My children are smarter than me.
I say this regularly and I think people think I am being silly. It’s true and I’ll say it again: my girls are smarter than me. I may still need to provide them with instruction and guidance as it relates to riding a bike, driving a car, eating broccoli, and setting boundaries on dates, but they are solid on some of the heavy fundamentals in ways that I am not.
Audrey has been playing this new game on her ipad. You choose a song and you’re only allowed to hit certain piano keys and if you hit the wrong key, you’re out and have to start again. Tonight she was trying very hard to master a song and getting frustrated that she couldn’t do it. I thought I might distract her for a bit, and our conversation went like this.
me: Walk away from it for a few minutes and then try again later.
me: What song is that?
Audrey: Thanks to God or Blessed by God or something.
me: Why’d you choose that song?
Audrey: Because it reminds me of church. I like church music.
me: Who do you think is blessed?
me: Why do you think we’re blessed?
Audrey: Because God loves us.
At age 7, Audrey understands a truth that I often overlook. We are blessed because God loves us. I am blessed and Ella is blessed and Audrey is blessed.
It hasn’t felt like we’re blessed in quite some time. Things are better – life is not so chaotic, we’re not crying every day, we go out and have fun and enjoy friends. In fact, we laugh every day and we smile every day and we play every day. But blessed? That’s for people who have an awesome life and who love their life and who don’t have problems. That’s for people with intact families where Mom and Dad live in one house together with the children, and they eat meals together and play games together and plan vacations together.
But the truth is we were living that “blessing” one year ago and it was a lie. We looked like we were living that blessing and 3 of us thought we were living that blessing, but that wasn’t the truth – even if we didn’t know it.
When I think about the periods of my life where I felt blessed and I said things like “I’m so blessed” or “we’re so blessed,” it’s almost always been after a particularly challenging period. So in truth, whether or not I actively thought about it, deep down I believed that blessed means better than.
I was not blessed to discover that Audrey had cancer. However, when I met other parents who had a child with a higher stage or a worse prognosis, I suddenly felt blessed.
I was not blessed to discover that my marriage was a complete sham. However, as I’ve heard stories of people’s kids taken away and bank accounts being frozen and fights over houses, my breakup really wasn’t all that bad. And suddenly I again felt blessed.
But that’s not blessed. That’s better than. That’s ‘my situation isn’t as bad as yours, so I must be blessed and thankful.’
Who do you think is blessed? Us, Audrey said. US. And I can’t quite embrace it. I really want to say, “Really? Us? You think?” Of course, I won’t say that but I am still thinking about it, and so I’m writing it down. I am writing it down because I am still so startled by the simplicity of her follow-up: because God loves us.
Blessed is what I am no matter what my situation or environment. Blessed is what I am because God loves me.
I know this is true. And yet, the truth is I am skeptical and I have mixed feelings about it. And maybe that makes me a bad Christian. I hope not, and now I have to worry about that, too. (There’s no end to the things I will allow myself to obsess over.)
Are we blessed? I know we are, and in many ways. But it doesn’t always feel like it. And it doesn’t always feel like it because I’m applying the “better than” rules. And I think it doesn’t really matter whether or not it feels like it – feelings don’t really matter in this blessing discussion. We are loved whether or not we feel it. God loves us even if we forget it sometimes. And that love isn’t dependent on how we’ve behaved or what’s happened in our lives. It is.
Today, a serious 7-year-old reminded a skeptical and silly 45-year-old of a very simple truth: blessed is what we are because God loves us.
Blessed be (the fruit loops).