Every Thursday, we stop to recognize all the moments where we’ve allowed ourselves to cooperate with God’s grace, and all the moments we recognize when God’s grace poured forth even without our willing cooperation.
There is the story of the woman in the Philippines, caught in the midst of that terrible storm, she gave birth to a baby she gave the middle name of “Joy.” This is rock-solid-beyond-anything-possible faith, to have enough hope in the midst of devastation as far as the eye can see, to stop and marvel at new life and beauty and name it by naming your child.
I growl because I see only one of my son’s shoes and I know, if I don’t start looking now, tomorrow when the other shoe is needed, everything will fall apart. I know I need to grow in appreciation of the beauty and life surrounding me, because sometimes, I can only see the chores, errands, and tasks remaining. I cannot in those dark moments, power my way through. My humor evaporates and there’s this unpleasant martyr mom no one likes. Hugs, chocolate, Diet Coke, friends, family: all of that helps, but ultimately, the problem of not cooperating with grace rests in my heart, and is something deeper prayer and willful fasting will have to uproot.
Counting the blessings: forcing myself to stop and count the blessings. This is why Small Success Thursday matters so much for me personally. I can easily count the non-blessings and the trials, and it drowns the spirit in trivial pain, death by dust bunnies, bills, errands, and splinters.
So I need to count the blessings as a protest against the sharper edges and wear-and-tear of everyday life. It is an act of defiance, not in the league of the woman who named her child Joy, but a step closer to her type of faith life, and farther from the not so pleasant person I could be if I stay steeped in the and and and pile of living. I need the both and.
1. So I am grateful, really grateful, to my husband for purchasing emergency chocolate, and to my son who looked at the pile and in a moment of wry humor after he’d given me a hard time said, “I should get you more of that.” It was a beautiful adolescent way of saying, “I love you.” He also jumped out of the car (he’d forgotten his coat and it was cold), and took up the garbage cans from the curb. It was a moment where I saw the thoughtful man he would become, emerging for a moment from the young teen that he is.
2. I also thank God for my daughter who makes me stop. She makes tea every night and brings me a cup at the end of the day. It is a gesture that says stop. I have an aunt who told me when I first became a mom to learn to like hot tea. I asked why. She told me that you couldn’t rush drinking hot tea, it made you pause and relax. You had to relax to drink it, and mothers often don’t think they have permission to relax. Drinking tea demands relaxing time.
3. This week, I received the odd blessing of not being able to write on my laptop when it got a virus just as I was preparing to type up of all things, Small Success Thursday. As a result, I spent the hour at my son’s basketball practice talking to a friend who is in between jobs. That sharing would not have happened if I’d locked myself in my own little virtual world. God is always about breaking us out of our cocoons and I admit, I’d been seeking to cocoon or hibernate, or hide from the world that seemed much too hard even though all the trials I experienced seem trivial at best. The visit became a moment where a family friendship deepened.
God uses even our moments of pain, big and small, to pull us closer, to demand we love bigger and better than our comfort zone would dictate, for our own comfort zones always draw more narrow parameters than God’s will proposes. So come and join me in counting all the ways in which your life, despite whatever trials might cause you to stumble, grumble and cry, is blessed. For if we really think about it, no matter what the trial, God loves all of us so lavishly, Blessed are you.
Now, it’s your turn.
Copyright 2013 Sherry Antonetti