Remember the old story of the kid whining for a pair of new sneakers only to be told to consider the kid with no feet. It’s all about perspective, right? That’s true, but it never really worked. I mean, as a kid, I still wanted my new high tops. Gratitude for what we have is neglected in this consumer-driven world.
Gratitude dawned on me last night at the dinner table. There I was with my four amazing kids and loving wife. However, I was grumpy. I’m often grumpy. I might be stressed about work or a project I’m working on. Or I’m wrestling with theological or personal questions. As someone who loves things to be perfect, I’m continually reminded how this is never achievable. One would think I’d stop my incessant drive toward it – I don’t.
Instead I often complain about my life. Marriage and raising kids is hard, right. I get frustrated. We all do. But perspective is helpful. A positive and grateful perspective is really helpful.
So there I was eating my dinner when I noticed my neighbor. We have a bay window in our dining room that gives us front row seats to any action out on our street. My neighbor is divorced. His ex-wife pulled up, dropped off their two kids and drove off. It was a quick exchange. I can only imagine the emotions that were stirring with the parents and the kids.
I wondered if they looked over and saw us. All six of us were laughing, joking, and teasing as we talked and ate. There was some complaining and it was loud – it’s usually loud – but what a different picture.
Did they look through our picture window only to be reminded of their shattered dreams? Did they yearn for that Norman Rockwell scene and all the American Dreams that go with it?
This is not to suggest I have it – or live the dream – or is it? I guess it’s a matter of gratitude and perspective.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson