Every day I’m reminded how blessed I am. I have a great mom, friends whom I adore, a pet that loves me unconditionally, a job, (make that more than one job), a home, a vehicle that gets me from point a to point b, and reasonably good health. I have a tremendous faith that can be shaky from time to time but then again, if one’s faith isn’t shaky then it isn’t really faith. We all get tested on how we feel about things. Even atheists get tested on their opinions in life.

I love life. I don’t love watching people get hurt and I don’t enjoy being hurt. If there was anything I could do to make peace a universal method of life, I would be caught doing that. I would love to see the world stop fighting within itself to make everyone leery of another person’s actions. I detest racism, bullying, and holier than thou attitudes. Just because someone has more money than others does not give them the right to treat them like they are beneath them. In fact, those who are wealthier often forget their roots and that’s a dangerous place to exist. Without roots, we don’t always recognize the blessing in which are bestowed upon us.

When I go to shop, I’m blessed knowing that I have the ability and the means to transport myself to and from. I’m blessed with the knowledge that I can walk when others legs and feet make them use walkers and wheelchairs. I have a job that may not make a fortune but it helps me to pay the bills. I’m able to do some things in my life that many others dare not dream. I have a roof over my head and food that I can eat. All blessings. All often overlooked as blessings.

I don’t always understand why I should consider my blessings but feel ashamed when it’s pointed out that I have much to be grateful for and shouldn’t complain.

Sound familiar? It should. Most of us are guilty of this. We take things for granted all the time. We take our working relationships for granted, our friends, our things that help to enrich our lives for the better, even little things like our children, our pets, the staples that help keep us grounded are often overlooked as blessings. Instead we see these things as duties. This isn’t a matter of scolding each other for what we have and what we don’t have. This is pointing out that we are all blessed with something. Even those without homes are blessed. They are alive. They may be broken but they still have the option of changing their lives. They don’t always see it that way though. Many of them deal with mental illness or depression that is not properly treated. Without proper treatment and better living conditions, it’s difficult for anyone to get back on their feet and change their life for the better.

We are all truly blessed. Celebrate your blessings rather than what you think you don’t have.

How do we fix this? There is a movement of groups that have started building Tiny Houses for the Homeless. I love this concept. If you can help the homeless by helping them get into shelter, it’s amazing at what other changes can begin to occur. I used to work for Habitat for Humanity in Greensboro, NC. I loved watching folks who would not have become homeowners without assistance, achieve their dream of owning their own homes. I watched as the communities they were in build community gardens and offer community centers to make sure that the youth had some place to thrive without having to join the local gangs and get into trouble. It is through these kinds of blessings that communities thrive.

Our communities are a blessing. Our families, churches, organizations, and any place that makes you feel that you belong is a true blessing and a testament to the love that is unconditional in this world. It’s easy to look around and see all the negativity that is shown to us. Yet, even in the most dire areas, there is always a blessing to be seen. In war torn areas, the blessing that I see the most is that we have the ability to learn from the damage that is inflicted. There are survivors who live to warn of the dangers still to come. With their testimonies and the rubble that is left, we learn of various cultures and why some of those cultures do things differently than we do.

Islamists, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, all share one thing in common. They all believe in something even if they don’t believe in a higher being. Atheists, in particular, share the fact they don’t believe in God. Well, the fact is that they have faith that they are right. The truth is that all sects believe that they are the sect that is right for them. I choose not to believe in labeling what a person believes. I was raised Lutheran, am a practicing Lutheran and some days I don’t even understand why all the religious conversations have to be about what religion is right and what isn’t. I was raised as a Christian. After traveling the world, I have a newfound respect for all types of religion. I’ve learned something for others who don’t share my beliefs and that’s a really good thing. To believe in something strongly shows a strength of character. When I worked with Habitat, the Islamists, the Muslims and other sects of faith, never once made me feel like I was in danger. These are good men and women who do not represent the extreme radicals who choose to hurt others. There are many different sects of faiths that represent their cultures well. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of news outlets that only show the bad and not the positive environments in which these men, women, and children dwell. They are blessings.

I want to challenge each of you to start a conversation of blessings. Stop looking at what you don’t have and focus on what you do have. Look at the world in a new set of lenses. Life isn’t always rainbows but the rainbows are there. They show after a shower has washed away the dryness. Our lives are a lot like that. We have a lot of dryness that once it gets wet appears differently than what we first saw. Cherish each day. Respect other cultures. Be a part of the solution. Ask questions. Most importantly, open your heart to being open. Loving who you are is the first step to loving others. Perhaps we can all take a page from those who surround themselves with blessings.

Our lives are all a blessing.  Everything we do in life teaches us patience, gratitude, perserverance and love.  Celebrate your blessings.

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