Breathing Deeply in Simple Gratitude (Not Guilt)

So I’m running today and loving the scenery. How incredible is it that I get to run with a view of two mountain ranges and a glorious expanse of water? I stopped for a moment to take it all in and reflected again on how incredibly blessed I am to live in this place. And then I was besieged with that old familiar feeling: Guilt. I have this terrible habit of feeling guilty for my blessings. So often all I can think is, “Why am *I* so blessed?” Why do I get mountains instead of cornfields or industrial parks or whatever (though I of all people know cornfields do have their own sort of beauty). With my second pregnancy I couldn’t feel joy for the longest time because all I could think was, “Why do I get blessed with another baby? Why when so many of my friends and loved ones struggle so much to get pregnant and suffer through miscarriages, or who simply long for the love of a husband and a family, do I have this second blessing coming into my life?” It literally robbed me of joy. I was cloaked in depression for weeks at the beginning because I felt such guilt for the blessings I was given. Guilt not gratitude–Isn’t that outrageous?!

I was thinking of that today and suddenly I heard God whisper, “You can trust me with other people’s blessings, you know.” And then I was flooded. I got it. Oh yeah… If God is taking such care to bless me with these exquisite things crafted with care to make my heart smile, of course He’s doing that for others! He knows my heartaches, he knows my cares, and he knows what woos my heart. He knows when I need the simplicity of resting into beauty. He knows the desires of my heart, little and big. He allows pain and suffering into my life, yes, but He also cushions me with an abundance of his love and a portion of blessings that leave me astounded and and grateful, and… guilty???

In a perfect world it would all equal out. We would all, well… Still be in the Garden of Eden experiencing pure intimacy with God and with one another. Our bellies would ALL be full, our hearts would be unashamedly vulnerable. Sickness and death and grief wouldn’t be in the picture. All truly WOULD BE (instead of shall be) well.

This is, at root, a trust issue. Do I trust in God’s goodness in my life and in the lives of others in the midst of plenty and in the midst of want? In the midst of the obviously beautiful and joyful and good and in the midst of what looks stark and barren and ugly? I knowthat I am graced with such abundant blessings, but I can trust that God is supplying blessings to others. He’s God. He’s not stingy. I don’t have the corner on his extravagant benevolence and generosity, and to feel guilty for my blessings only suggests that I think He’s holding out on others. That He could, at a moment’s notice, hold out on me. But that’s not Abba. That’s not God. This tells me that really I think He can’t be trusted. It also suggests, a really embarrassing level of narcissism, I suppose.

He IS blessing others. Even those that I see who are in such excruciating pain, who might not be in the same sort of season of blessing that I am in. He is there. He is their comfort and shelter and he delights in and woos their hearts just as much as mine. He is God. He is everywhere. His love endures forever. And I can rest in that instead of fretting and stewing over guilt. He was there for me in the times when the walls closed in and the bottom fell out of my life. When it seemed the crap of life would never stop piling up, His goodness was still in the midst of it. The blessings looked different then, but they were no less real or sustaining. That’s God. That’s His goodness. That’s who He is.

It’s not about ‘fairness’ or ‘equality’ in the long run, though He is equally present with each one of us. It’s just about trusting the unceasingly good heart of the Most High. He continually shows such goodness to me. Now I realize He’s got everyone else’s blessings covered. I don’t need to worry about their portion with the giver of all good things at the helm. So I think, I’ll just feel free to rest and relax into the good things in my life. Gratitude just makes more sense than guilt. Don’t you think?

Thankful to be a failure

I feel like God is calling me to be thankful for something I never would have expected to be thankful for:  My failures.

