I read my friends’ blogs before I write my own, usually.  Sometimes all I have the opportunity to do is read.  It’s OK.  Value here, in the blog world, comes from the quality of friendships that are cultivated here, rather than the volume of writing that is produced.  That statement is my personality type coming out, as it rings true in nearly (if not all) all aspects of my life.

Blessings are funneled through the people in my life.

If I didn’t realize that simple little truth, I might be feeling a tad bit inadequate.  After all, if I focused on the things that I have it would be real easy to be consumed with envy.  My home is very modest, small by some standards (1024 square feet), furnished comfortably and tastefully Goodwill.  It’s quiet and serene, with a large balcony that spans the width of my living room and dining room, with a peaceful view, and an huge wood burning fireplace.  I drive a Subaru.  That car rocks and is a cool ride.  Clothing would be more if a priority if I wasn’t supporting a college student.  Friends tell me I have a good shirt collection.  The bikes I have are nice, plentiful, several steps above department store quality, but all but one were purchased used or rescued from the scrap heap.  They all ride like a dream, and the carbon mountain bike I purchased a few months ago is sweet beyond sweetness.

Those bikes exposed me to quite a few people who are wealthy,  with many very nice and expensive things — houses, cars, etc….  Comparing myself to them could be quite a downer.  Over the years, especially when I was younger, struggling to support a family, envy and resentment often were a struggle.  Thankfully, I was close enough to those guys, especially one guy, to realize what a hold those things had on them.  The fear of losing them was real and it kept many of them from seeing the true blessings in their lives.  That fear affected their decisions and character, sometimes prevented them from getting close to others as they were exposed to that same envy and resentment that I felt, knew what a burden that wealth put on them.  One friend, who I just happened to work for, ultimately let that fear ruin our friendship.

I should clarify that one.  He owns several houses, mansions by most standards.  More than one Porsche, a Bentley, a Maserati, and several other vehicles.  Many of his bicycles cost well over $10K.  He rents a condo at a place called Iron Gate, just for his vehicles — it’s a condo where it’s against the rules to live there!  His employees recognized his penchant for extravagance, mainly because he didn’t hide it, and most resented him because their compensation was less than generous (mine wasn’t, I know).  When business seemed to be taking a downswing, the person he chose to run his business started targeting long term employees and put extreme pressure on those employees.  A lot were fired.  I was one of those employees, a few months away from my 25 year company anniversary when I was fired in dramatic fashion.  I had never been given anything but glowing performance reviews.  When I saw what was being done to me, I asked that friend, a man I had ridden countless tours with and shared his life, to talk to me about what was going on.  “What do you expect me to do about it?” was his reply.  His heart was in the things he owned, in preserving those things and not losing them, not in the people who had helped make those things possible.  His treasure was in his treasures.. and he wasn’t happy or satisfied.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus knocked it out of the park with that one.  I understand what he is talking about more and more each year that I live.  Realizing that the things I have are blessings, and important, but that the blessings really are far more than what I can touch or see, is one of the most valuable lessons that life has taught me.  Each day that I am able to be aware of the myriad of blessings being tossed my way is a good day.  I have to be aware or I am going to miss recognizing some.  That is something I have had to learn.

The last two years since my divorce have been a time where I have had to reach out to my creator.  I realize now that a lot of the crap in my life was preventing me from seeing that I am truly blessed.  The friends I have now are true friends, people I believe that creator have blessed me with, the people who either stuck with me when my marriage fell apart or came closer to me when I needed them.  Some have a lot of wealth, but they have learned the lesson that makes them value my friendship, don’t fear my envy, let me be their friend because it’s not their stuff that makes them valuable to me.  Others are in the same boat as I am, modestly blessed with things, content with what they have.

When I look at myself now, I feel very wealthy.  God is good.  He has taught me where my treasures are.

May you be thankful today.  May your thanks come from where your heart is.  If you need to be reminded of your blessings, may today be the day when that reminder becomes reality.

Happy Thanksgiving!