Count your blessings before you complain

Column

When I used to think about Third World countries, places like Haiti or nations in Africa and Asia came to mind.

Mexico is a country I probably never would have listed as Third World. I never would have expected a country sharing a border with the United State to have as much poverty as I saw last weekend.

I spontaneously decided to take a short-term missions trip with a group from church a month ago. What I learned while I was there made it incredibly worthwhile.

The trip’s purpose was to build a small home for a family in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, with Casas Por Cristo. It was like entering an entirely different world when we crossed the border.

Suddenly, the billboards and people used a different language and my skin color made me a part of the minority.

I saw people with disabilities begging for help, children trying to sell anything to make a buck, graffiti sprayed on the sides of many of the buildings and stray animals wandering nearly everywhere I looked.

Broken down structures outnumbered the amount of decent looking homes and businesses, at least in the part of town we were in. It was a pretty sad-looking city.

After we finished building, the gratitude the family showed our group was tear-jerking. The house was only a little bigger than my kitchen, but for these people, it was enough. Despite the language barrier, their happiness was a universal language that all of us could understand and it gave me some perspective on my own busy life.

Too often, I let little things bring down my attitude. I complain about having to go to the gym, being bored, having too much homework and not being able to sleep in every Saturday, among a million other things. What I always seem to forget is how blessed I am and this trip was a good reminder of that.

I am blessed to have the money for a gym membership that keeps me healthy. I’m blessed to have free time that can be boring, to be able to go to a great university and I can sleep as long as I like in my own bed on some Saturdays.

It’s easy to forget that every single day is a gift, especially every day I spend living in the United States – the “Land of Opportunity.” Complaining about the little things never makes anything better. Instead of seeing the glass as half-full or half-empty, just be thankful to have a glass with anything in it. After all, it could be worse. Much worse.