The Things I Take for Granted
by Lauren Madsen
I don’t know what is going on where you live, but the housing market in Utah has been crazy the past several months. A few weeks back I was chatting with my cousin about how hard it has been for her and her husband to buy a home. Within hours of being listed, multiple buyers make offers (often site unseen) way above asking price. As I talked with her about how difficult that must be, I said to her, “I wish I could do something to help you. I wish I had a contact or an ‘in’ of some kind.” It took me just a few seconds to recognize my error and I quickly stumbled into, “Well, God is a pretty good connection...” And then I told her I would continue to pray for them.
Honestly I felt a little silly after our conversation. Why is it that when I have access to a loving and powerful Father through prayer I am sometimes slow to see it for the miraculous blessing it is? Why is it that sometimes it is my last resort instead of my first thought? Why when I look for solutions to problems do I so often look around instead of up?
The definition of taking things for granted is failure to properly appreciate something, especially as a result of overfamiliarity. Since the conversation with my cousin I have been noticing the things I sometimes fail to appreciate. Here are a few examples:
- Back in 2020 when the world shut down, I quickly learned that being able to spend face-to-face time with friends and family is truly a gift. I spent months away from those I love and now that we are able to be with others more I am starting again to take for granted the gift it is.
- Wildfires from Oregon and California have completely changed the air quality all over the west for most of the summer. I know throughout my life I have stepped out into blue skies and fresh air thousands of times without even thinking about it, because it was just a regular day--I didn’t even realize what I had. Now that clear skies are the exception and smoky skies the norm, I notice each clear day and my appreciation for them has gone way up.
- When the power goes out, it doesn’t take long for me to ponder on the blessing of electricity. I don’t usually think about it until that moment when I flip the switch and nothing happens.
- I didn’t used to think much of each day I woke up headache free until I began to experience frequent headaches so painful that I was forced to spend the rest of the day in bed. Now after another bad one, when I wake up headache free, I cry tears of gratitude.
- As I have learned about the long and expensive process of printing the first copies of The Book of Mormon, I’ve realized that I often take for granted being able to carry the entire gospel library in my pocket.
- Just this past week our fridge and dishwasher both stopped working, which added two more things to my list of things I take for granted most days. Most of the time I open the fridge and load the dishwasher without properly appreciating that they exist and are working.
The list could go on and on! It seems that opposition, or the lack of something is often what it takes for me to realize what I have. I am also realizing there are people I take for granted. And knowledge too. When President Nelson (then Elder Nelson) asked members of the Church in 2017 what our lives would be like without the Book of Mormon, I took the time to imagine my life without any of the gospel knowledge I have. To say that my life would be different is an understatement.
I want to walk through life in fuller appreciation for all that I have. What does that look like? It looks like recognizing the miracle of technology and modern conveniences. It looks like paying attention to those around me and not letting distraction destroy our relationships. It looks like breathing in fresh air and exhaling a prayer of gratitude for it. It looks like living in “thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow” (Alma 34:38). It looks like remembering that prayer is a wonderful “connection” to help ourselves and others with their struggles. It looks like taking opposition as an opportunity to see the blessings around me. It will look like a life of light and gratitude. I love what D&C 78:19 says about those who choose to live this way: “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious”.