Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Blessing or Just Luck?

A friend of mine, whom I know only from World of Warcraft, has been talking about how blessed he is.

If you know me very well, you know I have issues with the institutionalized church. I felt the flavor (Lutheran) where I happened to worship God let me down in a big way when I divorced. Carole and I were openly shunned by members of the hierarchy of that particular building. When I asked if there were any programs for people going through divorce, the Bishop of the church himself said there was nothing official. Ministering to people like me was left to individual churches. I was, pretty much, on my own. The Catholic Church has divorce groups for people and they don't let you partake of church sacraments if you divorce. The Lutheran Church seemed to just pat you on the head and say, "It'll all be better. Now run along and play."

Hence I have, for the last 10 years, wrestled with this notion of a God who even cares, let alone passes blessings my way. A lot in my life would support the notion of a God who is "up there", probably loves me, but is relatively inactive in my life. Now, I'm not looking for a "Dear God, please cure my pen pal of her cancer." Or even a "Dear God, I really need a parking space in downtown Glen Ellyn." I do pray, on occasion, for others. I rarely pray for myself. If you've seen the movie "Bruce Almighty", remember the scene where Jim Carrey sits down at his computer to look at prayer requests and there are something like 3 million of them, just from a 20 block area. It's overload in deciding which one to grant and which to deny.

In a way, I feel God is like that. He gets so many prayers every nanosecond of every day that my simple, "Please give Charly a reason to smile today" goes unnoticed. It's not that I'm mad at God. I went through that when my dad died. It's just that God is busy elsewhere; Haiti, China, Iceland, down the street, that my little prayers get swallowed up by the whole. And when life kicks me yet again, especially when I've given my best and my best isn't good enough, it's hard to feel there is any sort of activity between this God and me. So Jon's occasional "I am so blessed" statements always sort of rubbed me the wrong way.

I spent last month making a conscious decision to change how I viewed my luck or lack thereof. The $14 slim paperback book I bought last year came down to a perception issue. Lucky people see themselves as lucky and see set backs as simply different views of luck. It was suggested to keep a luck journal, the book at the top, and write down every lucky thing that happened in the course of a day.

This was a challenge on some days. I started out with one entry per day, something as simple as "I am lucky I don't have any other person living with me. I can eat what I want when I want, sleep as long as I want, shower when I feel like it on weekends and, essentially, do my own thing." The longer I did this, the more small items I found that I could classify as "good luck". I found myself filling a page with things. Who knew there were so many things one could feel lucky about.

The best thing to come from this experiment was the change in my attitude and here's where the notion of blessings comes in. I felt kicked in the teeth by the bank, stomped on, used. Yet, it is what it is and I can't change things. I have emailed the situation to my representatives and my attorney general and the Better Business Bureau. I no more hold the hope that they will do anything and, in my email, I did not ask for anything. I said I simply wanted them to know what's happened to me and how this is not, as far as this consumer is concerned, bank reform. To date, I have heard back from the BBB and the attorney general's office and those were standard, "Thank you for sending us feedback" emails. I was upset on the 14th and then I let it go. No good can come from stewing about it. I move on. I recognize my change of attitude as coming directly from forcing myself to see things in light of good luck rather than bad.

So when Jon mentioned being blessed on the 12th, I sort of dismissed his comment, mentally giving him a pat on the head, a lollipop and sending him out the door to play with his friends. But the next day, I went to Iowa to fix a machine and I could not get his comment out of my head. "I am so blessed." Just what the hell does that mean and why is it pestering me like a sliver?

All the way to and from Iowa, I thought and thought about this. It was a glorious day. "I was blessed" to be driving to Iowa on a day such as that. "I was blessed" to have the machine call in the first time. "I was blessed" to have a dollar to pay the toll to go over the railroad bridge in Fort Madison. "I was blessed" to come home to two cats who were very, very happy to see me. "I was blessed" to have wonderful jazz CD's to listen to out and back. I could sit in my settee and make an arm's length list of all the ways I was blessed. Maybe there is something to this.

Of course, the afternoon of the 13th, I rather hit a wall at full steam when I discovered the problems with my checking account. I came home and grieved. The next day, as we had a company function to attend in the evening, I was sent home at noon since there's no overtime being paid until the economy gets better. I channeled the anger into emails and looked at my accounts. I discovered my math wasn't the best (Why are you not surprised?) and I have a small bit of funds as a cushion in the account. It still doesn't make up for a $74 overdraft charge but everything is accounted for and I'm in the black. I found credit on one card and was able to fill my gas tank and get $10 worth of groceries which included kitty treats. That evening, at the event, I was asked to draw numbers for the cash door prizes and drew Rodney's number. While it wasn't mine, he can use the cash as much as I can and he had never won. That is definately a blessing.

My journal has gone from a "Luck" journal to a "Blessing" journal. I need to be reminded that when things appear bad, I have much that is a blessing. It can be as simple as a big black cat lying in my lap purring to as grand as my clan buying me a brand new tent and paying the entry fees so I can attend the Illinois St. Andrew Society's Highland Games this year. It's about perspective. Do I think God has his/her hand in this? Meh. Shrug. I don't really know. I just know that by actively looking for the blessings even in the most dour situations, I can think clearer and act accordingly.

I am blessed.

Beverage: China Black Tea


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