At Thanksgiving, embracing the winds of change and increasing our faith
Armstrong Williams | 11/26/2012, 4:30 p.m.
As we gain perspective and reaffirm our faith, obstacles in our path start to seem less obstructive and more instructive. Instead of complaining about our empty gas tanks, we begin to appreciate the benefits of walking, biking or taking the bus to work. After all, most of us could stand to become a bit more physically fit. Walking to work provides us with such an opportunity. Similarly, taking the bus may relieve the stress of navigating morning traffic jams and give us time to plan our day more effectively. Instead of arriving at work flustered over the commute, we enter the workplace rested and ready to get down to business. For those of us who have been laid off, we can also use that time constructively. As we search for the next opportunity, we can see beyond the constricting bonds of our previous profession and open ourselves to opportunities in other sectors of the economy. Moreover, we can spend more time working on personal projects--perhaps developing an interest in painting, calligraphy or cabinet-making, or spending valuable time with our children and grandchildren, imparting timeless virtues. By the time we do find work again, we may find ourselves reluctantly parting with a life of simplicity and grace. We begin to discover just how much we have to be thankful for, and praise the source of such abundance.
Perhaps the most valuable benefit of times of struggle comes from the way it forces us to decide which things we value most. Faced with less buying power, we tend to spend only on those things that create the most satisfaction, and thus press more enjoyment out of each dollar spent. Do you really need cable television? Don't you derive more joy from engaging in conversations with friends, or curling up on the couch with a good book? Do you find that cooking a simple and nutritious meal at home often beats going out to an expensive restaurant? Doesn't preparing your own food bring with it intrinsic benefits that you hadn't previously considered? Instead of planning that vacation abroad, aren't there wonders to behold in your own city and neighboring communities? Therefore, give thanks and praise for the simple pleasures and undervalued joys of life.
Such is the paradox of abundance that, properly considered, less often ends up being much, much more. But to experience these bountiful ironies, we must open our eyes and fortify our hearts, even as the headlines tell us that the sky is falling. If those predictions are in fact true, all it means is that it will soon be easier to reach the clouds. We must then give thanks and praise for the blessing of being able to place our hands upon the boundary of our imagination.
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