Thankfulness is a Matter of Perspective
A week from today, most Americans will sit down to a table overflowing with enough food to feed the entire neighborhood, let alone one extended family.
Since Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, it is easy to forget that the rest of the world won’t be breaking bread with us—nor will many have enough to eat for that day.
It reminds me of what our pastor related that he heard from bestselling author and pastor Jim Cymbala on a trip to New York to visit the Brooklyn Tabernacle: “One thing you need to do is get out of this country. Then you’ll understand that, compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. is Disneyland.”
I thought about that comment recently as I surveyed our rather bleak state of finances.
An editing job that I expected to tackle in October as soon as we returned from vacation didn’t materialize.
While I received another offer the day we returned, it didn’t pay nearly as much. Last month ended as the worst of 2017 for income.
This result came on the heels of learning the cracks in a bedroom wall are evidence of a foundational problem that could get expensive.
I have a small prayer team that I send a letter to each month, outlining progress on various projects and listing the things I’ll be working on in the month ahead.
One guy is a writer as well, although he fits various projects into his fulltime job (actually, 1.5 jobs, since he is also an interim pastor right now). We had met in person a number of years ago on a trip to the Atlanta area for a writers conference.
After mentioning my current struggles, I added the thought that things could be worse. I mentioned two editors who worked at the agency that had hosted the conference where the two of us met.
One of them is no longer able to do much because of his ongoing battle with ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). My wife and I recently made a donation in his name to a fundraising walk in Atlanta.
The other has been sidelined by a disabling stroke. Although reportedly getting better, another editor at that agency told me recently he will no longer be able to do the kind of writing and editing that he had done for years.
In the case of both men, we first made contact more than 25 years ago. The work they sent me in my early days of fulltime freelancing literally helped us survive.
I’m also grateful to the second for the impromptu one-hour workshop he held for writers who weren’t involved in a special project.
That one-hour session resulted in so many useful writing tips that I later typed up the notes I took and pasted them on my office wall as ever-present reminders.
I told a friend about this experience and that, while knowing about these two editors didn’t necessarily make our setbacks any easier to deal with, it certainly helped me keep perspective.
This is an important issue when weighing whatever problem, you’re struggling with. Compared to the rest of the world, or just compared to the person on the poor side of town who struggles to keep the rent paid and food on the table, you’ve likely got it pretty good.
So, if you have enough to eat and family or friends to share it with, it’s worth giving thanks.