A Simple Prayer: How to be Grateful for What You Have and Stop Longing for More
I keep this picture framed in my home--a reminder, not only of the incredible journey I took up the mountains of Haiti, but also to be grateful for everything that I have been blessed with in my life.
A few years ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel up the mountains of Haiti and stay in a mountain village for one week. That week changed my life forever.
I held a dying a infant in my arms, willing in vain her to eat. She was just 11 months old and so skinny and weak that she couldn't even hold her head up. When I told the orphanage workers that she wouldn't eat, they said there was nothing to be done. Maybe it's enough that I held and comforted her. Maybe it's enough to have simply loved her. I hold on the promise that she is with our creator, living an existence beyond what she could ever have had here on earth.
We held a makeshift clinic in the main village we stayed in, passing out over-the-counter meds like pain relievers, eye drops, Neosporin and cold and flu meds. Our priest prayed over anyone who desired it.
In one of our most difficult cases, I watched as a mother was told that her child was close to death. By the time she was seen in our makeshift clinic she was almost completely unresponsive and we did not have any supplies that would have helped her.
Yet, with amongst all the sadness and poverty, in a place where just the basic necessities are difficult to come by, there was so much hope and faith. I watched as villagers came from hours away, dressed in pressed, perfectly white clothes to worship. They had so little, but they gave what they had. The whole church filled with the sweet sounds of praise as they sang hymns to the Lord.
In America, it is so easy to focus on what we have or don't have and we are so consumed by the desire for more, more, more: more clothes, more space, more food. We have an incessant need to "keep up with the Jones' that we sometimes lose sight of what's really important.
My house is small (1200 square feet), and old (built over 50 years ago), and most of our belongings are hand-me-downs. We don't buy anything if it is not on sale, and forget about going out to dinner or to the movies--we can't afford it. It is easy for me to fall into that trap of pinning for more.
But when I look at this picture, I can't help but feel so grateful for everything we do have. We may not have a big, newer house, or expensive belongings filling our rooms--but we have a warm, lovely home, carpet under our feet and soft, comfy beds to sleep on.
We may not be able to go out to eat restaurants often, but we have plenty of healthy food to eat. We have quality, comfortable clothes to wear, and our daughters have toys to play with. We are healthy, we have love, we have everything we need.
When my second daughter was born with a serious heart defect that required immediate surgery, she received excellent treatment from an amazing children's hospital. She was on a feeding tube for almost two years because she couldn't eat enough to gain weight. If she had been born to a family in Haiti, she probably wouldn't be here today.
So, how do you change your heart so that you are content with what you have, and lot constantly wishing for more?
Think about the people around the world and realize that if your family earns around $41,000 a year, you are in the top 1% for the whole world. If you have a roof over your head and a floor under your feet, a bed to sleep in and an indoor kitchen to cook in, if you have good food to eat, and clothes on your back, you have so much! If you have love, you have everything.
Read the prayer in the top photo every morning or during your prayer time. Are you thankful for the things you have, or do you spend your energy trying to get newer, better, more? Are you thankful for the things you don't have, or do you spend your prayer time asking God to give it to you? Are you thankful for the things you lack? For the things you've lost? Are you thankful?
I look at this picture. I read this prayer. I remember my friends in Haiti who have nothing but the love of God. How can I be anything but thankful with the blessings He has bestowed on my family? How can I be anything but content in my life?
© 2010 Sarah