I think one thing we can all agree on is that this election has been crazy. I want to preface this before I start, this post has nothing to do with me being happy/unhappy about the election. With Veterans Day quickly approaching and Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’m choosing to be thankful for the things that I have as an American.
I spent two years in my early twenties as a missionary. I’ve traveled to 31 countries. I’ve seen just about every injustice known to man and met people that have endured more than I could imagine. These people and countries are very dear to my heart, but visiting these places made me aware of rights I have as an American, that many people don’t. So these are the things that America has that I am thankful for today.
1. I am thankful that I have access to clean water. When I was in an African country, a woman told me that 99% of her problems would be solved with clean water. “If we only had water, we could plant a community garden. All the teenagers could work in it and they would be tired at the end of the day. They would go home and sleep instead of getting in trouble, and doing sexually promiscuous things because they have nothing to do.” People are dying because of starvation and AIDS. I am thankful today for water.
2. I am thankful I got an education. Yes, I grew up in one of the best school systems in the nation, but even if I hadn’t, America offers the chance to get a free public education through grade 12. I’ve met many kids around the world who will never get the chance to go to school. Ever. And they would kill for that chance.
3. I am thankful I live in a country with democracy. I got to vote. Even as a woman, I have a voice.
4. I am thankful I got to choose my husband. I’ve seen a lot of beautifully arranged marriages and I’m really glad it works for some people. But I am thankful that I got to choose Nate.
5. I am thankful I have access to healthcare. Now, in no way am I saying that I’m thrilled with our healthcare system, but I once visited a baby hospital where rows and rows of babies were lined up barely moving. Their bodies burned my hands to touch. Most of them would never make it past the first few weeks of life.
6. I am thankful I have food that is nutritious and abundant. I can walk into a grocery store and choose from 50 types of cereal, and while I’m not 100% sure that is a good thing, I’m happy to have access to enough food to keep me alive (and then some!)
7. I am thankful I have career options. In Asia, I hang out with women who felt they had no choice but sell themselves to men to make money for their families. And some of those women didn’t choose it.
8. I am thankful I live in a country where people with disabilities matter. I spent a month in one country where children with disabilities are abandoned into an “invalid orphanage” and never touched. Babies that have never been held. I’m happy we have organizations like the “Special Olympics” and accommodations in schools. I am thankful for Non-profits who are funded well enough to help them further.
Now, there are many things that these countries have that America doesn’t, and I specifically didn’t name countries because I really love the nations. But today I am choosing to focus on what I have in America. I am proud to be a citizen of this country. Do I agree with every decision the White House makes? Of course not! Will I fight for an issue that I believe in? You bet I will. But I will choose to be thankful throughout the process. I’ve wasted too many years focusing on what I don’t have, and it’s time to be thankful for what I do have.
And thank you to our veterans who put their lives on the line every day for our freedom. I notice you, and although I could never understand your sacrifice, I am thankful for it.