Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Am Blessed

I'd like to thank my two years of graduate education for a complete inability to start a post without the context of an ongoing public conversation - in other words, without relating my post to some idea that a lot of people are talking about and which lends weight and interest to my writing. To my academic mind, without such context I fear my writing would be pointless. Not true, I know - but I love me some context.

This post has a double context: personal and public.

On the personal side, today has been a grey day, literally and figuratively. After two days of glorious sunshine and fifty-degree weather, the skies clouded over. I paid a $90+ gas bill today. I realized I actually have to pay to file my taxes (this is on top of the $50 I shelled out for tax software).

On the public side, have you seen this article that Christians should stop designating the material, physical comforts they enjoy as divine blessings? It's a good article. By and large I agree: Christianity is not meant to bring us closer to physical stuff; it's meant to bring us closer to Jesus Christ.

And yet.

And yet, wouldn't it be Pharisaical to neglect thankfulness for the material blessings? Would we not be straining out the gnat of a precise, theologically-accurate definition of divine blessings to swallow the camel of ingratitude?

Indeed, on days like today, remembering God's material blessings is a good exercise. Sure, my wallet is a little thin right now, and my spirit is a little low, but God, good shepherd that He is, knows what His sheep need. (This doesn't mean, of course, that I think those who are in dire straits physically are forgotten by God. Why they suffer we cannot know in this life, but we do know they are no less loved by God.)

Theological precision can only go so far. Sometimes, obedience and love are most important of all.

To that end, I want to make a list of things (both material and spiritual) that I am thankful for. God is taking care of me, regardless of how down I feel, and it's time to remember.

A note: I've adjusted the comment settings, so hopefully some of you will find it easier to comment. I think that thankfulness is a good exercise, so I'd love to have you comment, and to pass the blog along to your friends as you desire.

A second note: As I write this, it occurs to me that perhaps someone could read this as me, gloating about how lucky I am compared to others. This is not my intention. If life is mega-hard for you right now, you have my sympathy. I want to tell what good things God has done for me, but I also want to weep with those who weep.

A third note: I have a few readers who aren't religious. You're welcome to comment as well. While I am grateful to God for what I believe he has given me, surely it is a good exercise for any of us to count up the pennies that we find in our muddy lives, to remember that "even the darkest night shall end / and the sun shall rise."

My List: I am thankful that
  • I have a job. I like my job. My job requires me to think and to be creative.
  • I've been able to use my work computer while I save for a new one (My personal computer died three months ago.)
  • I enjoyed a five-mile run in fifty-degree weather yesterday. The base layer that my parents gave me for Christmas kept me warm in thirty-degree weather this morning.
  • When I accidentally drained my car battery earlier this semester (long story), I was able to recharge it with a 90-minute drive through rural Iowa, instead of paying $100 for a new one.
  • So far the driver's door on my car is still shutting (again, long story).
  • I made a new friend over the last week, a visiting speaker at the school where I work, and had money enough to go out for a meal with her several times.
  • I have loving parents who will let me call them repeatedly with questions about my taxes.
  • I have a kind friend who is willing to take time out of her busy schedule to read and comment on professional projects for me. Another friend regales me with Tennyson's religious underpinnings.
  • I got a coupon in the mail for a free travel-sized shower gel from Bath & Body Works.
  • I am reading two good books right now, Fabricating Jesus and Middlemarch. Thank God for reading.
  • The warmer weather in March means my next gas bill will probably not be $90.
  • Also, the warmer weather means that I am generally happier.
  • The school librarian keeps peanut M&Ms in his office.
  • I've started a beautiful new knitting project, a blanket.
What are you thankful for?


  1. For the small beauties. Like the way steam unfurls itself from my coffee mug in the morning sunlight.

    For rest. I am convinced that we are all of us seeking rest for our souls, and at this moment. I have it.

    And for good friends. :)

  2. For daily and even moment-by-moment reminders to thank the Lord for his goodness. For the wonder of written words that can express so many valuable truths.