Tonight, I am counting my blessings.
I’m not in a great mood; I’m tired and worn out from a long year of working hard in school, stressed about church and other non-school obligations, and missing the time I had with my parents last week.
But tonight, I am counting my blessings.
Over the summer, I heard a talk in Sacrament meeting in church in which a girl referenced a talk given at a devotional at the LDS business college in 2002. Last weekend, I told my parents what I remembered about the talk, and was inspired to find the full text of it. It’s called “The Prince of Glory” and was given by Bruce Porter. I highly recommend that everyone (and I meaneveryone) read the full text of the talk. It has completely changed the way I view my Savior and the Atonement.
Anyhow, at the end of the talk, Brother Porter shares a story that I’ve been thinking about a lot:
We lived in Washington D.C. and I arrived home just a few days before Christmas. I think I arrived home on a Friday, and I arrived at Dulles airport, hailed a taxi, and as we pulled out on the Washington beltway, we hit the biggest, worst traffic jam I have ever seen. Every one was trying to get home for Christmas, and it was a Friday, the end of the week, and the holiday was beginning, and everybody was trying to leave town.
I’m not a terribly patient person, especially when I’m in traffic. So, as we drove along, I started to fidget and fume, and I kept saying to the taxi driver, “Try that lane, move over there, no, go over there, try that, and of course it didn’t matter which lane you switched into, they always slowed down most in that lane. You know what that’s like. So we just dragged along, and it took us nearly an hour to get to my exit in Virginia. And by the time we got there and off the exit, there was another traffic jam, and I started fuming and fidgeting and making suggestions to the taxi driver. All of a sudden, he turned around and looked right at me, and he said, “Sir, there’s no reason to be upset about a traffic jam.” And then he turned around.
I thought, “Hmpph. Am I paying you or are you paying me?”
And he sensed, maybe, that I was a little bit miffed, and he turned around, and he said, “Sir, forgive me. But you see, I come from another planet.”
I thought, “Oh, great.” And I said to him, “All right, just what planet do you come from?”
And then he turned, and I will never forget this. He said, “Sir, I am from Afghanistan.” At that time the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan, and there was a war going on, just like today. He said, “I am from Afghanistan, and if you had seen the things that I have seen, if you had seen villages bombed, people starving, and men and women and children fleeing for their lives, if you had seen war and destruction on every side, if you had seen all that, you would not worry about a traffic jam.”
And then he turned around, and didn’t say another word. And his words pierced me. I realized that I was going home to a wonderful family, in affluent conditions, and we were going to celebrate Christmas together. I realized that I had everything in the world a person could possibly have, including the gospel of Jesus Christ. And there I was, worrying about a traffic jam, which didn’t mean anything.
I’m a pretty naive girl. I’ve had a lot of experiences in my life, and yet still hardly glimpsed a fraction of all that this world has to offer and teach me. Stories like this, statements that remind me of how blessed I am to be in the place I am now, help rough days seem easier.
School is tough? Millions of people will never have the chance to go to college.
It’s stressful trying to juggle church, volunteering, and a social life along with class? I’ve been blessed with a knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, chances to serve others and give back to the world, and the friendship of people who care for and support me.
It’s hot outside? I have a home to come to where I have food, running water, shelter, and security, not to mention air conditioning. What a huge luxury compared to all those in the world who don’t even have their basic needs met.
It’s amazing how humbling it can be just to take a step back from complaining and look at all of the incredible things that surround us. I know I take it for granted far too often. And I know when I go to bed tonight, I will still be praying for a better day tomorrow, and for the Lord’s comfort and strength to get through. But I will also be thanking Him.
Because tonight, I am counting my blessings.