Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Blessings, take two

This has taken me a long time to process and write, but I'm finally finding it easier to talk about the dreaded blessings topic again.

I sat down with a seminary professor last fall to talk about blessings. You see, ever since Owen died, I've had it in for the word blessings. I've downright hated it and even felt a lot of hostility to those who used it frequently. "God blessed me with this or that." "I pray God gives you the blessing of children." Grrr.....  I probably didn't make many friends during this period in my life. I was angry, pretty much all of the time.

I had always thought blessings were the good things that happen to us. It seemed to me that using the word blessings was like saying, "This awesome thing happened to me and if I want to sound Christian-y then I need to give God the credit for it." Blessings were the things that we prayed/asked for and then received.

It turns out I was wrong.

Blessings are in everything that God gives us in order to bring us closer to himself, our Father. Those things that show us our great need of him, and pull us into a deeper and more vibrant relationship with him.
Blessings can be things which we prayed would never happen. (Don't get me wrong, death is still and will always be evil, wrong and something that God hates. It wasn't supposed to happen.) 

Even before this great talk with the professor I've always thought of my three babies in Heaven as blessings. When people would tell me that they were praying for God to bless me with children, I would seriously freak out inside (and maybe on the the outside too). My babies' lives are blessings and how God has worked in my heart since their deaths- that's a blessing too.

One afternoon recently as I was washing up the lunch dishes a thought popped into my head....
Other peoples' stories don't invalidate our own. 

Praise God for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This thought has developed into a paradigm shifting view on blessings and our life stories.
Maybe I'm the only one (but probably not) who has ever felt like God was holding out on me when all my friends were having babies so easily. Or when many of my friends had two living children in the span that I lost three of my babies. Or when it was time for Bible study to end and all the kids came running out the nursery to their mommies and I went home alone.

And then there's our struggles. What is going on when God seems to be so faithful to others in their struggles, but I am still struggling with the same damn thing I've been struggling with for five years?? I don't believe that God's faithfulness to others means that God has abandoned us when he doesn't work in our lives the same way. Or that he's not faithful to us in our continued struggles. He is working in our lives too. Maybe it doesn't look the same or seem as obvious, but if we're his children then he's with us and he's promised not to abandon us or forsake us.

Other peoples' stories don't invalidate our own. Praise the Lord. And when we're his children, he blesses us with his divine (holy and sacred) presence daily. By his Spirit, we can look not to the perceived discrepancies in our lives compared to our brothers and sisters, but to the faithfulness and beauty of God's work in our lives. He loves us. 


Anonymous said...

I've been unofficially following your blog for about a year now. I knew who you were by sight years ago (probably about 8 or 9) at Redeemer, although I don't think we ever spoke, but then stumbled across your blog while I was blog surfing one evening. I have just so appreciated (or shall I say 'been so blessed by' ... hah) your blog posts. While children is not the struggle that God has given my husband and I (although we don't have any yet, so maybe that's still coming), I really appreciate your openness with your struggles because they are something to which I really do relate. And I particularly like this post, as I too have chafed at the "Christian" tendency to call all good stuff blessings ... leaving me to oftentimes either feel like I'm not a 'good enough' Christian or to just judge others for their 'shallowness'. In any case, thanks for sharing this. Recently, I've started to see a little bit in my own life that, while some of the path that God has led me/us down has been pretty excruciating, I've started to see how He's been using it to change me ... and that I'm weirdly starting to be okay with that trade-off (although I really wish I were a faster learner!). In any case, this post has given me some good things to think about. Thanks.

Ebe said...

Thank you, Anon. I'm always so thankful when God uses this weak and ugly vessel to bring him glory. And me too... I wish I learned things more easily and didn't have to keep re-learning them!

By the way, I'm so curious about you! Would you share your name with me? : )


Sara said...

Ebe, so well said friend and something I have struggled with as well... Had to laugh out loud (although it really wasn't funny) but I could so relate to exactly what you were saying... Miss you friend! Praying for you!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for speaking words of truth, Ebe. It's exactly what my soul needed - and my oh-so-stubborn brain. I've been thinking a lot lately about the fact that it's okay to be broken (actually heard this from the not-so-family-friendly show Private Practice, where Addison says "I'm broken. And I'm okay with it."). I am exactly what God wanted when he created me, and it's okay not to have a life that lines up with everyone else, as hard as that may be.

Thank you for being awesomely you.

Anonymous said...

It is nice to know I'm not alone in this struggle. I do community bible study and we meet in core groups which consist of all ages of women from all different denominations.I've been blessed with a good one but I can't help but bristle when they talk about faith and blessings. We are studying Hebrews and are on chapter 11 and it has been very timely. I struggle with the verse "Delight yourselves in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart"...I have to fight my thoughts of "but you haven't lost a baby". Hebrews 12:2 has ministered to me teaching me that God alone is the perfector of my faith and it has nothing to do with how much faith I have but who my faith is in. Thank you for sharing your heart!!
Kate Howell (Kelli Magee's friend)

Open Air said...

Beautiful. I have struggled with those same thoughts. This is a paradigm-shifting concept. Thanks for sharing it!

Ebe said...

Love you, Sara. So much.
And Stephanie- seriously you are beautiful. You can't know how beautiful I think you are. I am so thankful for you.
Beverly, I am so thankful for how God reveals himself to us.

Kate, oh Kate. My heart has been so very heavy for you. I have been praying for you ever since Kelli told me about your precious one. Please please email me or call me if you ever want to yell or cry or just 'be' with someone who understands. I am here for you, really.
My friend back home used to tell us all the time that it's not the quantity of faith you have- big or little- but the quality of who or what you put your faith in. We have an amazing God who carries us in our constant weakness.
Praying for you right now.