed and loved or do I tell them that I’m not sure how I’m going to make it through my day?

Do I moan about the rain on my travel day for work or do I rejoice because the rain is helping water the flowers that beautify my garden at home?

Do I thank God for my husband even when He’s getting on my nerves?

Back to my friend’s question on Facebook – haven’t we all given a gift to a friend or family member and gotten a less than favorable reaction? Do we stop and think about the reaction that we’re giving God about our life?

Another example, to help put it in perspective for anyone who might be thinking “ya, but what about _____?” My Grandmother was born in 1916, the ninth of eleven children. Her older sister, who was #3 in the birth order, was the sibling that she was closest with. My Grandmother was not only a “the glass is half empty” kind of person, but she’d go on and on talking about how whoever put the milk in the glass lied and said that it was half full, but she measured it and it was only 40% full so someone was cheating her out of milk. My great-aunt, by contrast, was one of the most positive people that ever walked the earth. She lived life by one motto: One day at a time, God willing. My mom and I have often tried to figure out how the two of them, with completely different outlooks on life, got along so well. The only way I’ve been able to figure it out is to say that they knew that they balanced each other out.

I want to live my life with the positive outlook. My great-aunt’s life wasn’t easier than my grandmother’s, but she had an easier time going through life because she always assumed the best about people and situations. She lived to be 102 and she left everyone she met a happier, more loved person.

Today I’ll ask you, what are you going to do starting today to walk a walk that embraces the blessings that the Lord has surrounded you with? Are you going to create a journal to record your gifts and blessings? Are you going to get on your knees today and rejoice that you have another day of life? Are you going to pick up the phone and tell someone that they’ve blessed your life just because they’re in it? Are you going to react like the kid who got underwear for Christmas? Or the kid who got the best gift he/she could ever imagine?

Congratulations, my friends! It’s a new day! You have 86,400 seconds; 1,440 minutes; 24 hours. What are you going to do with them?

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  • Megan - Thank you for this post. I’ve been working to view life in a more positive light. God gives us so much!September 27, 2011 – 7:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Mary - This was a lovely post. I’ve been praying often lately for an increase in gratitude. I think having gratitude is a good start to developing other virtues.September 27, 2011 – 7:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Hannah - I needed that reminder. I’m usually much like your great-aunt, ever cheerful and optimistic. Lately however, I have been really struggling with the crosses I’ve been given. Thanks for the reminder that joy does not come from circumstance.September 27, 2011 – 8:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Misty - I called and offered a meal to a woman from church who had just returned from the hospital the day before, after giving birth to her sixth child. I was told, “No thanks.” It made me feel like crap for days, because I’m someone who shows love through gifts. Much like God…he loves to shower us with gifts, but so often we don’t even recognize that we’re given something good. We complain and moan about the suffering and sacrifices, big and small, never stopping to think maybe this is the best or only means by which God can bring about a tremendous good in our lives and souls. I am definitely a half glass empty person, but I do try very hard to thank God for things that it’s easy to overlook, such as having the means, opportunity, and health to care for my family. Thanks for the reminder that I need to really cultivate the spirit of gratitude EVERY day and that real joy–not just the surface happiness but the real, deep-down JOY–will be mine, too.September 27, 2011 – 8:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Michelle - I am your typical pollyanna type of personality but every now and again I need this gentle reminder. Thank you! I look at all that I’ve been blessed with and am awestruck at God’s love for all of us. The best way that I know how to show thanks for it is to live each day as happy as I can. Some days I fail, but I try. I love this post. I plan to enjoy every gift God blesses me with!September 27, 2011 – 8:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Shiela - Thanks for the reminder to see the positive. If any of us ever really stopped to think about our life, we would be so humbled and gracteful. Too often we are thinking about what happens next and we don’t take the time to just enjoy our life. My toddler just enjoys the moment, that’s for sure. But, I see how her blocks are scattered and the magic marker is going to be hard to scrub off the chair and I forget how much I missed her before she was even born.September 28, 2011 – 10:02 amReplyCancel

  • BirgitJ - This post was just beautiful! I tend to be more of a glass-half-full person but it wasn’t always that way! One of the things that changed my outlook on life was being diagnosed with cancer at 48…I went from glass-all-the-way-empty to glass-very-full within weeks of hearing that ‘C’ word and have loved my life, people (and of course, God) more ever since. Thank you for the upbeat and positive spin on ‘one day at a time’!September 28, 2011 – 2:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Erika - What perfect timing for me… I’m reading this late, but the message couldn’t have come at a better time! I try to strive for the positive and mostly I succeed — on the outside to my ‘audience’. However, on the inside I’m often bemoaning the little things like having to work 40 hours a week, driving 5 hours a week to do so, and still not making much above barely getting by. My heart & mind are heavy right now with negativity, but hopefully I’ll be a bit more focused on the positive for today. Thank you!!!October 5, 2011 – 9:05 amReplyCancel

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