Thursday, July 3, 2014

Enjoying what we have

The book of Ecclesiastes was penned by Solomon, considered to be the wisest man that has ever lived. In this short 12 chapter book, Solomon tries to figure out what is the meaning of life.
So many of his sentences resonate deeply in my soul.
Skipping ahead to chapter 6, Solomon writes:
     "Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don't have."

This sentence has been mulling around in my mind for days now.
Do we enjoy what we have? Do we count the blessings we are given? Or are we so consumed with getting what is next?

I have been surprised at my lack of ungratefulness; actually I am quite ashamed by it.
The past year of my life has been inundated by "surprises" but also by undeserved gifts. 
Having battled cancer and come thru, I am very aware of the beauty of the gift of life. How precious it is to be alive. How unfortunate it is that we only seem to recognize that fact when our health, or someone we love's health, is in jeopardy. How many of us take our health for granted? We need to celebrate and enjoy our lives.

This year also brought the loss of someone I love very dearly. Robby was one who embraced life and embraced relationships. He was the type of person who everyone enjoyed being with. Robby had so many different types of friends and each person always felt loved and cared for by him. So this week, I have questioned if I enjoy the relationships I have like Robby did. Do we treasure those times we have with others? Do we seek out to be-friend others and enjoy people that we are with? 

Living in the United States has its advantages and disadvantages.
We are a culture consumed by materialism. We want what others have. We covet and are miserable until we get the latest desire of our hearts. We believe we are "entitled" to whatever it is we wish to have. We have feelings of discontent that we don't have someone else's possessions or status or success.

Why is it we want what others have and yet do not enjoy what we do? Why do we dwell on what we desire instead of relishing what we do have? This is why Solomon often writes that life is meaningless. We have, we crave and covet and then we don't appreciate what the blessings we have been given.

Ann Voskamp's book, A Thousand Gifts, encourages us to take note of the simple, small pleasures everyday, and to be grateful. I have been trying to put this into practice since I read this book a year and a half ago. When we have thankful, grateful hearts, we tend to see life with a more positive outlook.
Even in the midst of trying, painful circumstances, we can be thankful. Yes, I know this can be hard, but it can be done. When I received the news that I had a rare type of cancer, I was scared, but I also knew that my life was in the hands of a God who loved me. I was thankful that I knew HE was in control, because my life appeared to be totally out of my control. I became thankful for the gift of life like I never had before. Even today, when I wake up daily with a sore neck, I am reminded that I am alive and I am grateful.
I am become increasingly aware of all the things I am thankful for, and am striving to enjoy what I do have.
If you were to take 5 minutes and write down all the things you were thankful and appreciative of, I am sure you would be amazed at how many things will pop into your mind. I did this recently and was so surprised how many things my mind came up with in that short time. Besides the "normal" things like my health , my family, my dear friends, a calling that I am compelled to do, I wrote down things like the beach, my dogs, experiencing 4 seasons, the beauty where I live, my college friends, butterflies, clouds ( a new obsession since living at Woodleaf), sunsets, weddings , my children's friends, books, music and so many more.
If I (and you) could enjoy just the little things we experience daily, we would be more apt to appreciate the tremendous gifts we have been given.

Desiring what we don't have causes covetness, jealousy and embitters us. It just isn't worth it. This week in a devotional book  I am reading with one of our summer interns,  by a pastor named Tony Evans, I read :

     "One of the great tragedies today is we don't have enough Christians who know how to give thanks for what they already have."
Taken from "Get Serious"

I couldn't agree with him more. May we be those who enjoy what we have been given.

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