I have several blog posts I have been trying to find time to write. However, I read a blog from my daughter this morning and decided that she saved me the trouble of writing one of them. Part of it really hit home and I decided to share it verbatim. I didn't write it, but I might as well have. It hits the nail on the head in so many ways. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I have been trying to work recently on counting my blessings, but something about that phrase really rubs me the wrong way. (Am I allowed to say that during November? Will lightning strike me dead?) I'm not saying that I'm not thankful or don't think I need to be thankful. It's just that that particular phrase "Count your blessings" seems to come with a whole subtext for me. Something along the lines of: "Count your blessings. It could always be worse-- and probably will be soon if you don't start showing some gratitude. Don't you realize how easy you have it? Poor you, to have to struggle with central heating, plentiful food, automatic washing machines and four beautiful children that you chose to bring into this world. Tough cookies."
I guess my trouble is not so much with counting my blessings. I am grateful. It's that I feel like in order to truly "count my blessings" I can't-- or don't have the right to-- to acknowledge that I struggle and things are hard, even though I am very blessed. I feel like "counting my blessings" is equated with me saying, "My life is easy and everything is smooth sailing. Any difficulties I have are so minor compared with my blessings that they hardly even count." Which may be true, but isn't what I need to hear-- or have it in me to say-- after an exhausting day caring for four children.
Last week I was thinking a lot about God and how he shows his love for us. I get irritated by children's books and such that say things like, "I know God loves me because I have a nice home and good parents." Does that mean that God loves the children less who are born into poverty or have abusive parents? I don't think God is like that. I have a good friend who is going through a lot of major difficulties in her life right now, yet more than probably anyone else I know right now, she knows that God loves her. It got me to thinking that frequently we equate God's love for us with the level of ease or comfort in our lives when actually those things are completely decoupled. Did God love Job? Then why did he let terrible things happen to him? Did he approve of King Herod more than Jesus (as evidenced by Herod's wealth, power and ease?). No. Negative things are part of being human and mortal. Pain is a way for us to learn and grow (and not one that I particularly like, I might say). But pain is not evidence of my--or God's-- failure.
It is much easier for me to accept difficult things when I don't start thinking, "What did I do wrong to deserve this?" and instead think, "This is temporary. With God's help, I will learn from this and become stronger."
So back to being thankful.... If I can decouple God's love for me with things being easy, then maybe it is okay for me to decouple being thankful from having to feel like things are easy. Maybe it is okay to say, "Today was a really hard day-- and I'm thankful my kids are asleep. I'm thankful for the opportunities I had to grow-- but I'm even more thankful that they have temporarily subsided." :) And maybe it is okay to say, "I am abundantly blessed and tremendously thankful-- and my life is difficult and hard (at least for me) and challenges me to my very core." Being thankful doesn't mean having to ignore the painful and the ugly and pretend they aren't there-- they still are, no matter how grateful you are. For me being thankful is not letting the painful and ugly crowd out the beautiful and sweet. Letting the pain overshadow and drive out the joy is just as untrue as pretending that the pain isn't there in the first place. So maybe I need to add to my goals-- along with peacefuly coexisting with pee-pee-- to learn to peacefully, thankfully coexist with discomfort, but to see it and acknowledge it just the same.
Enough pontificating. Off to bed.
End of plagiarized post.... Happy November, everyone.