Every Day is a Gift

Most of us live our lives as slaves to the regrets of the past and the fears of tomorrow. We forget about making the most out of today….. this hour, this minute. The sad thing is most people never realize this fact until they, or a close loved one face a life threatening situation. Why do we take every day for granted? We see tragedies occurring all around us every day, but unless it’s something that affects us at a personal level, we rarely change our behavior to treat each day as a gift. We get so caught up in worrying about our own failures in the past, or trying to make things perfect in our own little ideological world, or complaining about why we don’t have the things we want, that we don’t take the time to be happy with what we do have.

We have been given an incredible gift and we set if off the side and ignore it, just like a spoiled brat on a sugar high, surrounded by way too many gifts and way too many over indulgent birthday party guests.

There is a great story in Marci Shimoff’s book, “Happy For No Reason”, that truly exemplifies what it means to be happy with what you have now, to appreciate the “gift” of today, and to live in the present. She tells of a high school graduate that took a year off to travel and study anthropology. This young girl went to Bangladesh and while there discovered there was a widespread famine that was causing illness and death across the country. She was on a bus and was traveling through the countryside when it started raining heavily and flooding so bad that the bus had to pull off the road. In this area, there were hundreds of people, mostly children, barefoot and dressed in rags, lying on the ground dying. She got off the bus and was approached by a man who looked like everyone else in Bangladesh except that he was smiling broadly. The girl asked this man how he could be smiling in such a situation and he replied, “A smile is all I have to give.” The man coaxed her to follow him and the two spent the next ten hours walking through the field singing to one person after the other as they lay dying. Without a penny, this man eased the suffering of hundreds of people by offering his love and joy and she named him the “Smiling Man”. In the years since, she vowed to make it a priority to be as happy as possible and to share that happiness with everyone she met.

Stories like that really make you pause and consider what a great gift it is to be alive today, and how lucky we really are. You may not have the perfect job, perfect house, perfect relationship, or perfect body, but at least you are not lying on the side of the road dying. There are a lot of people who are!

We need to stop acting like spoiled brats and start appreciating today’s gift! To help me do that for myself, I say this little prayer each morning.

Lord, help me treat every day like a beautifully wrapped gift given each morning when I wake. May I always receive the gift with childlike joy and remember to give you thanks. Help me unwrap the gift moment by moment, cherishing and savoring every nuance of this day with family, friends, and fellow man. Let me focus not on yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s fears, but on today’s gift. Show me how to use the gift as it was intended so I might wear it out for your glory. Then at days end, let me put that worn gift on the shelf knowing that it had been used to its fullest, and go to sleep with fervent gratitude and the hope for tomorrow’s gift.