I have heard some conversations going around about how Christians use the term “blessed” inappropriately and should refrain from using this word. Because people are using that term to mean that things are going well, it begins to not only lose meaning…but also imply that when things aren’t going well, that God is with-holding blessings from us. People use blessed to mean happy…and although my dictionary app says that happy is a synonym for blessed…it is not…not really. Blessed means consecrated, sacred, holy, sanctified, and divinely or supremely favored. This is not the same as happy…it means that things will be better in the long-run (because our God is good) but not necessarily easier in the short-term (because most things that are good are usually not easy.) In fact, in the short-term, things often really really suck and other people’s “blessings” can be even harder to swallow when your circumstances are difficult. Instead of refraining from using the term blessed, I think we should acknowledge a larger definition for it.
I know that when hard times come, it is hard to see other people’s blessings as legitimate. For example, I remember having my soul crushed at the end of college: I was rejected from being admitted to Veterinary School at Texas A&M. It was all I had ever wanted to do. I had worked for a vet for 10 years, (started at the age of 13!) majored in Biomedical Science, (what the heck was I going to do with a degree like that if I wasn’t going to vet school?) and spent more hours than anyone I knew studying (this was my very best effort…so my very best was being rejected…ouch!) I knew other people who got in…breezed in actually…and in my mind, they were politically connected…or somehow had an “in.” The hours that they spent studying and learning were somehow illegitimate to me…the fact that they were wired differently than I was, was unfair to me…I was bitter. I had to distance myself from them and somehow explain away their good fortune in order to numb my own pain…I ended up moving away and going to grad school somewhere else in order to apply a little anesthetic to the wound of rejection.
On the flip side, I’ve had some unexplainably amazing things happen to me. Take meeting Stan for example. I can not, to this day, say that I deserve him. He is absolutely the best person I’ve ever known in my entire life (and I’ve seen his “bad” side.) His heart and motivations are truer than I thought possible in a broken, sinful human…and I simply don’t deserve him at all. But, over the years of marriage, I am growing and become truer too…my motivations are becoming purer…my rough edges are being slowly and gently rubbed off to reveal a finer version of me. (There is a verse about sharpening one another: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. -Proverbs 27:17 NIV…maybe this is blasphemous but I see it a little differently…I see it as bumping into each other until we have smoothed each other’s rough edges off…like sharp, hard stones that keep bumping into each other until we are smoothed and beautiful and shiny like quality marble.)
The thing is…both the rejection of vet school and the meeting of the love of my life were and are blessings…I just didn’t recognize one of them as such at the time. If I had not been rejected by the school of my dreams, I would not have met the man of my dreams and I wouldn’t be living the life about which I dared not dream. But, at the time, it really hurt and I thought I was destroyed…my best wasn’t good enough… and that painful revelation was one of the biggest blessings of my life because it changed my path for the better. If I hadn’t been rejected, I probably would have remained in College Station and said yes to the man I was dating at the time who eventually proposed to me…and that would have been tragic…because it wasn’t God’s best for me…but to get me on the right path, I had to be painfully removed from what I thought I wanted. I had to be so injured that I would leave this town I loved and consequently this boy that I thought I loved in order to pursue a life somewhere else. And it was good…the pain and the blow to my ego was a blessing…and I regret not one bit of it.
So, back to the conversations: I think that we tend to misuse the word blessing by saying it when something seemingly favorable happens. We don’t tend to use it to describe soul-crushingly painful situations…because we don’t want to believe that this was “supposed” to happen. In truth, we are all being blessed in amazing ways by a God who loves us deeply…so deeply that it results in his own hurt and pain…this makes me think we should probably talk even more about our blessings. We should recognize them in hind-sight so that we can trust this amazing God more readily in the future. We shouldn’t judge each other’s blessings because everyone has had some of the painful blessings that we don’t tend to ask God for…the ones that steal your breath away and leave you blind-sided and questioning God’s goodness.
So, how are you doing with this? Do you tend to get jealous of the blessings of others? Do you tend to only see good things as “God’s will” or blessings? Are you struggling to see God in your life right now because things are painful? What past experiences have you had that were painful at the time but turned out to be blessings in the long run?
Praying blessings and recognition of blessings for you all.