When is the last time you made the comment, “I feel so blessed?” Most likely it was said when there was some association with a positive happening, a surprisingly good result, some type of comfort or the absence or the elimination of a severe problem in your life. But let’s ponder today two all-important questions: “What does it mean to be blessed?” and “What does it mean to be a blessing?”
There are many, many simple as well as quite lofty definitions that are given to the terms associated with blessing. The English dictionary takes us beyond the ordinary meanings and defines blessing as “being made holy” as opposed to the idea of being fortunate, comfortable or happy. We know very well that all the positive experiences and gifts in our lives boil down to being unmerited blessings from the Lord often received through the goodness of others.
Sadly, too often we allow ourselves to focus on the trials of life rather than on the blessings. This idea is supported clearly in the following experiment performed by a psychologist.
Taking a large sheet of paper the speaker made a black dot in the center. He held the paper up to check out what his audience saw. “A black mark,” was the response. “Right! But what else do you see?” he asked. The speaker was surprised that no one saw anything else. They had missed the most important thing of all – the sheet of paper.
We might very well be those persons who would miss identifying the paper. We are distracted by the small “dots” in our lives and we forget the many sheets of paper, “the blessings,” we receive from the Lord. We simply forget the sheet of paper, the good things that are far more important than those adversities that sadly capture all our attention. I recently came upon the familiar quote from a clergyman who reminds us of the often spoken saying about blessings. “Count your blessings – not your problems.” But then he added wisely, “Write your problems in sand and write your blessings on stones. As you travel down life’s highway may this ever be your goal: Keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.” These simple sayings can become a thoughtful ritual to remind us of the way to live our lives. When we incorrectly focus on our problems or upon the hole, we place too much emphasis on our own concerns. Rather, we must focus on our blessings and the donut.
With that focus we are better able to share our blessings in the world. Perhaps we will not always use the explicit word “blessing” in our dealings with others, but when we reach toward one another there is no question that we can become a blessing in each others’ lives without the words. We are all thirsting for blessings. So, bless one another with whatever form this might take. Bless them with words themselves or simply with your actions done for them. The following story is a wonderful example of this.
A ship was wrecked during a storm and only two men survived on a desert island. Being good friends they agreed to pray to God and discover whose prayers were more powerful. Their first prayer was for food. Man #1 enjoyed the fruit he found on a special tree; the other man’s land remained barren. The first man prayed for shelter, clothes and more food; he found these while the other man got nothing. Man #1 prayed for a wife, then a ship so they both could leave the island which they did, while the second man, with no resources had to remain on the island alone. Because only man #1 had his prayers answered, he felt his friend deserved nothing. Then a voice spoke to the first man. Your friend had only one prayer which I answered! That is why you received all my many blessings. He prayed that all your prayers would be answered!
A minister who served as a hospital chaplain offers us some good advice. Don’t ask “What do I want?” but rather ask “What do I want to give?” And so we ask ourselves: How can I be a blessing today? Her advice is that we try to walk through life with the intention of being a blessing wherever we are and for whomever we encounter. Life is a combination of being thankful for what we have as blessing and sharing those blessings with others who need a fraction of what we have and can give away. “Appreciate daily,” she suggests, “…the great gift it is to be able to move in the world accepting our own blessings with grace and gratitude and then using them to bless the world in the spirit of love.” Finally, she suggests that we repeat this short, but meaningful little prayer often as each day we want to remember that we are a blessing and we must do all we can to be a blessing for others.
“Lord, may I be what’s needed.
May I be of service.
May I be a blessing!”
Sister Lauretta Leipzig