I love where I live. North America has an abundance of beautiful spaces–lakes, glaciers, forests, ocean–and almost every day I am grateful for this land I call home.
Recently, an acquaintance of mine posted her vacation pictures and it looks like she too enjoys many of the same things. She saw some one-of-a-kind sights that I hope to see myself one day. Someone commented on her cruise photo:
“It looks like you have a blessed life.”
On the face of it, the commenter was talking about how wonderful it is that my friend and her husband have the opportunity to travel as often as they do. I don’t know the commenter, so I can’t possibly know the motives behind the sentence. Like all comments, it must remain in context (and I don’t know the context of their relationship). So, as much as this may seem like a judgement, it’s not meant to be. Her sentence was simply the springboard for this post.
There are two things in how it is phrased that trouble me. The first is, “It looks like…”
This is one of the challenges of social media. What something looks like isn’t necessarily what it is. Many people, myself included, are more likely to put the best moments out in cyberspace and reserve the worst for their closest circles. I am a fairly private introvert and as much as I think nearly anything can be found out there in internet-land, I don’t want my worst moments popping up on my computer monitor every time I do a search. Once it’s out there, it can’t be taken back. I don’t want my mom or children in my life to see them either, so for the most part I choose to save those moments for my face-to-face conversations with my closest friends. These are the people I trust to keep me real, to have my back, to hold me up when I need them–and who let me do the same for them.
Some however, have interpreted that as a kind of dishonesty. There is merit to this opinion if we choose to play the “my life isn’t as good as their’s is” game and let’s face it, a lot of us do.
“Why can’t I get my book published? Why can’t I travel? Why don’t I have ten gazillion likes on my page, or comments on my blog? Why wasn’t I invited? Why can’t I afford it? Why does she have it so easy and I have it so hard? Why, why, why?”
There are good reasons to put some stuff out there. Social media is an effective way to broadcast a prayer request or to quickly get out word about a missing child, for example. It’s also a good medium for sharing life lessons learned. It is, again, a contextual issue.
Now, let’s go back to the comment. “It looks like…you have a blessed life.“
There is no question blessings abound in Canada. But blessings and prosperity are not the same thing. Some of the worst times of my life are, in retrospect, where the biggest blessings were. The challenges I faced changed who I am, not what I have. I grew more into the person I was made to be, a wealth that has nothing to do with my home or the material things I have in it.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Galatians 5: 22 The Message
What blessings do you see in your life?