BEFORE YOU READ THIS... here is my disclaimer. This is not to make anyone feel guilty for what you have or how you spend your money. And if you have cable, yes, I'm a little bit jealous. But this is a lesson I learned recently when I was whining and I wanted to share it with you for what it's worth.
"I don't see why we can't have cable," I grumbled. This whole thing of saving money by having a TV antenna and recording shows on our old VCR was ridiculous. In my humble opinion. Life was so much easier with cable when I could program all my HGTV shows to automatically record whenever they popped up. (Yes, costs had gone up but I was worth it.)
This was a constant complaint and my husband really wasn't happy to hear it again. His usual argument: a terrible waste of money and a rip-off. "You can find HOUSE HUNTERS on Amazon and Netflix," he reminded me.
Fine. Just. Fine. Someone in this household was not listening to his wife. I stuck my chin in the air and went to bed to read. The book was an autobiography of Lopez Lomong, an African Olympic athlete, who was taken by Sudanese rebels at the age of six and wound up escaping only to grow up in a refugee camp. In this camp, the UN, trying to take care of so many, offered the refugees oil and enough grain to last a week if they ate one meal a day. The big highlight of the week was when the dump truck dumped the workers' garbage, which could consist of anything from a half-eaten banana to a scrap of bread. These lost boys would jump into the garbage and fight over the scraps.
Reading this I felt God's reprimand. What are you eating? How do you live? Have you looked at your incredible view recently? And you're complaining because you don't have cable? Seriously?
I realized how right my husband was. We already lived in the proverbial lap of luxury and I wanted more? There are people in the world subsisting on garbage. I'm thinking perhaps I can find better uses for that money.
You'd think that would have been enough lessons for one night, but no. I read on. "What is the point of such complaining?" said Lopez. "After all the whining and complaining is over, you still live in a refugee camp. All the complaining in the world won't make your life any better. Instead, you must choose to make the best of whatever situation in which you find yourself..."
I thought of my feet, which were tingling even as I read - the peripheral neuropathy, a souvenir from my chemo treatments two years earlier. Actually, I try not to complain about the neuropathy. It's not extreme, and I can lie with it. But it does bother me enough that I'm still trying to cure it with everything from laser treatments to vitamins. It dawned on me as I lay reading that instead of seeing this as a frustration I could consider it a bit of a blessing because it's a reminder that God took me through a really rough time, that I'm still here to enjoy my family and friends, that I still have an opportunity to grow and learn and do some good in the world. Sometimes, after going through hard things, it's easy to put them so far behind us that we quickly skip on with our lives and forget how much was done for us. (At least it is for me.) My neuropathy serves as a reminder of how I was spared and how blessed I am.
So, here I am with my tingly toes and my money-saving entertainment methods. Remembering to be grateful and closing the complaint department.
How about you? What are you grateful for?