When I think about the blessings in my life, the list grows quickly:
•My prince of a husband, who continues to lavish me with love even when I’m far from lovable
•My precious son – truly the apple of my eye, who causes my heart to leap every time I think of him
•My wonderful daughter-in-love – I always dreamed of having a daughter, and the Lord has answered my prayer in ways too powerful for words
•My “family” – a wonderful mixed bag of real relatives and adopted ones who sustain me, bless me, and remind me of the importance of community
•My Millie and the ever-enthusiastic Reese Rock
The list would be cluttered with amazing experiences that gently linger like the warm fragrance of my sweetheart’s cologne after he’s hugged me or the scent of rosemary on my hands when I clip sprigs for a recipe. There would be the vibrant hues of the turquoise and teal ocean lapping on the shore of the beach at Petit St Vincent, or the sound snow makes when the skis gently glide on it at the Nordic Center at Breckenridge. The list would certainly contain the kiss of the sun when the boat is anchored in a cove at Lake Travis, the joyous pile of messy dishes stacked every Sunday evening at the end of a great dinner with my adopted family, and the experience of watching a movie under a blanket of stars at night in the backyard, with the fire glowing nearby. Laughter would be on that list. Lots of laughter. Oh, how I love laughter.
There would be words on the list – beautiful words.
“I am smitten with you.”
“You have a healthy baby boy!”
“Ian and Gina Rock.”
“You are a rare bird.”
“Your son did an amazing job preaching last night.”
On the list, too, would be blessings of another kind. Blessings that, to the untrained eye, may look more like tragedy, more like curses. But with the passage of time and, through the tender lens of eternity, I find myself so thankful for each messy, dark, haunting moment.
I might find myself a bit reticent to continue the list – perhaps because I wonder what others might think of me should they stumble upon it. But I’m not one of great consequence beyond that which the Lord allows, so the list could very well end up being a personal “treasure” if He opts not to have anyone find it. And should it be discovered at all, perhaps it would inspire someone to embrace each moment, each experience, as a piece of a Divine gift of redemption, mercy, grace, forgiveness, sanctification, and joy.
The dark blessings, like the bright ones, are expressed in experiences. But unlike the bright ones, these blessings are shrouded in what best can be described as a dreamy haze. The color has been drained, a soundtrack of sorts added – a blend of music and scripture and healing words.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” (Gen. 50:20)
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:38)
On the list would be sexual abuse at the hands of a relative when I was a young girl and physical abuse at the hands of a spouse when I was a young adult. There would be the hunger for love from an alcoholic father, and the unseemly road of relationships that same hunger led me to as a teenager. There would be the goodness of a mom’s biscuits and gravy, in a desperate attempt for comfort after a most difficult and heart-wrenching choice was made in college. And reaching for that same goodness when a mom’s gentle touch would no longer be felt.
Yes, death would be on the list – the saying “goodbye” to dreams and hopes and family and friends. Unanswered questions would be on the list. Loneliness and struggle and doubt and fear would be there. Mistakes and blunders.
There would be more words on the list – small snippets of conversations, captured like a photograph.
“I’m only staying in this marriage because of you.”
“You’ll never amount to anything.”
“Unfortunately, the baby just couldn’t survive…”
“Sweetie, she’s gone.”
”They want to do a biopsy, but I know the cancer’s back.”
Laughter would once again make its way to list. Laughter and dancing in the midst of the pain. Because again, this list is about blessings. And again, the blessings are seen through the lens of eternity.
I pray to not neglect the blessings – both bright and dark – as they continue to mold and shape this life I’ve been given. I pray to savor the experiences. I pray to always hear the laughter.
“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (Romans 8:28)