Last night I’d had it with Carolyn.  She’d had a fabolous day really.  I’d had comments from several people about how well-behaved my kids were, but then came bedtime.  Her sister, who had stayed up and played late WITH her big sister the night before conked out immediately.  Carolyn stayed awake.  And played.  I caught her in her playroom, happy as a lark.  And I. Was. Mad.  It wasn’t that it had been building all day.  Before bed I’d spent some time building her up for how well she’d done the rest of the day.  It’s just that bedtimes are notoriously hard for us.  We’ve had several bad ones lately and I just was in no mood to tolerate it.

And I didn’t handle it well.  I reacted in anger.  I did all the things the parenting gurus and experts and expert Mamas that I see doing it right on the days I am getting it so freaking wrong tell you not to do.  

I felt so low…  To be honest, right now, I can give you a list a mile long of things that I feel like I screw up as a parent and as a person, and the list of things that I feel like I do right is non-existent.  Do I recognize the distortion here?  Yes.

But yesterday as I was trembling with frustration and feeling the desperation of having chosen wrong in the game of parenting, again, what I heard was this:

I’m supposed to feel like a failure. 

I’m in a season of striving for discipline.  I’m trying to commit and recommit (usually on an hourly basis) to eating in ways that are good for my body.  I’m running.  It’s been my hope all summer to get my house under control (that SO hasn’t happened).  I’m trying to be deliberate about setting time aside to be with God.  I have been trying so hard to do the RIGHT things in all the RIGHT ways in all the RIGHT places.  And I go to bed each night seeing two dozen ways in which I failed, and so very few ways in which I succeeded. 

And I caught a glimpse for a second of me trying to build a Tower of Babel.  Trying to do it all right so that I am acceptable to other people and especially to God.  I’m trying to build my way to heaven, trying to earn favor.

It doesn’t work that way. 

So I feel like God is telling me to be thankful for my failures.  Because they remind me that I *can’t* get it right on my own, and that I don’t need to.  I am His by virtue of what HE DID, not by virtue of what *I* can do.  Admittedly, I struggle with what it looks like to ’surrender’ to the work of the Holy Spirit in all of these venues that do legitimitely require an outward effort on my part.  I don’t think I know how not to strive.   How does one surrender and still act?  I don’t know.

At least I do know that I can be grateful for not getting it right all the time.  I can trust that God is enough when I am not.  I can believe that even though it sucks to feel like a failure, that God is teaching me good things in the midst of it.  And maybe eventually I’ll even learn to get myself out of the way enough to stop striving and simply surrender.

Hello Blog

Me:  Hello Blog

Blog:  Hey!  Where’ve you been?

Me:  I dunno, I just haven’t had much to write I guess…

Blog:  You’ve been cheating on me with Facebook haven’t you??

Me:  Well, we have been spending more time together than we should, but that’s not why I haven’t blogged.

Blog:  Then why haven’t you?  You’re telling me that nothing is going on?  The kids haven’t done anything crazy?  The Navy hasn’t done anything interesting?  You haven’t had any angsty thoughts or new developments in your life?

Me:  The kids have done plenty of crazy things…  But I’m trying to collect those in a journal now and usually when they’re doing a lot of crazy things I’m too tired to come here and write about them…  The Navy, well.. .  It’s the Navy!  It’s always a little unpredictable.  Of course I’ve been angsty.  But Shore Duty has been, thusfar at least, relatively uneventful.  And, yes,  I’m still the thinkative girl who gets into a twit about lots of things and thinks herself in circles.  I’m still plenty angsty.  There really have been plenty of developments…  Just none that I’ve really wanted to put a publish button to.  And I’ve been staying busy doing other things.

Blog:  You’re leaving me, aren’t you?  Haven’t we had good times together?  Haven’t I always been there for you when you needed a shoulder to cry on or a place to vent steam?

Me:  You have always been there for me blog.  I’m not leaving you.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say somewhere down the line.  Right now my words are just quiet.

Blog:  Your words are quiet?  What in the heck does that mean, anyway?

Me:  Ok.  If you’re going to be mean about it, I’m done. 

Blog:  Fine!

Me:  Fine!