Be Thankful for What You Have!
By Mikimi Steinberg
Showing gratitude is a trait our parents and teachers attempt to teach us and sometimes it even gets integrated into who we are as human beings and as creations of G-d. Often we get so caught up in the every day grind of living we forget to truly appreciate what we have. I'm not just talking about a home and food and clothes. I mean that we actually can wake up in the morning and be able to say the Modeh Ani (prayer thanking G-d for waking up) each and every morning. We are alive!
Often it is hard to feel grateful for being alive when things in life seem to go wrong. An illness or untimely death (especially G-d forbid a child), a tragedy (terrorist attack or accident), or a person getting fired from a job. All of these situations can be looked at as the end of the world. Yet life goes on in good times and bad times. That is why we say a blessing when a child is born and when someone passes away. And G-d foresees all. We have the Torah and our Jewish tradition to guide us in our lives as Jews. The famous song "to every season, turn, turn, turn" actually came from Ecclesiastes a clear example of proof that G-d knew exactly what He was doing in creating Man.
We take it for granted that we are alive - with a roof over our heads and food and clothing. Until G-d forbid something happens and we don't have theses amenities of life. Should a tsunami, hurricane, tornado, flood, fire or katyusha strike our home or ourselves we would have an entirely different perspective on what G-d gives us on a daily even hourly and minute by minute basis in that we are alive. We need to be grateful for every moment that we breathe.
Last year's War in Israel affected so many people that never realized how precious our country and its people are. Katyushas zoomed through the air without a care in the world as Nasserela took aim on every spot he thought he would find a largely populated area of Jews - without regard if they were old or young; man, woman or child. We lived in fear. Yet we forgot G-d was and is always near.
Sometimes a mishap can turn into a blessing a "blessing in disguise". A katyusha hits your home and the government pays for repairs. A routine check-up at the doctor reveals a growth that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. A plate or glass shatters but it was empty of food - and no one was cut. The emotional pain of a disaster or tragedy still exists. But we have to be grateful for the small things in life that happen to us. We run for the bus and the bus-driver sees you and waits for you. We go for a blood test and the nurse find a vein with only one needle stick. We need an operation and we are first on the list to go into the operating room. We are carrying groceries or food to the table, and stumble yet nothing breaks. The toilet overflows (or the sink) and the plumber is able to come right away.
It is the little things in life that really matter and for these we should be on the lookout. I live alone, and as such I find it difficult at times to cook for one. Every now and then I am privileged to receive from friends their "leftovers". You know the amount of food left over after a Shabbat meal and you serve it for Sunday lunch, and there is still a little left but not enough to serve the family members at home? That is just enough for a single person to reap the benefits and have one or two portions. I have a friend who thought of these leftovers as "rejects". Not I. What a blessing! Or, how about the occasion when someone can't use a "specialty" card (bus, pool, treatment) and the person thinks especially of you. I recently had this happen to me with several "discount" bus cards that a friend of mine couldn't use anymore. I even offered to compensate her but she wouldn't hear of it. What a blessing! Be grateful for the small things in life.
These may all seem inconsequential, yet if we train ourselves to look for the good in everything instead of what is wrong around us - we have the power to change the world! To change our own perspective and perception on ourselves and our surroundings is an awesome realization for we can change only ourselves not others.
We can dream and aspire for bigger and better things in life, but to always remember that everything is from G-d. And to always be happy and thankful for what we have at this moment. This is our service in this world.
The Moda Ani prayer:
I thank you, my King who lives and gives life, for in Your compassion You gave me back my soul; great is Your faithfulness.
from the September-October 2007 Edition of the Jewish Magazine