What makes a day good? Is it waking, after not quite enough sleep to draw close to ones I love, to feel on one side my husband's scratchy beard and on the other my young son's smooth little boy skin? To stay in pajamas until 9, and cuddle and tickle and plant kisses on one son's cheek or the other?
Is it a quiet day at home after weeks of chaos, broken only by meeting friends at the park, errand running in the heat of the day? Is it laughter in the back seat, or silence later, when the head pounds and a furry kitty comforts?
Could goodness be understanding how good I really have it? This life where medicine is readily available and modern treatments save my son's life daily? Is a good day when I really understand the privileges of living in a place where I am free... to be who I am and not be afraid for my life- or my children's- on a daily basis?
When my children laugh wildly til my head throbs I remember- there are some places where there is no laughter. Places where the young have their innocence shattered and what remains is only silent weeping. Countries where women and children are sold as chattel- attributed worth only of things- not souls precious and priceless.
My boys are privileged. We have a roof over our heads and food to eat, and nice clothes to wear- and more toys than we really need. All of us (adults included). My friend Tiffany speaks of "First world problems"... and I know there are places when suffering is more than difficult co-workers or the rush of running behind. Suffering is armed soldiers taking sons away against their will to fight gory wars, and taking daughters away to be a different kind of slave. And knowing that human trafficking is alive and well in this country, too.
My heart hurts for all the good I've known, while others have not. This is not a time for guilt, NO. This is a time to recognize that while there have been many struggles in my first world life- legitimate issues to grieve and work through, there are others who've seen the depravity of man in ways that I can't quite grasp. I want to make a difference. I want to step out of this comfortable existence and be a part of setting the prisoners free.
Perspective is the first step, entwined with understanding how very much I've been given. The next is the willingness to give it away. To let go of fancy things and another pair of shoes, so feet raw from stones and dirt can be healed. To turn away from excess, so hearts bleeding under exploitation can know the balm of freedom and find release from darkness.
This Independence Day, may I be freed from selfishness, ungratefulness, and the demands of a worldly appetite. May my heart be moved by the goodness of God, flooded with willingness to share this abundance with those whose needs gape wide. Truly, I have more than enough.
Through gratitude my eyes are opened to the richness of life. Through giving, God will rebuild places long devastated, renewing ruined hearts, even those laid waste for generations. May I not take for granted this freedom, bought for me at such a cost... blood spilt two thousand years ago, and still fought for, daily, in places far away, and close by, too.