For Granted


I take life for granted.

I try really hard not to, but I know I do.

On the daily.

I try to soak it all up and enjoy the simple things—breathe deep—whatever other trendy ways there are of saying it—

I notice and appreciate neon pink sunsets and I even write about them sometimes, or obviously post about them on IG. About how thankful I am for sunsets and sweet moments. But did I actually appreciate the moment or did I waste it posting? Do I gasp at the pink painted sky because I know and adore the one who left it there for me or because I know it will be my most liked photo of the week? Do I ever look at the sunset with grave awareness that it could be the last time I view it from this angle, or do I post right past it expecting the sun to rise a million more times—not ever really grasping what I should have actually been grateful for in that moment?

I try to be thankful for resources and to make the most of them by living a healthy lifestyle. I mention in passing prayers that I’m thankful to be able to attend boutique studio classes…. but do I ever stop and marvel in gratitude that I’ve been given a body that can miraculously do all of these things—-run, jump, row—

I try to be intentional about making time for family. About phone calls and cross country flights for Christmas. I try to let them know that I love them and that I’m grateful for them. But. Am I thankful selfishly? That they are always just a phone call away? Am I ever just grateful to know them and to be able to love them for whatever amount of time I get to?

There are a couple of pretty cliche sayings about gratitude. I’m sure more than a couple, but these two come to mind.

“You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

“What if you woke up tomorrow with only what you said thank you for today?”

I take life for granted. My gratitude is only surface level on so many occasions.
Here’s how I know. 

Because if I understood, like really really got it, I would be saying a tearful thank you between every breath—every time I felt my heart thump in my chest. I would stare at those sunsets and hug my family like I might never get to again, because I might not. Because every 24 hour period that my lungs take in air and my heart pumps blood through my veins is a gift. And I know we say that too, a lot, but have we ever really soaked that in? What we’re actually saying. If I actually believed that every day was a gift and actually believed that I could have none of it tomorrow, would I go about those days the same way? Maybe sometimes, but on the whole I’d say no.

That’s the conundrum of life, of our humanity.

While I should be opening my eyes to every new day thankful already that I’m seeing the sun shine again and that my heart and my lungs and all of the intricacies of my body have carried me to another day, instead I want to close them tightly and stay in the dark warmth of the covers. I complain about waking up early and so often I miss sunrises. Without even acknowledging it I push it aside and assume there will be another one tomorrow and ten years from now and I can wake up to see them then. I complain about work and forget that whatever job I’m going to is God’s modern day manna to me—his kind provision. That he made me able to do any work in the first place. I rush through days anxious to go back to sleep. Why? Because “there’s always tomorrow.”

I can eat better, live better, love better tomorrow.

But what if I can’t? What if today is it? Is this how I want to go out?

Lately I’ve found myself lying in bed at night still and quiet and so aware of my breath and my pulse and my heart beat. So aware that at any moment they could suddenly halt. My heart could stop beating and my veins stop moving the blood and my lungs fail to inhale and exhale. So aware that I have no control over any of it.

And then I’m grateful. Really grateful.

And reminded that gratitude is not just about not taking for granted my iPhone or my nice place in the city. That it’s not about obligatory thank you prayers and sunset posts on social media.

It’s recognizing that gratitude is something I should breath in and breathe out. Literally and figuratively. A state of being. It’s an awareness that if the Creator of the Universe wasn’t first kind enough and big enough to let my heart thump and my lungs breathe millions of times a day, I wouldn’t even have the chance to take the rest of it for granted.

I guess I am not sure where to end this. Only to say that our gratitude has to go deeper, down to the roots and back to the source. Past things and needs met and quick fixes that save us time and inconveniences. (For the record, I’m mostly talking to my own heart here and hoping it finds you as well.) We have to start at the simplest things, the things we take for granted, the things that aren’t so simple when we finally grasp the kindness of the Creator behind them, that aren’t things at all.

I take life for granted.

But I’m trying my hardest not to.


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