My children and I attended a prayer service at our church the other day.
Before the prayers began, people were allowed to pray for intentions.
The man behind me, easily in his late 70s, said, “Please pray for my 54 year old son who just had a heart attack and a stroke.”
Another woman said, “Please pray for the Johnson family who just lost Joan, who was a mother, wife, sister, aunt.”
And the worst one, “Please pray for Kelly McIntyre who just found out she only has 6 months to live.”
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We Often Don’t Acknowledge How Blessed We Are
At the same time my heart was breaking for these people and their circumstances, I realized immediately how blessed I am to still have my health and my family members around me, who are also healthy.
Isn’t that the most important thing?
Focusing On What You Don’t Have Robs You Of Experiencing Joy For What You Do Have
I also felt a deep embarrassment.
My husband and I live a rather frugal life by choice. He works full-time, and I work in a very part-time basis from home while homeschooling our kids. Money is tight, but we make it work.
Just recently, as the kids have gotten involved in more activities, our frugal lifestyle has begun to feel like a burden.
Since we’ve been married, we’ve only had one car. When we lived in the suburbs of Chicago, this was no problem because my husband took the train and could walk to and from the train station. Now, we’ve moved to Tucson, AZ, and every day, the kids and I have to drive 30 minutes round trip each morning and evening to drop off and pick up my husband at the bus station. Sometimes the bus runs late, so at night we could add an additional 15 minutes to our wait.
These trips to the bus station really feel like wasted time, and my husband and I have both uttered more than a passing comment about how nice it would be if we could buy a second car.
But seriously, in the face of the prayer intentions I heard at church, our grumbling sounds like little children’s tantrums.
Honestly, we have what we need. We have a home, a car, food for our family. We’re all together, and we’re all healthy.
Everything else is just extra.
Yet, how many of us, just like my husband and I, think life will improve if we can only buy______.
*If I buy a sports car, I’ll make a good impression on my associates.
*If I buy a second car, I won’t have to waste so much time sharing a car with my spouse.
*If I have a bigger house, the kids will have more room to spread out and won’t fight so much.
Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Appreciate What You Do Have
On and on our lists and wants go, while we don’t even realize that for most of us, we already have the things we need. We are already enormously blessed.
Maybe if we all take the time to practice gratitude, to say thank you for the people and things we already have in our lives, we can stop the endless desire to always want, want, want.
Once that desire is stifled, we will stop needlessly spending, sometimes running up debt while chasing the elusive dream of a “better” life.
As Rick Warren argues, “Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, you should be grateful for what you do have. Your ‘wants’ will pale in comparison when you realize that what you already have is more than enough.
Too often we think, ‘I have this, but if I get more, I’ll be even happier.’ That’s just not true. We are taught to be discontent, but we don’t have to be if we focus on what good things we already have.”
Have you had an ah-ha moment, where you suddenly realized just how much you have financially and in other ways? How do you practice an attitude of gratitude?