I think it’s in our nature as human beings to be vocal about the things that displease us, while keeping silent on incidents that bring us happiness. I have written many posts about my pet peeves and random idiosyncrasies, but I have yet to talk about the things that I am grateful for. When I gave real thought to everyone and everything I appreciate, I figured I could do a whole series on gratitude alone. We very easily disregard the importance of gratefulness.
I know no one is ever ungrateful for healthy children, but do we really take the time to think about how fortunate they makes us? I read a blog post recently and was bawling my eyes out by the time I reached the end of it. A mother watches her daughter’s daily decline mentally and physically as the result of a rare birth defect. She knows that her time with her little girl is limited, so she makes it her business to be present in every moment she has left with her. She takes joy in the time they share, and records her memories on her blog where she can access them easily when her daughter is no longer available to hug. God, that gets me choked up even writing a paragraph about it. As a mom, I can’t imagine planning a child’s funeral. I can’t say for sure what I would do in her situation, but I don’t know that I could accept the inevitability with the amount of grace this woman has. Although I don’t know her, I wish I could embrace her through the computer.
Thank goodness that my children are pretty healthy. Little Linebacker suffers from Asthma, but is still able to live a pretty normal life. When I lose patience, when I feel like running away from the sibling rivalry and rough-housing, when I want to beat someone with a fly swatter for using my walls as dinner napkins, I remember the woman who already has her daughter’s casket picked out. And I pray that I never know the pain of outliving my babies.
Bring thankful for my husband seems like a no-brainer, as does being grateful for the health of my children. Having been in a really bad marriage my first time around, I have a level of appreciation for my current marriage that someone who never had it rough might not be able to relate to. I really believe that my husband was made just for me. We have disagreements like any other couple, but I wouldn’t change a single thing about him. Every aspect of his character is something I need in my life. I won’t say that he completes me, because I believe that a person should be complete before entering into a relationship. Another human being doesn’t have the ability to make you whole. They do have the ability to balance you, though. His strengths complement my weaknesses and my softness smoothes his edges. I had an idea of what I wanted in a spouse prior to marrying him, but didn’t take the time to think about what I needed. He is both my dinner and dessert wrapped up in one handy dish.
I don’t consider myself a overly religious person, but I like to think I have a good relationship with God. After doing some soul-searching, I converted to Islam at the tender age of 15. It just spoke to something deep inside of me. I’m thankful that I took the time to learn about the religion for myself instead of observing it in practice by others, because some of the experiences I’ve had with other people who call themselves Muslims would have seriously derailed my faith. I’ve been to masjids where I felt unwelcome because I didn’t fit in ethnically, or because I didn’t dress a certain way. When I first moved to Orlando, I spent a good amount of time around people who taught their children to memorize Qur’an for the sake of boasting about it to others. They were brash in the manner in which they interacted with one another, and were heavily critical. Every week, I learned about how deficient I was as a human being, and especially as a woman. Classes I attended focused so much on the perfecting of rituals that it all began to feel very mechanical to me. I got to a point where I prayed solely out of obligation. It was really a somber point in my life.
After meeting a pretty awesome group of people at an Eid (holiday) celebration, I began attending a class that a local imam gave on Sundays. The moment I walked into the classroom, I noticed that the vibe was different from anything I had encountered before. People from all walks of life were embraced and made to feel as though they belonged. We became a family, despite differences in skin color and background. The imam stressed the importance of love and kindness, something that had been hugely absent from masjids I had gone to in the past. He not only expounded on the basics that most of us were already familiar with, but helped us figure out how to apply those fundamental principles to our lives to become better people. He doesn’t realize it, but he reminded me of why I fell in love with Islam in the first place. I will be forever in his debt because of that.
I’ve learned to stop regretting the toxic relationships I have had with people. Regardless of the pain or inconvenience they may have caused, they each served as a learning experience. Whether positive or negative, they have helped define my character in some way. I had friends who have stolen from me, engaged in wanton acts with my ex husband while I was still married to him, and sought to besmirch my reputation in my absence. Believe it or not, I am thankful for all of it. I honestly believe that you need to feel pain and sorrow in order to fully appreciate joy. I have formed bonds with people that I don’t think I would value as much as I do, had I not witnessed such callousness and animosity in people. I have a pretty awesome family that means the world to me, and friends who have become an extension of that family.
I may not communicate with the people I love as often as I should (and I promise to work on that), but I think about them every day and I treasure the impact they have had on my life.
It probably seems redundant to write a blog post about such obvious things, but I think we all need a reminder. Not a single one of us can affirm that there isn’t anything we take for granted. I encourage you to think about the people who are essential to your emotional well-being, and take the time to thank them for giving you the opportunity to love them.
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