June 24, 2014

Blessed

When we moved to Georgia and met with the leasing agent to sign for our house, she looked at Finn and Mary, commented on how cute they are (I agree!), and told us how blessed we are. It's one of those comments that I smile for, nod in agreement, and yet cringe inwardly. After she left I asked Miles what he thinks when people make comments like that - saying how "lucky" we are our how "blessed" we are. We agreed that those comments are well intentioned, and true, and yet they are still just a little hard to digest. Because on one hand, I want to say, "if only you knew." If only you knew that we actually have another child who died at birth. That eight months after his son died, Miles' brother was killed in Afghanistan. That we had a miscarriage in between Finn and Mary, that the two cute children you see before you - it's not that we don't think we are lucky to have them, it's just that you don't know just how insanely lucky we are to have them in spite of all the bad luck that has come our way.

Several months ago I read this article which really resonated with me. The author argues that Christians should stop saying how blessed they are when it comes to materialistic possessions. That the definition of a blessing, or being blessed, according to the bible is pretty much the opposite of what modern day society depicts.  (eg - Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted  - Matthew 5:4).

But because of the way the most people view blessings, it's equally hard to digest the fact that the Bible says I'm blessed because I mourn. It seems counter-intuitive. But I'm trying to get better at not cringing when I hear people tell me how blessed I am, or how lucky we are. Because the fact of the matter is - we are blessed (both in the biblical sense and the modern sense). We have two adorable and healthy kids. I was able to carry and deliver three children. It really is amazing and I'm trying to handle those comments a little more graciously and let go of some of the bitterness. When someone tells me I'm lucky, I can't look at these faces and disagree.


Cale's death was unlucky and awful and heartbreaking. But it doesn't make Finn or Mary's presence any less wonderful. In fact it has the opposite effect.

It's just that even when I have some clarity and I can accept at face value how lucky I am, I wish I was even luckier. I wish I was even more blessed. I wish I had a nearly four year old who also needed a story and a snuggle before bed. I wish being blessed didn't feel like it had an asterisk next to it.

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As we round the corner to Cale's fourth birthday, we are raising funds for The Zoe Foundation, a local non-profit that helps newly bereaved families who have lost an infant by providing resources, support and funds to help cover memorial expenses. We will be running a 5K in July which benefits the Zoe Foundation and felt raising funds for their worthy cause would be the perfect thing to do in honor of Cale. If you would like to help us by making a donation, you can do so here. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

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4 comments:

  1. I love this post. The word "blessed" totally makes me squeamish for all the reasons you stated. And I DO feel damn lucky and also incredibly unlucky and awfully jealous of people who are SO lucky and don't even know/appreciate just how lucky they are. And if it's "lucky" to have all your kids be alive, then why does it seem like EVERYBODY but me is lucky?

    I also really like the article you mentioned. It's hard to feel blessed when mourning, but it's sleazy to think that I'm blessed by God just because I have more material wealth than many people in the world.

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  2. This is all so true, and I am definitely guilty of it of using 'blessed' interchangeably with 'lucky.' But you're right, the beatitudes very clearly spell out what it really means. And God certainly doesn't love those who haven't had to live through misfortune any more or less than those who have. I think you're plenty justified in your reaction--I feel defensive for you just reading about the interaction and knowing all she really didn't know. It's good that you're trying to release some of it for some more peace for yourself at least. But I think the fact that you're even wrestling with it shows just how lucky AND blessed Cale is to have you as his Mommy.
    Can't wait to hear all about the 5k.

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  3. This piece really resonated with me, Caroline. So much so I had to walk away from it and carry it around in my pocket a while. I struggle with this idea of "blessed" as well. I struggle because it leaves out the "unblessed," but yet there are moments when I know I am...in some way or another. I lived. By all accounts I "shouldn't have" yet I lived. Does that make me blessed? Blessed with good fortune, right doctors and a merciful situation which saved me but not my daughter.

    Yet the idea of being "blessed" through my loss is unimaginable. I know the Bibles states that I am, but this does not feel like a blessing. I am reminded of a woman I knew as a child. She had an expression of saying "such a blessing, such a blessing" usually in an exasperated tone which smacked of the fact she was attempting to convince HERSELF that the issue at hand was, indeed, a blessing.

    I think that is where I stand on it. "Such a blessing," I am still trying to convince myself.

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  4. Love this post too. I agree I hate when people brag about what they have. And I never really thought about being blessed to mourn but I think I can understand (now). While it's so devastating what we have gone through losing our son, we are blessed that we had the opportunity to know him at all. I really like thinking about it like that.

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