There I was…sitting in a college classroom.
My books neatly stacked, pen and paper out to take notes, as I waited for my professor to start her lecture on the material that would be on the final exam in a few days.
It took everything in me to be present in class that day. My sister had just died six days earlier, and her funeral was the day before this particular class. And just a few weeks before my sister’s death, my other sister’s fiancé (who was also one of my best friends) had died. It was a small miracle I made it out of bed, but I didn’t want the whole semester to be wasted.
As I prepared to listen to my professor’s review, a girl sat right next to me.
This young lady began complaining to me (and the guy sitting next to us) for the next 10 minutes about her job, getting up early to make it to class, her boyfriend buying her the wrong color of roses over the weekend, and she complained about the manicure she had just gotten.
Then she complained about something that pierced my heart: she complained about having to go on vacation over Christmas break with her parents and sister.
Out of all of the mornings I had decided to arrive early to class, this was a day I wished I had slept in.
A mere month before, the young lady’s complaining would have gone in one ear and out the other. I would’ve thought, “wow…this girl is having a bad week.”
This particular morning though, I wanted to tell her – more like scream at her – how lucky she was to have both parents alive…lucky to have her sister to go on vacation with…blessed to have a boyfriend who bought her roses…and her fingernails…really?!…fingernails are something to complain about just because one chipped!? I thought, “wow…this girl needs some serious perspective!”
Sitting in that classroom, I wished my greatest problem was something as vain as a fingernail that could be fixed within half an hour. I wished my sister had her fiancé still here to buy her roses…she would’ve been grateful for any color. I wished I could go on a vacation…any vacation…with my sister and dad again. Instead, I was wondering how our family was going to make it through the grief and storm we were just catapulted into.
The fact is, grief deeply changes you. You see things so very differently!
It truly is like life is a glass “window” that has always been covered in thick glittery paint. Grief comes along and power washes all of the paint and glitter away.
…But having all of the thick glitter washed away doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.
Once you experience deep grief, and all of the glitter is washed away, you see people, things, and life – everything – much more clearly.
I’m not trying to be hard on the girl. I bet everything she was complaining about made perfect sense to her. It would’ve made perfect sense to me a few weeks earlier.
To be fair, I wonder how many times I have complained about trivial things to someone who was going through grief or a major life challenge?
And the bigger question:
How many blessings have I missed in life – especially pre-grief – due to not having a proper perspective or the ability to see a bigger picture?
The fact is, every “problem” we may have is an absolute lost “blessing” someone else deeply misses:
•The man or woman who is struggling to get along with their spouse? Someone else only wishes they could bring their spouse back from Heaven or back from divorce. Some are single and have never found love or marriage yet at all.
•The job we may absolutely hate? Someone else has recently been laid off or disabled and would love to have their job back.
•The child who is rebelling or making poor choices? Someone else would give everything they own just to have one more minute with their deceased child. Others have never been granted the privilege and gift of being a parent.
•The person who complains about the wrong haircut, a bad manicure, or “having to go to the gym”? Someone else is in a hospital fighting cancer or battling another illness. They only wish they still had their hair or the energy to go run or workout again.
•The person who complains about “having to go see their family,”…how long they have to stay at family gatherings and holidays…or who complains about their parents, siblings, children, extended family or in-laws? Someone else would give everything they own to have the luxury of having any family members at all. Family is a true gift – an EXTRAVAGANT gift – even if they (or we) don’t always act like one!
There are many more scenarios I could list of all the ways, and all of the people and things, we each take for granted or complain about. The opportunities and scenarios are unending.
Note: I’m not downplaying life challenges, difficult family members or challenging people, because life challenges and difficult people are always there and can be very painful. I, myself, have been guilty of complaining about people, things, and life events. I think we all have.
Once we truly put life in proper perspective though, and gain gratefulness in each area, the problems won’t seem near as big, annoying, inconvenient, or insurmountable.
We’ll find that some things in life are not quite the tragedy or crisis we make them out to be.
No matter what, at the end of the day, life is a tremendous gift! We may have to change our perspective, but life truly is.
Take some time today to truly see your blessings. Choose to continually create a grateful heart and genuinely appreciate each family member, person, gift, experience, opportunity, and modern day convenience we each are SO VERY blessed to have in our lives.
I have found that it seriously is a choice.
Rinse off the thick paint of the “window of life,” developing proper perspective, so you are clearly able to see, appreciate, and enjoy life…and the loved ones you have…to your best ability!
Don’t wait for life – or grief – to teach you a most painful lesson: The ability to see your pre-grief life with crystal clear perspective…to clearly see all of the treasure you once had in your life and held in your hand!
Learn this most important life lesson today…right now. Like great treasure in your hand, never allow perspective, blessings, or time to fall through your fingers. Life is precious. Family and good friends are a treasure. Time is a gift.
You may have already experienced a major loss or great grief. Perhaps you are currently going through a tragedy or crisis and life may not feel like a gift today.
Take the time to be kind to your heart. Even if it’s just baby steps, you truly can make it through.💗
“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.” ~Stephen R. Covey
“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.” ~Charles Richards
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” ~Oprah Winfrey
“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” ~Oscar Wilde
“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone.” ~Harriet Beecher Stowe
“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.” ~Stephen Vincent Benét
“I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dropped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity.” ~Hazel Lee
“If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance.” ~Andrea Boydston
Gratitude & many blessings,
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2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
5. Experiencing The Holidays With Jesus: Christmas (available November 2018) http://bible.com/r/3V5
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