Everything…this is surely a very broad subject for this blog! The first thought that comes to my mind when I say “everything” is a recollection of my own distorted thinking. When I am having a very bad day, I will often find myself asking, “Why does everything have to happen to me?” And usually, upon the very completion of the question, I hear my inner voice saying, “Really? Have you counted your blessings lately?!”
It isn’t until someone understands that terms like “everything” are “all encompassing” that the misuse of the word stops. I doubt that any of us have ever had an experience that was truly made up of everything that could possibly come our way. When I had a very bad automobile accident on my way to school one morning, I had a “life passing before my eyes” moment. As I saw the car coming towards my passenger side window, I thought, “So this is how it happens. I didn’t even get to tell my family I love them or good bye.” Thankfully, a voice in my head said, “Press the pedal.” I did, and was able to move enough that the approaching vehicle t-boned me at the rear seat window. I did not lose my life that day, but I had a new respect for life. I tell my students as often as I can that we all should live this day as if it were going to be our last. Try to tell your family how much you love them.
As I watch the survivor stories from the recent hurricanes and earthquakes, I recognize that everything with which we surround ourselves adds up to nothing when compared with the lives of people around us. We live in such a paradox: storage buildings and sheds dot the landscapes to provide enough space for everything we call “ours.” Yet, our homes are often larger than any living quarters of the past. Perhaps we have believed the advertisements of the media and just cannot fathom being the only one in our neighborhood without the latest gadget!
My prayer is that, like Paul in the Bible, I will be content in whatever state I find myself. As I teach my young students, I will continue to remind them that we don’t have to have “everything” the world offers to be truly happy.