I was laying on the floor in a dark room tonight, waiting for Noel to drift off to sleep, my mind wandering to the news snippets of the past few weeks. I have often heard people say that they can't watch the news because it is too depressing; for me, I watch it for a different reason. I watch it not only to be informed, but to be reminded of how blessed I am.
A few weeks ago, I listened dumbfounded by radio reports of the continual warfare in Homs. It sounded unreal - rockets, mortars, tanks, gunfire - and families were probably in apartments the same size as mine, but couldn't step out the door without worrying if they would return. I cried when I read about another school shooting in Ohio, and the families and students that had started an ordinary day. In the past week, I watched footage from two different tornado paths, wreaking havoc on communities from Illinois to Missouri and Indiana to Kentucky.
I feel blessed because while I was laying there on the floor, Noel and Juliet were both safe in their beds, cuddling their teddy bears and blankies. And I started to count all the reasons I have to be grateful, and suddenly my glass seemed very full.
A few years ago, I read a book that changed my perspective on how to view blessings. It was written by a "Lost Boy" - a survivor of the Sudanese Civil War that raged from 1983 to 2005. When he, John Bul Dau, came to the states after fleeing for years from Sudan to Ethiopia to Uganda, he worked to build a new life for himself. He was filmed in the documentary "God Grew Tired Of Us", and later wrote a book by the same title, and he became my hero.
I loved one story where he kindly reproached Americans for ingratitude. John did not understand when people talked about the glass being half full or half empty. He wrote something to the effect that Americans all have a glass...in Africa, there were times when I did not even have a glass.
Having a glass. So simple - and so much. I think of this at odd times during the daily routine. When I catch myself grumbling that I have to do laundry, I remind myself, "At least I have a washer and dryer to keep my clothes clean...that's having a glass." Or "At least I have clothes that need to be washed...that's having a glass." I think about it when I have to do dishes, or vacuum, or do any number of household chores. But more than that, I think about it with my family. I am grateful that I get to lay on the floor, listening to Noel go to sleep. I am grateful that when she wakes up in the middle of the night, it is only from a night-terror, and not because there are mortars exploding in our city. I pray for all the people whose lives have changed so dramatically in the past few days, weeks, and months, and wonder what is in store for my family. For now, I am grateful that I have a glass; full and overflowing.