Today, I’m sitting on my boat dock, just outside my back door. My husband pulled our cabin cruiser over from the marina across the cove, to clean up after the recent storms. The house across from us is a multi million dollar home, like many around the lake.
Even Brad Pitt has a place here. Most are merely vacation homes, only used on weekends during the summer. Their boat docks alone are worth more than most of the homes I’ve lived in.
I don’t begrudge anybody for being successful. That’s seldomly a gift but rather the product of years of hard work and sacrifice. But, we do wonder what it would be like to have so much disposable income, that if we would use it like that? We wonder about the good that could be done with that much excess instead and imagine what good we would do, but the nagging question is, would we really?
The thought that disturbs me is how easily we slip into certain attitudes…the attitude of not having as much as someone else, attitudes of ever needing, more, better, best. It’s attitudes that not only feed selfishness, self centeredness, self importance, a false sense of pride and superiority but worse, it deprives us of the ability to see how wonderfully blessed we already are and robs us of gratitude.
Simultaneously, I’ve been asked to be a beta reader of a book written by Jeff Lester, a school friend of my husband, and send back an honest critique and suggested edits. Jeff and his book, are a beacon through the fog, riveted on these exact attitudes like a glaring spotlight.
A young man, an athlete, single and just beginning his adult life, was handed a death sentence, a diagnosis of ALS with prognosis of 3 to 5 years. Every dream, plan and vision for his life, fell to the ground like shattered glass. 27 years later, a quadriplegic and on a ventilator, he recounts his many joys, counts his blessing and teaches me to see with once blind eyes, my own.
While ALS slowly destroyed his body, Jeff, chose life, formed a deeper relationship with G-d, found Joy’s in unexpected places and a life of greater purpose. Jeff found love, married, had three daughters, obtained a master’s degree and wrote a book that will touch many lives with a perspective of blessedness and hope through any struggle.
I view my life with newly reopened eyes. In comparison to those around me, I have so little. My house isn’t very large, my boat isn’t biggest or the best, I drive a mini van that fits my XXL dogs instead of a Porsche, but the littlest I’ve ever had, once homeless after a fire, has been greater that 90% of the world and yet they live happy lives! I have a roof over my head to shelter me, clean water, cool in the heat and warmth from the cold. I have family. I am loved.
I am reminded that on my last day here, that G-d won’t care what kind of car I drove, how expensive or large my home, my net worth. He’ll care about my life, how I lived it, how I either used my blessings to bless others or hoarded them unto myself.
He’s not looking for materially successful citizens of the world but those who have overcome these attitudes to become the future good citizens of Heaven.
From this vantage point, I see how blessed I am and have been in every moment, even in the most difficult ones. I’ve been blessed In the struggles that made me solid, the terrors that made me strong, in need where faith grew, in grief where I learned hope.
My heart yields to the depth of gratitude, knowing I am rich. I am Richie Rich, rich! I am richly blessed, rich in spirit and rich in a debt to G-d for what I do not deserve nor could ever repay. Fully blessed.