Hensley to Heart: Appreciation for the Good Things of Life

Published 3:00 pm Saturday, April 2, 2022

I lay down last night in a comfortable bed, with a soft pillow, and warm covers.

I have food in the cabinets and refrigerator. I have retirement income. My house is small, but secure. I have a sturdy roof and foundation.

The temperature was just right. I had no fear, no hunger, no disease. I went to sleep listening to a minister on my I-Phone and slept like a baby.

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This is my life. This is my normal right now.

When I woke up, I was very much aware of those blessings. I felt appreciation sweep through me like a wave of realization for the things I so often take for granted.

I thought of those in third world nations who live in a constant state of lack and of the war-torn countries who have had these comforts ripped away from them and I felt a degree of shame for myself and for our nation about how we fail to appreciate the many, many blessings that are ours.

Any number of the blessings we take for granted today could be gone tomorrow. Tornados, flooding, divorce, job loss, war, or critical illnesses are all things that can happen realistically that would upend a comfortable life.

Freedom to worship is a tremendous privilege in our nation, yet churches sit half full or even empty because that practice is too often taken for granted. People may acknowledge the reality of God but they put off having relationship with him or practicing their faith and think they’ll get around to it when it’s more convenient for them.

Good health is a gift that no one truly realizes until they go through an illness or injury personally or have to watch a loved one go through an ailment that changes everything. We fail to appreciate youth, strength, beauty, and a body that works well until time and circumstances take a toll.

Financial stability is another area of life that we take for granted when we have it. A steady job with adequate pay to cover all of life’s expenses is a wonderful thing. Continued income through a retirement system is also a tremendous blessing. It is easy for people to lose sight of companies that downsize, close, go bankrupt, or life changes that leave them broke. Only then do they realize that the job they hated may not have been so bad after all.

Marriages and family relationships seem to be an area of life most taken for granted. As a long ago divorced adult, I often find myself in amazement and frustration as an outside observer of the way people treat each other inside of marriage. Too many married couples are divided by careers, time schedules, and pampering children and their social calendars. I grew up in an era where the relationship between husband and wife was the bedrock of the family and everything else came out of that stability.

Family members often take each other for granted. The grandmother who cooks, cleans, and takes care of her grandchildren is often unappreciated. The hard-working dad or the hard-working mom who faces a demanding job every day is just expected to continue to do so and keep the money flowing in to support everyone else’s needs.

The Oxford definition of appreciation includes the following: recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something; a full understanding of a situation; gratitude.

None of us want to find ourselves realizing how much we should have appreciated something after it is gone and can never be regained as in health, relationships, finances, jobs, homes, or expressions of faith. Not only should we embrace the attitude of appreciation in our daily lives, but when and while we have the opportunity to express it, we should not fail to do so.

Judith Victoria Hensley is a retired teacher, writer, photographer and columnist for over 25 years for Harlan Enterprise.