I was attending Sunday worship service and Pastor Steve announced the kick off of the church’s Drive Campaign. Drive was a series of messages focused on fixing something that is broken.
It also began the start of a fund raising campaign toward fixing the broken church parking lot – removing the old asphalt and laying down new. Drive? An unusual name for a campaign to replace a parking lot but certainly better than calling it “Park” or “Parking.”
What’s wrong with the parking lot anyway? I thought. It seemed functional to me. As Pastor Steve was discussing the campaign he dropped a scoop into a large bucket lifting out various sized chunks of crumbling asphalt from the deteriorating lot. He then showed a video of one of the elders walking around the parking lot pointing out the pot holes, cracks and the general state of breakdown from years of neglect.
During his message Pastor Steve mentioned the parking lot was a visitor’s first impression of our church and with the current state of damage several safety issues have arisen. After hearing that I was all-in on the importance of installing a new parking lot. At the same time, I realized I had taken the parking lot for granted because it served my purposes – a place to park for about 90 minutes on Sunday’s.
What does it really mean to take something for granted? The literal meaning is to take something as though it were “granted” or “given to you.” Many of us would say to take something for granted is to undervalue its worth, to be ungrateful and/or to naively believe someone or something will always be there.
Bizarre, right? If you take things for granted you must also be unaware you’re doing it. It’s in our DNA to take things for granted, but I can only speak for those things I take for granted. As you review my list you might find we share some things in common.
Some Of The Things I Take For Granted
- My relationship with God
- My relationship with the significant people in my life especially my wife
- My health
- My very life; that I’ll be above ground tomorrow, next week, next month, next year and the year after
- My job; that I’ll always have one and it will be easy getting one when I don’t have one
- My political freedoms
- The World of Mother Nature
How We Can Stop Taking Things For Granted
Put It In The Spotlight
- I was oblivious to the crumbling, deterioration of the parking lot. It was an extra cast member of my conscious theater. We take things for granted when they blend into the background. They don’t “standout” anymore. Things like our health, the people around us, the Internet, running water, electricity, our homes, etc. They’re so consistent in our lives, they become part of the wallpaper of life. We need to bring them out of the background by shining a spotlight on them. Pastor Steve’s message put a bright spotlight on the broken parking lot.
Start A Gratitude Journal
- Build a list of things you’re grateful/thankful for. Be sure the list includes those things you take for granted. Since 1998, Doctor Robert Emmons, a University of California professor at Davis has been studying gratitude. He is the author of the book, “Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.” According to Doctor Emmons, regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25 percent. Keeping a gratitude journal for just three weeks results in better sleep and more energy. Who couldn’t use better sleep and more energy?
Regularly engage with an item from your Gratitude journal. For example, let’s say you’ve been taking your health for granted. Take action to maintain and optimize your health – get a physical, eat healthy, incorporate regular exercise in your life. For motivation, imagine how your life would be without your health.