I rushed out the door with my son Kal one fall morning, trying to get him to school on time. As I started down the hill of our leaf-covered driveway, I sensed that something just wasn’t right with my vision. It took entirely too long to realize that a lens had popped out of my glasses. Driving with one good eye and one bad eye seemed to be more dangerous than simply removing my glasses.
Kal always took his morning flag-raising duties seriously. I didn’t want to make him late. There was no time to go back and find the missing lens. I took my glasses off and drove on. “Dad, can you even see without your glasses?” Actually I couldn’t see well at all. But I knew the route well, and I could at least make out images of large things like cars.
As a kid I never really understood if Mister Magoo was actually blind, or if he just couldn’t see. I knew he caused a lot of cartoon chaos behind the wheel of his car, but I was pretty sure he never caused any real harm. So I drove on. “Yeah Kal, I can see good enough.”
After dropping Kal off at school, I drove back towards our home to hopefully recover my missing lens. I knew there were only about two million freshly fallen leaves covering our driveway, and I was pretty sure the lens was somewhere in the middle of them.
My mind wandered as I realized how poor my vision had suddenly become and how I was struggling just to drive. Thoughts drifted back to a time nearly twenty years ago. Sobering memories rushed in of a time when my heart was full of gratitude.
I remember so plainly becoming a father for the first time. The feelings of awe. Experiencing in the most powerful way just how loving and awesome God truly is. And getting a new glimpse of how small and powerless I am.
Those first times walking the floor at all hours of the night with a crying baby. Feeling helpless as to what I was doing, unable to console our crying bundle of joy. Singing, whispering, talking, and trying anything to get our firstborn Macy to stop crying and go back to sleep.
And praying. “Thank you Lord for this precious child. Thank you that I have legs to walk, to carry her across this floor. Thank you that I have ears to hear her cries. Thank you that I have arms and hands to hold her. Thank you for the privilege of being her daddy. Thank you for this roof over our heads and food to eat. And thank you that I HAVE EYES TO SEE this precious child.
But something happened to that grateful heart over time. With child #2, #3, and #4, those constant feelings of parental uncertainty and fear diminished with experience, knowledge and lessons learned along the way. I suppose routine and comfort tend to nudge away that feeling of closeness to and dependence on God that we feel in times of fear and uncertainty. And I guess that life can become so full that we are so busy worshiping God’s blessings that we fail to honor the One who provided them.
It turns out that my missing lens was in the seat of my truck the whole time. As I was popping it back into the frame, it became obvious what a lousy “blessing counter” I had become.
I can’t run, but I can walk. I can’t use my right arm well, but I can use my left arm well (just not with skill). I have pain, but I’m just uncomfortable and not miserable. I struggle terribly with sleep, but I have a real mattress in a home with heating and air conditioning. I know where my next meal is coming from. And I know Jesus as my savior. Shame on me if I utter complaints.
It’s all relative. I don’t have problems, I have inconveniences and disruptions. If I allow myself to complain about what I can’t do instead of being thankful for the things that I can do, I risk crushing the spirit of a grateful heart.