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What Does a Blessing Look Like?

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We people are faith are big fans of the grand gesture. We gasp at the stories of the timely and significant anonymous check that arrives in the nick. Goosebumps attend the extravagant healing, the impossible adoption, the miracles for which we hope—and dare not speak aloud—that swim in the bottoms of our hearts, like buoys marking out the path.

These are the proofs, these grand gestures. We point to them; “See? God loves me.” And indeed these are blessings. And it is easy to rely on the grand gesture to make the way of faith seem easy, pretty, designer decorated.

I have heard, and agreed with, affluent friends that God has indeed been good to them. Trouble is, as I’m nodding in agreement, the shadow of envy falls across my faithless heart. I see the grand gesture in someone else’s life. Like a distracted toddler, I wander after what they have, longing for those blessings to replicate themselves with some kind of Star Trek magic in my own life. I forget that I am affluent, that I have been blessed, that there is food on our table and a roof over our head, that my children have everything they need and much of what they want.

Last week felt like an exercise in shadow hunting. It was, to be plain, a really crappy week. In the midst of the doldrums, everyone ever in the whole world had the best things ever happen to them. If I was going to survive the week with any kind of grace, I would need to shine a light on those shadows, chasing them back into the corners where they belong.

During a phone chat about, of all things, babysitting, with my friend Bea—everyone should have a Bea—I was reminded that blessings are not always enormous homes and shiny cars, although I’d be willing to give that a try, if it was my cross to bear. Instead, I found a new kind of litany. Instead of illuminating the blessings of others with the spotlight of want, I sang. I sang the insignificant, the small. With a shaky voice that strengthened with use, I sang blessings that had strung themselves together over the days. Sure, most of the week felt like the dark night of the soul, but I had the company of bright pinpricks of light, like luminary, forcing back the ebbing envy.

A swim date with friends, a cold drink, a full night of sleep, waking to no dog poo in the house, a cup of coffee before everyone else wakes, a decent run just for kicks, a “cold-front” that gave us temperatures in the hight 90s instead of the 100s, spontaneous sibling laughter, a perfectly written sentence, a kind word wisely spoken.

These are enough. These are more than enough. They make the home that I have a home ready for hospitality, a car that can get us from here to there, the resources to face the issues we face.

Some would say this is wishful thinking, or being blindly positive as a salve for the wounds. I argue it’s a simple shift that makes an impact, on how I live, on my gratitude, my attitude and the respect I have for the blessings that look like dinner at the table with all my people.

What do you think a blessing looks like? Many thanks to Bea for the conversation.

12 Comment

  1. In reading this post I can’t help but hear the song “Blessings” by Laura Story in my head. Yes, we are all truly blessed. Even when tragedy strikes, to whatever degree that may be, we are blessed with wonderful family, true friends & a God of grace & mercy to see us through. Oftentimes it is the days like this past weekend, where I spend it all at home working on projects, canning food & hanging laundry that I am most content. The irony of this is not lost on me, the engergizer bunny-social butterfly, although I sometimes forget it. It reminds me that it is not the “stuff” that makes us blessed. It is the ability to use the stuff we do have to make our lives better. The ability to use my health & strength to build an enclosure for our dog & chickens to run. The knowledge to use the bounty from our garden to feed us its goodness in the winter. All these things are blessings.
    Many blessings to you, my friend.

    1. @Sara Breeggeman Excellent point. Even tragedy, which I must say hits very rarely (so far). I sometimes think the little blessings, the ones we overlook, are the ones that make a strong foundation.

  2. Being mindful of the blessings in my life has completely changed the way I view everything. I see the God glimmers in small details and big. When bad stuff happens, this mindset has allowed me to whisper, “use even this.” Looking for the blessings is not a panacea or Stepford-izing. It gives me a better perspective and I am happier and more whole as a result.

  3. The tagline for my blog is Bearing witness, battling crazy. I started blogging when I was in a very dark place, using it as a way of training my eyes to see the insignificant and the small.

    Your Bea sounds terrific. I’ve got an Ethel.

    1. Oh, this is gorgeous. I don’t like those dark places, having been to a few myself. The insignificant is quite significant. I like this phrase, “training my eyes.” @Nancy Franson. I’m thankful you have an Ethel.

  4. You have idea how much I needed this post today, my friend. That prickly green thing that is jealousy has arisen twice today . . . I lose perspective, the blessing of a life I get to live and friends who hold me dear. Thank you. Thank you.

  5. ‘What does a blessing look like?’ It often looks like a friend. And sometimes it takes dark times to help us realize how precious that blessing is. Bea sounds like a Big Blessing, for example. 🙂

    1. I probably write too much about Bea, but I just love her so much! And you are right. Sometimes we don’t see the brightness f a blessing until we emerge from the dark. Thanks, @ann van Wijgerden.

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