I sat in front of a computer screen on that August day and realized that in the year and a half since we returned to the States, I had already left behind the lessons we learned overseas. I was taking the basic "necessities" for granted - reliable power, clean water, police and firemen who show up within minutes of dialing three numbers on my home phone. I knew what it was like to live without all of that, and yet how quickly I had forgotten.
So I started a list. I came up with 10 things and I just kept counting. As the list grew, so did my view of the world. Instead of constantly focusing on the negatives, I started seeing the positives. Instead of being frustrated by what I couldn't have, I focused on what was already in my life. Instead of feeling deprived, I felt blessed.
I have a home. And not just any home, I have a lovely home, free of drafts (eh, mostly) and leaks, completely paid for, with heat and air conditioning and indoor plumbing. We have not just one, but two cars, and not old clunkers that we pray get us from here to there, but reliable transportation. We have money in the bank, food in the fridge, jobs that provide, a closetful of clothes, and
We have parents and family who love and support us. We have friends scattered all over the world thanks to the amazing 4.5 years that we got to spend traveling and working in Africa, southeast Asia, and Alaska. We have a shelf of Bibles in our home and can attend our little church without fear of being arrested.
We both know Jesus and we know where we'll spend eternity when our lives come to an end, which really trumps every other thing on this list.
You see, dear readers, you and I? We really have a wonderful life. Clarence was right. It's not about money and things, it's about recognizing that everything is a gift. It's seeing the affect that one man or woman can have on the lives of others. It's changing our mindset from one of continual negativity (Why do they have more than me? Why isn't my house as nice as hers? How come I work hard and never catch a break?) to one of perpetual gratitude (I'm thankful for the home I have. I'm thankful for good health. I'm thankful I have cereal for breakfast.).
It might be a bit Pollyanna-ish for some, but the fact of the matter is, having a thankful outlook has changed my inner mindset. It's helped me find the good in very dark times, and to acknowledge that there is always something to be thankful for, just as Betsie ten Boom found she could give thanks for fleas in the middle of Ravensbruck. If she could do that, surely we can give thanks for the multitude of daily blessings that we take for granted, don't you think?