Learning How To Be Blessed

I’ve spent so much of my life trying to figure out how to “be blessed.” I’ve come at it from different angles in different seasons of my life, depending on my perspective at the time. But I’ve always been trying to answer the same question: What do I need to do in order to achieve happiness, health, healing, balance and success?

photo: Maco, Creative Commons
photo: Maco, Creative Commons

I would read books, articles, magazines, The Bible, listen to podcasts, seek wisdom wherever else I could think to find it, trying to uncover the perfect formula for “blessed” finances, a “blessed” marriage, a “blessed” career and a “blessed” social life.

But lately I’ve been wondering: What does it even mean to be blessed?

Typically, I think of blessings as things that make me happy and comfortable. I think of blessings as things like book sales, paychecks, couches, coffee, good conversations, or a night out with friends. Blessings are good relationships with family members or unexpected gifts from my husband.

Isn’t that what blessings are?

When I get flowers or perfume or new clothes I say I’m blessed. I say a blessing over each meal, rich with flavor and nutrition. I pray a friend will be “blessed” with a job she is seeking, or a beautiful home or the marriage she’s always dreamed of.

When I find myself overcome with grief or boredom or fear, I remind myself of all the ways I am blessed — that I am warm, I am fed, I have a roof over my head.

Of course, all of these are blessings. But is this the only way to be blessed?

Recently, I traveled to Guatemala, and I was struck by the fact that, although the people I met in this developing country didn’t enjoy any of the “blessings” I commonly name in my life, they are blessed. In fact, they are so blessed, they passed their blessing on to me in a way I can only hope to mimic.

My experience made me wonder: What if my definition of “blessed” is just way too thin?

I want to tread carefully here, because I don’t want to minimize or ignore the fact that there are real needs which must be met. People all over the world are suffering because of lack of blessings I enjoy everyday —  like food, love, security, and belonging.

But what if they know how to be blessed in a way I am not?

What if blessing is bigger than we realize? What if the things we dread, or pray against or would never wish on our worst enemy can be blessings, too?

For example, what if it is a blessing, in a way, to be without a job — because it gives me the opportunity to see how I am not the sum of what I do?

What if it is a blessing to feel depressed, because sinking to the pit of despair gives me a chance to put grief and bitterness to death, and become someone new?

What if I am blessed when I can’t shop at Anthropologie, or buy a new Mini Cooper, or get myself an iPad, because only then do I discover that clothes and cars and technology do not make me valuable.

I already am valuable.

What if I am blessed, in a way, when finances are tight, because I learn about creativity, innovation, and God’s unending love?

What if failure is as big a blessing as success?

What if this is how I learn, or grow, or am redirected to something new?

What if it is a blessing to be pushed out, or disowned, or disregarded by people I love? What if having empathy for those on the outside teaches me how to be the kind of person who invites others in?

What if I’m blessed when I argue with my husband, or my parents, or a co-worker, because conflict gives us a chance to come to new understanding?

What if I am blessed when I don’t have much money for Christmas presents, because then I am able to focus on what really matters around the holidays, rather than fighting traffic and crowds to buy presents I’ll donate to Goodwill in coming years?

What if I’m blessed and I don’t even know it?

What if we all did a better job of sharing our blessings with others? What if we all learned how to be blessed in new ways?

About Allison Vesterfelt

I help people uncover their true self through the art of writing. Author of Packing Light. You can connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Carolyn Jayne says

    My life changed when I heard Jesus say,
    “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be.” Isaiah 43:10 (NLT)
    No longer drawn to all the glitter this life had to offer, I finally found satisfaction, in knowing Him.
    I don’t know you well enough to say you are treading toward the deep end, you may already be there, and this post is intended to invite others out of the shallow end.
    But, I thank God for this “blessing” of knowing I am not in the “deep” end alone. All the questions you pose speak of this call to know more then simply what is before us.
    Thank you Ally.

  2. Holly says

    I have been thinking in a similar way the past couple of weeks, but about “gratitude” instead of “blessed.” If we were truly grateful for what we do have, whether generous blessing or difficult circumstances, would we find blessing? I have and will continue to pray through this one! :)

  3. Ashley M. says

    Really great post, Allison, thank you! It’s helping me to think differently about my circumstances the more I lean into “packing light.” Loved your audiobook too! This statement really stood out to me:

    “What if it is a blessing, in a way, to be without a job-because it gives me the opportunity to see how I am not the sum of what I do?”

    Wow! I guess I didn’t realize how my identity had become wrapped up in having a “full-time 9-5 job” so to speak. This season of transition has been intense at times, and I honestly haven’t considered it to be a “blessing,” even though I know it was the God-led step for me to take. Thanks for this shift in perspective :)

  4. Fiona says

    That’s a challenge, isn’t it? My father passed away a few years ago, and although it was a painful experience, I feel blessed that God saw me through that time, and also that He equipped me with empathy and love for those going through a bereavement – I had had several friends whose parents had passed away shortly before my Dad, and I had no idea until that point what they had gone through and how selfish I had been…

  5. Lauren Palmer says

    In ancient Israel, when people spoke of being “blessed,” they were most likely referring to the presence of God. When a person greeted someone during that time period, they would say something that generally meant, “You are blessed, for God is with you and goes before you.” Indeed, we are all blessed. Even if we don’t believe there is a God or acknowledge God’s existence, God is still present with us – God is the God of all people.
    Also, in reference to, “What if failure is as big a blessing as success?” I was thinking that maybe our definition of failure and success are wrong too. Who is defining these things for us? Are they different for all people? Society sees not having a lot of money as failure. It’s not though. Maybe that’s something you were trying to say anyways. Thank you for your thoughts – I enjoy reading your posts.

  6. Lacey says

    I agree with this deeply. I’ve been wrestling through it too, in a time of discontent and desiring change. My definition of blessing is changing and morphing with this understanding.

    God bless you, Allison.

  7. Rachel says

    I love this post. As I work my way through the trenches, I see the blessings before me….and the ways I am able to bless others as a result of my own trials.

  8. Bonnie-Jean says

    My husband and I have been talking recently about how we should pray. We’ve been finding it hard to pray when requested by others in church as we feel we are expected to pray that problems will go away and to pray for a ‘blessed’ life for others. Of course we don’t want to pray for hardships to come but when they do, how are we to know that it’s not actually God’s will for this person at this time???

    Thank you for your post – the simplicity of hardship as being a blessing is so true. I know that my own tough experiences over the last few years have each been a blessing in so many ways. Of course I didn’t see it at the time and found each hardship extremely painful but they have helped me to grow; to understand myself better and therefore make better decisions that affect my family; to dig deeper in my relationships with others; and to appreciate the life I have so much more.

    But yet how to pray for the individual right in the middle of the storm – I’m still not sure – except (as mentioned above in the comments) God be with you as the greatest blessing of all.

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