i feel awkward about the word "blessed". as in, "God blessed me with.....". it seems with whatever word i fill the blank i'm judging. "God blessed me with my home", am i saying that if you're homeless God is withholding his blessing? "God blessed me with my husband", but what about my amazing single friends? "God blessed me with my children", but what of barrenness?
so, i try not to use the word willy-nilly. in fact, i probably use it very little.
and then on Sunday these words are spoken over me
blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
blessed are the merciful, the persecuted, the peacemakers, the meek....
beautiful, beautiful words. like waves washing over me.
i sit in my chair and close my eyes. i see myself holding on to the kitchen counter, holding back the screams of sadness and fear and loss because we have just decided to resign from our church, and our home, and our loved ones. i see myself in the hospital, saying to the triage nurse "there's just so much blood", and lying alone that night, crying myself to sleep, mourning the loss of our third child, our second miscarriage. i see myself a week later, holding on to the cross at the front of our church, holding on like it is saving me from a flood of depression and agony. and standing in the kitchen, wondering months later why i feel nothing anymore. i hear my voice saying "we have six dollars until the end of the month".
and as i look back on the hardest moments of my life, i see blessing. When we were resigning i was blessed with such a sense of purpose, a wild faith, a joyous confidence like i had never known. losing my baby, holding that cross, walking through depression - this was a season of life where i clung to Christ, where i did intimately hear His voice and know His care, and was deeply blessed with His comfort. and the years scott and i spent living below the poverty line were filled with miraculous provision ("i found five dollars on campus and someone told me to give it to you!").
i think of the crowds sitting on a hillside, people who knew poverty and grief and humiliation and who never saw themselves as blessed, and were surely never told they were. their chins lift, their eyes light, their lips begin to hide a smile.
maybe some say "if this is blessing, no thanks!"
but others close their eyes and look back on the worst moments of their lives and remember experiencing God through them. letting go in worship because they really felt there was no dignity left to lose. sharing the scraps of bread left in the cupboard with neighbours who shared their scraps. community and kindness and beauty in the dark moments of humanity. dark, but not ugly.
this is not an easy blessing. it is a deep, earnest, transforming work.
it is the blessing of change.