It’s the 4th of July. A holiday marked by blowing stuff up, wearing some combination of red/white/blue, and eating inordinate amounts of food. Of course, there’s also the historical significance of the day, as it was on this day when our first Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence. (The actual vote to approve the Declaration occurred two days earlier on July 2nd, but July 4th became the day that we celebrate-much to the dismay of John Adams) Either way, Independence Day in America serves as a reminder of our history, a celebration of what we have accomplished, and an embodiment of the freedoms that we do enjoy. While some of our celebrations seem a bit absurd (seriously, who decided to televise a bunch of guys eating hot dogs), the holiday could also be a valuable time of reflection, gratitude, and thankfulness.
America is by no means a perfect nation. This past year has illuminated that for us pretty clearly. Contrary to what our bright, “All-American” celebrations may portray, we are not a country that is void of disease, poverty, hatred, and misfortune. Today there are people all around us, facing a challenge that doesn’t seem fireworks worthy. We have to recognize these things, and we have to be working towards alleviating these problems. With all of that being said, I also think we would be remiss if we did not take some time this 4th of July to express gratitude for both the inconsequential and monumental things that can provide even the smallest morsel of joy. I hope you will join me in expressing some of the things you are grateful, no matter how big or small. Here are just a few things that I am especially grateful for today:
- Baseball. And my generous host family that invited me to join them for the Mariners game yesterday in their suite. Whether I’m sitting in the stadium, watching the game at home, or playing wiffle ball with friends, I think baseball is pretty rad.
- Freedom. Alright, this feels like a given/cliche on the 4th of July, but it is true. I never want to take for granted the fact that I can openly read my Bible in a coffee shop amidst people who sometimes refer to the God that I worship as an angry spaghetti monster in the sky. Say what you want about the “persecution” of faith in America, but I don’t think we realize what a rare thing we have here.
- Airplanes. Later this week I get to hop on a plane and fly to Anchorage, Alaska to visit my awesome girlfriend for a few days. On Wednesday I get to start my day in one awesome state and end it in another. Seriously, airplanes are the coolest!
- Eggs. I have had eggs for all three meals of the day on more than one occasion. What a versatile little delicacy. And shout out to Safeway for selling a dozen of them for $1.39.
- Generosity. Since moving to Washington I have been blown away by how gracious people have been to me. I have been treated to awesome meals, picked up for work almost every day, been loaned cars both for the short term and the long term, been invited to incredible experiences, and given a place to call home.
- Coffee. It’s the coolest. Sometimes the hottest.
- Fireworks. Alright, I know they are excessive, totally unnecessary, and I’m still a little unsure how they came to be associated with our freedom, but don’t act like you don’t get pumped to see big bright explosions fill the sky.
This is not an attempt at an exhaustive list of everything I am grateful for. Its also not even a “these are the things that I am MOST grateful for.” These are just a few small things that I am thankful for today, and I wanted to take the time to appreciate them.
Today, somewhere in between bites of hot dog and stuffing your face with watermelon, talk to the people around you about some things that you are grateful for today. Let’s actually think about some of the things that we are celebrating.
What’s on your list?