When I was little, I used to get awed by how lucky I was to be born a Jew. I would always hear people commenting how small a percentage Jews are in the world. It made me think, "Wow, what are the odds of being born Jewish? How did I get so lucky?"
It wasn't always clear to me why I felt this was "lucky." I was used to being Jewish. I was used to believing Judaism was the correct religion and that the Torah was true. I was proud of these things. I felt almost superior, knowing that I was part of this chosen nation. I used to wonder how I would feel if I'd been born to a different religion. Would I also think that I was practicing something correct and true? Was I being a snob to feel lucky that I was Jewish, that I wasn't something else?
As I got older and more mature, more attuned to the sophistications, complications, and subtleties of life and religion, I recognized things that I legitimately did feel grateful and lucky for - things that did not only pertain to Judaism.
The most important thing I came to realize was that I had the privelege of a God to turn to. There are so many people out there who are not religious, not of any religion at all, who deny the existence of God entirely. And I wonder, who do these people turn to when there is no one else? Where do these people find true solace? Perhaps they have trained themselves to not need the consolation that faith, that prayer brings. Maybe that works for them. I'm not judging, I'm only curious.
Regardless, I am infinitely grateful to having been born a religious person, a person acutely aware of the presence of God in this world and the fact that He is always there to turn to when there is no one else. God is constant. There is no such concept as God being too busy to listen, or not wanting to hear what you have to say.
I think belief is one of the most precious gifts a person can have, especially in such a high-pressured, fast-paced world where you really do find yourself alone perhaps more than you should. So many who struggle, who go through difficulties, who feel despondant and perhaps also lonely - so many of them are able to find hope in turning to God.
There was a point in high school where I was going through a bit of a rough time. One night a friend said to me, "Daven Ma'ariv and ask Hashem for peace of mind." The fact that I even had that option - the option to turn to God - is incredible. That, alone, is something to be thankful for. I am thankful to be the kind of person who is completely trusting in God, who is perfectly able to turn to Him in times of need and actually feel comforted afterward.
Lucky is a weird word because it's not luck that gives us the gift of prayer, it is God. But that feeling still remains - that feeling of being so fortunate to having been born the person I am. I am
fortunate to have Hashem to turn to, to confide in, to find solace in. And I am proud to be a Jew.