It stopped me in my tracks the day we came home from the hospital with our newborn son.
We had finally gotten all the necessary tests and checks done, our stuff was stowed in the van and the baby was sleeping, snuggly strapped in his car seat. We said good-bye to the nurse who’d helped us pack up and we were off, out of the maternity ward, down the hall, in the elevator and down to main floor.
We had just exited the elevator onto the main floor and were greeted with the hustle and bustle of the food court and main area. We’d taken a few steps out of the elevator when suddenly a girl about my daughter’s age and a tall black-haired woman I assumed to be the girl’s mom rushed in front of us.
I breathed an ‘I’m sorry’ to them as I quickly stepped out of the way.
The woman was sobbing and had her hand by her face, wiping tears, as she held her little girl’s hand and rushed down the hall. The girl looked confused, unsure of what was happening as she hurried along with the woman.
I glanced around but all I could see was an older couple, perhaps grandparents, following a ways behind, pushing an empty hospital wheelchair with a bag or two on it.
What was the situation? Was someone very sick? Had they received crushing news? Did a loved one die? I would never know.
And at that moment it hit me. Why her? Why them? That could be me. That could be my girl.
But it’s not.
We are so, so blessed.
My little girl knows nothing about the death of someone close to her. She knows very little about any kind of suffering.
None of us do in fact.
The whole idea of being in a hospital at such a happy time suddenly struck me as such a strange, inappropriate paradox.
All around us people had family or friends who were sick, many no doubt extremely ill, some terminally, others who had impossibly difficult decisions to make, questions to face and goodbyes to say. Why were we there?
Today we were going home. To two dearly loved children of our own and now a perfect, healthy, brand-new third baby.
Home to family and our sheltered, wonderful life. Such peace, such perfection.
In a flash of clarity, I had a vivid mental picture of how infinitely blessed we are. When all the trappings of the everyday fall away and the minor complaints and disappointments we experience are discarded, I saw clearly that what remained was a rich life of privilege and comfort that few people ever attain.
While we went home to our comfy life, this little girl at the hospital – what would she go home to? It seemed so cruel and unfair.
Grief and sorrow just seems too much for any six-year-old. My heart broke for her and for her mom and their story, whatever it was. For all those – the throngs of people that surrounded me – who patiently sat by loved ones, who bravely said goodbye, who anxiously awaited news.
And somehow it all seemed so unfair. So very, very unfair.
We live such a perfect and gloriously wonderful life. And I knew in that moment that whatever problems I might be encountering, they are much less painful than that of those who are grieving and suffering and saying good-bye all too soon to loved ones, returning to empty, lonely houses or perhaps dealing with abuse, poverty, neglect and despair.
Certainly my troubles could not compare to the difficulties of those who have no faith in God to sustain them.
Instead of these difficulties however, we go home with a healthy, brand-new baby to celebration, to peace and joy and love.
We are so blessed.
May I never forget it.
Even when I grow short-sighted in the days ahead and view my world through sleep-encrusted eyes and a sense of overwhelm and fatigue.
Even, with God’s help, when it’s our turn to grieve or suffer.
Instead of whining and grumbling, may I weigh my petty grievances against the weight of innumerable blessings such as those I experienced today.
May I take a step back, if just for a moment, and choose to honestly evaluate my life, to see the blessings woven through every moment and to gain perspective as I deal with the daily challenges that arise.
May I never lose appreciation for the rare privileges I enjoy. May their significance not be lost on me but may I instead willingly accept the responsibility that comes with them and reach out to others, happy to share of the wealth I am so undeserving of.