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.