In the Spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my blessings and how privileged I am. As I was walking to class this morning, I pondered the question, “How did I get so lucky to have everything that I do?”. Now, you have to understand this question in context of my experiences lately.
I have a roommate who spent a summer in Africa. On a regular basis, we talk about the living conditions there and the extreme poverty the people face. She told me a story about a gift that she gave to a friend of hers. His birthday was coming up and she wanted to get him something nice. He always tried to look his best so she settled on a necktie. She picked out a normal necktie here in America, one just like I’m sure many of you wear to church each week, and sent it to him as a gift. Upon receiving the gift, he told her how conflicted he was. When she asked why, he told her that he was torn because he didn’t know how best to use the tie. He told her it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and he didn’t know how best to show it off to the people in his village. He was torn between wearing it with pride, with the risk of it getting dirty, or framing it on his wall as an art piece in their home. When I think of someone wanting to hang a necktie as art in their home because it is the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen, I am very humbled.
Another story…I’ve been working in a classroom at an alternative education high school. As part of their education, the students are required to write an essay each month on a topic of the teacher’s choosing. This past month, the prompt was, “What do you want to do when you graduate from high school?”. Now you need to understand that this is not a “normal” high school, this is a school for students who need a little more assistance whether it is for academic, behavioral, or personal problems but it is still a small town in Utah. As I read through the responses from the students, I was again humbled. Their responses ranged from wanting become a fighter or join the military so they could learn to defend themselves (possible abusive background?) to wanting to go to college because no one in their family has ever gone before to wanting a big career so they could take care of their families and have the conveniences they’ve never had. In a school of 300, 80% of the students come from a low socio-economic background, 30% are English language learners. As I discussed their responses with the teacher, he said that the sad statistic is that most of these students will not realize their dreams. Again, humbled.
When I think of these situations, framing a necktie and wanting to go have a good career to finally have enough money, I am extremely humbled and I am led to ask the question again, “How did I get so lucky to have everything I do?”. I am very blessed. I have plenty of food to eat, nice clothes to wear, and I’m finishing up my college education. I’ve never had the trials that many others have had to face. As I was thinking about this and Thanksgiving, I listened to a talk by Dallin H. Oaks. In that talk, he quotes Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye says, “Lord, who has made the lion and the lamb, you decreed I should be what I am; would it spoil some vast eternal plan, if I were a wealthy man?”. I love Dallin H. Oaks’ response, he says, “Yes, Tevye, it might. Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality”.
I love the simple reply, “yes, it might”. Although I still do not know why I am given all of these blessings when others are asked to struggle, I feel better in remembering that this is what the Lord has in store for me and if I was called to bear different circumstances, it may not be in line with that vast eternal plan. I ask that all of us remember that simple statement of “yes, it might” as we conclude this Thanksgiving season and move forward to Christmas. Know that where you’re at and what you’ve been given is according to that vast eternal plan the Lord has for you. “Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality”.