In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, there’s a scene where the whole family is sitting around the table about to have a big holiday meal. Aunt Bethany is asked to say grace and she is deaf and more than a little senile. “Grace has been dead for years,” she responds. Uncle Lewis responds in a very agitated fashion with “The BLESSING! They want you to say the BLESSING” in an effort to get to to actually HEAR what it is she’s being asked to do. That scene always cracks me up for some reason. Normally it’s the first thing that pops into my head when I hear the word blessing.
Yesterday morning, I was surprised with a text from a friend asking about getting together for some lunch. He even offered to bring it to the store in case I wasn’t able to get out for a bit. It certainly made me feel pretty good to know that I have a friend who just wanted to hang out for a bit at random. Being such an introvert, I’m pretty limited on my friendships and most tend to be a bit more on the side of not really going too far out of the way to hang out outside of some sort of event.
This has been kind of a rough year and it just seems like things have piled up. I’ve tried to be more positive (more successfully than I would have imagined) and focus on the good things instead of just the problems. I’m just getting over a bit of a rough patch, so the thought of having lunch with a friend and getting some of the blahs of work and life out of the way for a bit sounded great! Recently, my friend has also had a bit of a rough patch with some things and I’m sure a little BBQ and chit chat were needed by both of us.
God offers us blessings all of the time. Most of the time, however, we don’t even notice. We are asking God to help us win the lottery or to get us into a job we would enjoy. To heal a worsening health condition or take away the pain of a loss. We expect God to just wave a magic wand and make our wishes come true. I’ve said it before in the blog, but He is not a genie in a bottle! Sure, some of the things that we pray for will come true. Some of the healing that we ask for will come. But that isn’t the only way that He chooses to bless us. Much of the time, the pain and difficulty is to help us to grow to depend on Him more, not to punish us. It’s for us to take away some sort of important lesson about who He is and who we are called to be.
But think of all of the blessings that are in our lives each and every day! You woke up this morning! Congratulations, there were many who didn’t. The sun came up and perhaps you were lucky enough, if you’re a morning person that is, to get to watch it. Or how about that beautiful sunset that will happen tonight and each and every night? The beautiful bird songs, the leaves changing colors for the fall. You have a roof over your head and food in your belly.
Perhaps some of the most important blessings aren’t actually the things, but the people and the memories that we create and share.
When was the last time that you thought about that random $20 bill that you found? Probably not as recently as the last laugh that you had with a spouse or friend, right? I bet you’ve thought about a story involving your kids (or fur children for pet owners) way more than you’ve thought about the last time you received a thing that you wanted. I can look back and see many of the special memories in my life and 99% of them involve people. Not things, not money. The people who have been in my life at the various stages of it. The laughs we’ve shared. The tears that we’ve shed. The good times and the difficult times. The arguments, some of them funny years later, and the ending of relationships signaling on a new era in life.
Don’t get me wrong, I can remember when I got my first kayak to be able to go kayak fishing. I can remember buying a guitar that I really wanted. I can remember some of the “things” throughout my life. And some of those are still fond memories, but the ones that seem to really pop into my head randomly are the ones with family and friends. I can remember having to try and scarf down some black olives at family gatherings on my mom’s side before my cousin Anthony ate them all. I can remember sitting in my uncle’s house as a very young kid playing videos games with him. Many times, I recall sitting in my grandparent’s various homes throughout the years with my dad’s family at Christmas time and all of the chaos that would ensue. It’s been 14 years since sitting at my grandmother’s dining room table, but I can still remember the spread of roast beef, ham, egg gravy, white rice and all of the other fixings that were always there, while we would sit around the table and listen to the older folks in the family share stories.
Those memories are blessings. They take you to some good places in your life, with the people that you loved.
Sometimes, we have to look hard to see the blessings that we have been given, but they are there. Deep down, I think that it’s a mindset thing. We see so many things that we just take for granted and don’t see them for what they truly are. I still love getting to see a sunset and when they happen while I’m not driving home from work, I can see them as special moments of blessing. Many days I’m leaving for work around the time the sun is coming up and get annoyed with the way it blinds me while I’m trying to drive, but God loves us so much that He made it so the sun would come up each day, to bless us with the light that we would need for work and the light that plants would need in order to grow to feed us and the animals that we eat.
During those dark and difficult times, we often only see the problems ahead of us and not the love and blessings all around us. Many times, we choose not to lean on the people that God has blessed us with in our life, but that’s exactly why He placed them there! Far too often, we see the things that we think would make us happier, make life easier and forget about the things that we already have. And here in America, we are blessed so much more than we realize.
God has also blessed us with “things” that make us happy as well. I’m blessed to have a vehicle, a few guitars and a whole host of fishing gear. I’m blessed to have some dogs that love me and a cat that, well she’s a cat and her idea of love isn’t the same as a dog’s. I’m blessed to have a job and to be a part of things through church. I’m blessed to be able to eat every day and complain about how fat I am. I’ve been blessed with things throughout the years that have brought some level of happiness into my life. I’m blessed to have a love of cooking, music and fishing. Even if I can’t always do them, the times that I get to are a blessing to me.
I’m going to throw down a challenge here. Make a list of the blessings in your life. I’m going to say you need at least 5, and I’ve given you a few above if you have trouble. Keep that list handy because I’d like you to use that list to thank God for each of those blessings and praise Him for loving you so much to give you those blessings free of charge. And when things get dark and difficult, pull out that list to help you remember how blessed you truly are and thank Him again for the blessings that He has given you.
It just may be a blessing in disguise….