I thought it would be easy to count my blessings but I was wrong.
Every time I lie down to sleep I pray. I ask forgiveness for my sins, I ask God to make me into the person He created me to be, I ask Him to bless all my friends and relations and I give thanks for all the blessings He has bestowed upon me.
The other night I was not tired enough to fall asleep right away so I thought I would try to count my blessings but, as I began, I decided I’d like to list them in order of magnitude from the greatest blessing down to the smallest.
I began with what I have always thought of as my greatest blessing, my children, but as I prepared to give them first place on my list a memory sprang to mind that caused me to wonder if they really are the greatest blessing God has given me or if other blessings are greater.
The memory was of a documentary I once saw. I have forgotten all the documentary apart from one scene. A woman with vacant eyes was mechanically, rapidly, creating mud bricks from dirt and water. She didn’t seem to see the camera or hear the narrator as he told viewers that she was trying to build a wall to protect her children from the men who had attacked her village. The men were her own countrymen and they raped her and her children then forced her to watch as they slaughtered all of her family apart from her and her two youngest children. She was in a refugee camp but, clearly, she still didn’t feel safe.
The narrator said she spends her days desperately trying to build a mud brick wall high enough and strong enough to keep her children and herself safe but, whenever she tests the strength of what she has built, it falls apart and she has to start over.
As thankful as I am to God for giving me my children I am, I decided, even more thankful to have given birth to them in a country where they could be fed, clothed, educated and kept safe without a mud brick wall!
I decided to list my country of birth, Australia, as my greatest blessing but then a memory of another woman came to mind.
She was a grey haired old woman and she was waiting on the side of the road in the tropical heat of a summers day in Darwin for a bus. I was on a bus headed for the city of Darwin which was just a couple of suburbs away. The bus stopped and she let the other passengers board ahead of her then went to get on herself but the bus driver stopped her.
“Where do you want to go?”, he asked, “Darwin.” she replied and he told her the bus was not going to Darwin. I watched as an expression of resigned disbelief crossed her face but she didn’t argue. She just stepped off the bus and went back to the side of the road to wait for the next one while I sat, speechless with shock, as the bus driver closed the door and took off without her.
She was Aboriginal. The passengers the bus driver had let on the bus where white. The bus driver was, clearly, prejudiced. I wondered why she had not challenged his lie but I was younger then. Today I know the older you get the less energy you have for fighting so you pick your battles wisely. I’m guessing she didn’t feel a bus ride was worth making a fuss.
She was born in Australia too but the look on her face that day told me this wasn’t the first time she had been lied to or treated that way. She wasn’t the only person I have witnessed being treated badly because of their race, religion, or colour so perhaps my country of birth is not my greatest blessing after all.
I’m very thankful I was born in Australia but I am even more thankful I have never had to endure discrimination because of my colour or genetic features. More than that – I am extremely thankful I have never had to watch my children suffer any kind of prejudice!
Perhaps, I thought, my greatest blessings are the colour of my skin and my genetic inheritance but then I thought about other things.
What good would having a genetic inheritance that isn’t discriminated against be if I were blind or deaf or paralyzed or had any one of the many possible physical deformities or illnesses that are discriminated against?
At that point I gave up trying to make an orderly list and decided my greatest blessing is having so many things to be thankful for that I can’t make an orderly list of them!!!