I’m Blessed?

Many might say I’ve been blessed.

I have a good life with my wonderful partner, Vicki. I have two great kids who are becoming balanced, well-adjusted young adults (at least I think they evidence this more often than not these days). They both attend a reputable private school and are doing well academically.  We live comfortably in a quiet suburb in a home that is around halfway paid off. I have a good job that bring great satisfaction, working with caring and talented people. I drive a decent car, eat healthy food, don’t suffer from any major diseases or health problems, belong to a good church and count it a privilege to have some good friends and a loving family. I’m not boasting; things aren’t perfect, but my life is relatively good.

I’m ‘blessed.’

But . . . what about my neighbour who suffers from ill health constantly? What about my friend who lost his wife to cancer? What about my work colleague who isn’t experiencing the same sort of thrill from her job as I am? What about my buddy who lost his job recently and now stands to lose his home? The list that goes on indefinitely, including the people who recently lost all in tornadoes, tsunamis, floods, and epidemics. Some live in third world countries where poverty is a given. Some only have one small meal a day . . . or every other day.

Rather than seeing my life as being one graced with material ‘blessings,’ I would say that I am fortunate. I have the good fortune to have been born in a nation that enjoys a high standard of living, has good hospitals, infrastructure, schools, safe workplaces, and abundant crops. I am fortunate to have been born into a loving family and to have completed, without much struggle, a university education.

But if I say ‘I am blessed’ as evidenced by all these circumstances, relationships and possessions, then that implies there are some who are cursed (evidenced by a lack of what I have) or, at the best, not blessed as I have been.

I cannot believe that God would choose to favour me with all sorts of earthly gifts as a sign of his blessing and leave my neighbour, whom God loves just as much as me, with so little of the same. Certainly if the rain falls on ‘the just and the unjust,’ then God does not show favouritism in blessing one and withholding the blessing from another.

We are surely fortunate. But I dare say this has, if anything, robbed us of the blessings that can only be discovered when we are not distracted by glitz and glamour of things. The blessings of God–love, peace, hope, joy–fall on those whose hands are most ready to receive, those hearts are not listening to the call of ‘more’ and whose eyes are fixed on the Giver of every perfect gift rather than on poor substitutes.

My fortunate life may, in fact, keep me from realising the greatest blessings of all. . . . something which many of those we would not immediately see as ‘blessed’ understand and enjoy better than we.

Who, then, is truly fortunate?

Always Finish What You . . .

From a very early age I have had drummed into that part of me that defines my character the adage, “Always finish what you begin.”

This has served me well throughout my life and has kept me from quitting many projects, groups, or relationships. It is a good principle to follow and one which I hope, to some degree, to instill in my own children.

However, I caught myself today in one of those “Aha!” light-bulb-goes-on moments thinking that my holding this rule so unswervingly may be one of the reasons for the stress I am feeling in my daily working life. See, I don’t like to leave anything unfinished. I don’t like loose ends. This also carries over into the speed at which I work becuase I don’t want to leave anything unfinished today.

My ideal day would end with all the loose ends tied up, all projects finished, my inbox and in-tray cleared, my computer scanned and its cache cleaned, my files backed up, all my electronic devices synchronised, desk tidy, pencils sharpened, and everything ready for a fantastic start the next day.

But that rarely happens. Thus the reason for my stress.

Yet I am the first one to say, regarding the spiritual life, “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey,” or “Enjoy the journey.”

Can’t–shouldn’t–this also apply to other areas of my life?

It may be that I need to allow jobs that aren’t urgent (“urgent” being defined as those with a deadline imposed by those above me) to remain a “work in progress” for a little longer, my desk to sometimes finish the day in a mess, my inbox and in-tray to have some unactioned material, and not be so harsh on myself. Perhaps I need to see my work as a journey and not a collection of daily or weekly destinations.

Perhaps I need to be satisfied, as I am in my spiritual journey, with a certain degree of unresolvedness, not having a neat little pigeonhole or box to put each thing. Maybe I should be content to leave my office with some dishevelment behind me. It might be that, in doing this, I may find myself  (eventually, once I get through the withdrawal period) more at peace in my work, more settled and less pressured.

Maybe I will . . .

See also: Stress Management: Ten Self-Care Techniques