Do You Realize How Lucky You Are?

Today, I drove over hill and dale to the west side of the state, all eager to discover Grand Rapids.

It is beautiful. You can see the sky. And I had no time to walk the streets or browse the stores.

Which is perfectly OK. Because what I came to do was gather stories for a client, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, so that I can tell the world all the important things they’re doing and pull in people eager to donate time and money.

I spoke with a man who was forced to flee his childhood home of Bhutan at the age of 4 and walk with his family to Nepal to live in a refugee camp for the next 17 years. His grandfather died the day after they arrived in the camp. The boy yearned for a home, for more than a thumb-full of rice to eat, for a way of life like the permanent residents who were his neighbors but not him.

Today, he lives in west Michigan and helps refugee families resettle and find new life here. He is brilliant and eager and energetic and as American as you or me. He still remembers Bhutan. He still remembers his grandfather. But now his dreams are coming true.

I met a man from Congo who fled several African countries, fearing for his safety and his family’s, until he was lucky enough to come here with his wife and four children. Now he helps refugee families settle and find new life. His voice skips with enthusiasm and joy. And freedom.

Something we take for granted.

A woman devoted her afternoon to me to drive me to LSSM clients being cared for by hard-working individuals who are there because no one else is. For the ill, the elderly, the obese, those who cannot do for themselves. “My life is back,” one man said to me.

I nearly wept.

Think of all the complaints that rifle through our minds in the course of a day. Are they even worth the air we give them?

Today was a brilliant day, an absolute gift. I was reminded how fortunate I am to do this work and to meet these wonderful, inspiring people – they reminded me how much more I can do to make the world better. I can volunteer, I can give, I can involve my whole family in helping others.

Think of the work you do. Does it truly make the world better?

If we do not strive to answer to a higher calling, if we are not guided by something more than money and fame, then we are wasting this precious life given us.

Think long and hard. Make sure your every step, and every breath, makes a difference. Otherwise, it’s all wasted.

Yesterday, before the migraine hit, I took my children to our public library. Shelves upon shelves of books for the taking. Their stacks reached higher than they could carry. My little one signed his name to his very first library card.

We felt like we had discovered the gold.

It’s all relative, isn’t it? The things we buy and yearn for and want and bemoan. Yesterday was a perfect day, and we saw it a little bit then but today, in this lens, I see it all that much better.

We were rich. So rich. So blessed. So damn lucky.

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