Have you ever really sat down and thought about all the things in your life that you’re grateful for? Sometimes, I find that it’s difficult to stay aware of all the blessings in life. It’s so easy to get bogged down by the things we wish we could change; the things we wish we had; the things we wish we could do…

I was convicted of having such thoughts after reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaleed Hoseini (the author of The Kite Runner). I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t read it, but I strongly encourage you to check it out. The book chronicles three decades of civil war, anti-Soviet jihad and Taliban infiltration in Afghanistan through the eyes of two women whose stories are vividly painted in the pages of one of the toughest (content-wise) novels I’ve read. It’s a story of pain, turmoil, and death, but also strength, courage, conviction and passion, and in the midst of all of the ugliness present in the protagonists’ lives, they are thankful–for the smallest of things.

One quote from the book that really struck me was about Rasheed, both women’s abusive husband. In describing his abuse, the narrator states, “There was no cursing, no screaming, no pleading, no surprised yelps, only the systematic business of beating and being beaten.” They had been abused for so many years that they were nearly numb to it–as was he. And the culture permitted such heinous acts. Women in Afghanistan at the time were so unbelievable dependent on the men in their lives–fathers, brothers and sons–often not permitted to leave their homes without a male relative escort. How could they advance in society? By giving birth to a son.

Can you imagine? I know there are quite a few women who read this blog–men too. If you haven’t read the book, just think about it for a moment. Picturing myself in a situation like that really puts things into perspective.

Suddenly, I’m not so consumed with the clothes I don’t have…or my complexion…or the fact that my family lives so far away. When I read that book, it was as though a growing spotlight began to shine on every single incredible thing I have in my life that I too often take for granted.

I have a great apartment, a car that’s paid off, a full closet and a stocked fridge.

I have a compassionate husband, a family that loves me and David, great friends here in the Burgh and a wonderful church home.

This Christmas, I’ll have a tree, lights, garland and presents under the tree.

I have security, the ability and drive to pursue my dreams, the freedom to worship as I want, when I want.

I have Christ.

I have so many, many wonderful things, and entering into this time of the year, I plan to focus on those things. I’ll focus on those soft whispers of gratitude in my soul that are fighting against a society screaming you need more. Because, quite frankly, I don’t.

I have every reason to be completely and utterly filled with joy, amazement, gratitude. And I am. Are you?