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?

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13 thoughts on “Breathing Deeply in Simple Gratitude (Not Guilt)

  1. Oh, WOW how I needed to hear this! I hadn’t even got this far in my thoughts recently, but this is really where I’m at. My life seems an endless flood of trials. And then when God blesses me, I nearly avoid it to keep from feeling guilty! Depression sets in. Oh– I’m gonna have to blog about this…..a lot more going on here.

    We’re a US Navy family (married 4.5 yrs, 3 yr old son, 2 cats). We’ve moved 4x in 4 years. Ugh. Last house was TINY and dingy. We just moved again to a new state, and we’re living in a MANSION here! I began feeling so blessed and thankful for the beautiful house and gardens and our furnishings……. And then I turned to feeling guilty. I have to “explain” to everyone I meet the fact of “last-house-small-this-house-too-big” apologizing…..

    Some of this is taking me to a good place that God is always taking me: to GIVE abundantly to the poor and to missions. These are my passions in life– of which I was blessed to be involved for many years, but not since Navy life (much) and since my son was born and I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (beyond the migraines and daily headaches and childhood abuse I’ve long dealt with). God has given me a unique understanding of suffering. I can embrace the lost and hurting like no one else.

    That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy HIS BLESSINGS!!

    More to think about!!

    • Sometimes I swear you are able to get in my brain and know what I am thinking…lol. Enjoy this time, enjoy the blessings, I will admit I am very jealous of your views 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been praying and asking God, “What is blocking joy in my life? Why can’t I receive it?” And this is it…I have so much trouble being happy when others are hurting. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes and gratitude in my heart for your words (and His).

  3. You have a wonderful gift for expressing eternal truths in a meaningful way. Yes – trust. It is another of those life-long lessons the Father has been writing on my heart.

  4. Strange this … part of me used to walk around figuring it was about time… and then I found myself rationalizing or downplaying or explaining away everything. It is a humility thing… a confusion over pride and how much we are supposed to attain or purchase or want… and it is guilt in sense as well. My husband and I just went on a little vacation and part of me feels we could have gave to charity and part of me says that the choices we make are okay. It is so hard. We live well, and in guilt I run around volunteering or doing or serving and for some reason I end up feeling worse. Like I was doing it to make myself feel better. That isn’t right either. Trust. Trust in living slow and learning and listening. Being happy isn’t greed or sin.

  5. It is hard to enjoy God’s blessings when you see so many in need. But that is apart of God’s sharing with us so that we can share. How does that go “he has no handds but our hands”? But what a good thing and what a bad thing is guilt. Again I see the hands of that pesky Satan using this for the fulfilling of his wants. God wants us to enjoy every good thing there is in the world. He also wants us to share the burdens of others. It is my job to figure out the balance for me in this. Some days I give it all away and some days I keep it all. Most days I give and keep. But for me it is the remembrance that His gifts are awesome and like the widow’s oil and flour His gifts never run out. Thank you (and Holley) for writing about this so very well.

  6. Followed you here from Holley Gerth’s blog. Thank you for such great reminders. I too struggled greatly with the blessing of pregnancy with our second living child. By then we had been through 3 known miscarriages, 7 adoption losses, and 10 years of infertility that did bring us her big brother as well. But I was overcome with guilt that I should again be blessed, became angry with God that he had chosen pregnancy when doctors said I couldn’t carry another baby to live birth (“Why set us up for more grief, Lord?”) and was also angry because this pregnancy, even if it didn’t lead to a living baby in our arms, would close the doors to our active pursuit of adoption once again.
    By God’s amazing grace that little miracle is 6 1/2 years now! I have learned much about trusting God with blessings (mine and others) over the years and living in the active pursuit of His joy. I’ll be blogging for (in)Courage the end of this week and will included a resource area for “joy” links. After reading these great reminders, I would like to add your post to that link list as well. 🙂

  7. Jenni–I’m honored that you would share some of your story with me, and please do add me as a link! Thank you for reading. I’m so surprised that God used these random ramblings in the way that he has. He is so good.

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