I have been the recipient of many gifts in the course of my life. I was given a loving extended family, a mother who sacrificed much for me, and a stepfather who has done the same. I was given a good immune system, natural athleticism, a strong will, and high innate intelligence. I was given the opportunity to learn and grow, to laugh and play, to spend far too much time with my head in a book, to waste hours on a computer.
And now, as I reflect on all that I have been given, I find that I do not have the words in my vocabulary to express the level of gratitude that I feel in my heart for all of those gifts. Were it not for those gifts that I was given when I did not at all deserve them, I would not be in a position to write this. Were it not for the gifts of health and intelligence, I would never have been able to do all the stupid things I did in college and still graduate with a degree in English. Were it not for the gift of time to spend on books and computers while my parents did all the work around the house, I would not have nearly the amount of useless information that I currently possess. Those gifts were misused or taken for granted, and that was a horrific mistake on my part that I was not able to see until it was far too late.
The gifts that I have used well have not been what most people consider gifts. I received the gift of a dislocated kneecap, a torn ligament, and a fractured wrist. From which I learned the value of taking better care of my body. I received the gift of low blood sugar and a natural tendency to retain body fat, from which I have learned the value of a regimented diet. I received the gift of a broken heart, from which I learned to take greater care with the hearts of others. I received the gift of failure, from which I learned how to succeed. I received the gift of depression, from which I learned the value of joy. I received the gifts of angry and hateful people, from which I learned the importance of peace and loving treatment.
The suffering I have experienced in my life has been just as much a gift as the freedoms and capacities that I was granted through the sufferings of others. Many gifts spring from suffering. The lessons I’ve learned have often come from suffering as well as the Christmas gifts given by my grandfather, who earned the money for those gifts through harsh toil in the mines.
There is no need to enjoy suffering, but it is good to appreciate the many gifts it brings to us.