Sometimes we cannot recognize our blessings because we are dwelling on the "pebble in our shoe"
That was the statement I presented to my chapel students last Sunday asking them what they thought it meant. We were discussing gratitude and how we fail to experience the blessing because we’re so focused on the present instead of the larger picture. They didn’t even hesitate to give an answer.
One answered and the others quickly agreed that Native Americans as a people cannot get past the fact that the white man took their lands. The government has since provided them with housing and food, places to live, education—you name it, it has been provided to them but ultimately it just returns to that one excuse of “Yeah but they stole our lands.”
It was really eye opening to me that this is still such a raw, open wound; so many generations later it has been handed down to the next age group that this is a wound that shouldn’t be allowed to heal. There wasn’t even any hesitation trying to think of an answer to this statement. I don’t know if it was really keen insight or if this is truly what all Indians are taught and believe.
By holding onto the past the Indians fail to recognize all that has been provided to them in order to move ahead as a people. By failing to forgive they are locking themselves in a place where hope is limited and opportunities are squandered.
I continually am telling kids that as Native Americans they have so many opportunities that they don’t even realize. One of the students was really stressing that her ACT scores weren’t high enough to get into the college she wanted. She was saying “My mom doesn’t even make $15,000 a year. How can I afford to go to college?” I looked at her and said, “You’re Native, your mom’s at the poverty level and you’re smart! Where do you want to go?” Talk about getting every box checked for acceptance.
Continue to pray that the I, along with the rest of the staff of Flandreau Indian School, can influence kids to know that there are so many more opportunities beyond the reservation that do not include drinking and smoking away the rest of their lives. There are so many bright possibilities and God wants these lives to realize their full potential.