Last night I wrote a pretty heavy post. Tonight's post is the balance, the other side of the coin. Tonight I write about blessings.
Though following Christ does not guarantee you blessings on this earth, living a life of genuine love and kindness tends to allow for some special blessings. Sure, sometimes really terrible people have really easy lives. And sometimes really wonderful people struggle every moment. It's not a promise. But it is a possibility. And there's something I believe about blessings that I'd like to challenge you with tonight: I don't think blessings are the THINGS we receive or have in our lives; I think blessings are the perspective or attitude of thanksgiving we choose in our lives. We aren't blessed merely when we have much; we are blessed when we are able to be thankful for much.
Several months ago I wrote about this idea on my Facebook page. You can check out that note here https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=464738497360 if you want. Or maybe you've heard this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CSVqHcdhXQ (and if you haven't, I strongly encourage you to let it play in the background while you read on).
Let me give you a case-in-point from the very real world of Casa de la Powell. Last night (or rather, early this morning), we were stirred from our sleep by loud music coming from a house down the street. Apparently a party was spilling over into the street in front of the house, and people were enjoying conversation at likewise loud volume despite the clock insisting it was 3AM. I sighed, rolled, over, and tried to let the fuzz of sleep settle back over me. Not long after my eyes closed, Oren started crying. Nathan went in to check him and discovered a scene only fellow parents can appreciate: he'd had a blow-out in his sleep. Not a little too-much-poop-for-the-diaper-to-hold blow-out. No, this was a frothy, stinky, warm, runny mess. All over Oren, his sheets, his clothes, his bed...and it stunk. Bad. Oren had gagged in the stench and thrown up a bit too and was gagging and crying when Nate stumbled upon the scene and called out to me for help. Some of you have been there, and you're either gagging or laughing at the memory. Some of you may even be hearing Nelson of the Simpsons saying "HA-ha!" as you read this. Yep, we get it. Anyway, Nathan was frozen, so I suggested he whisk Oren to the tub, and since Nathan is a truly wonderful father, he did, and even managed the squishy clothes with tact. I stripped the bed, gathered the laundry, and took the whole mess down to the basement and straight to the washing machine, all while breathing as little as possible and whispering quiet prayers for my youngest son. Long story short, though Oren was VERY upset, our efforts resulted in a (temporarily) clean son and bed, and I found myself holding my little boy in my arms until he was soothed enough to fall back to sleep. When he's really upset, after the sobbing quiets, Oren does this sighing thing. He sighs heavily, deep in his chest, with every breath at first, and then every third or fourth breath after he starts to calm. As his toddler-sized chest was sighing, steadily at first, then less and less against mine, I realized I was praying. And my prayer wasn't, "God, heal my son and make him well..." like it had been minutes before. Instead, much to my initial surprise, my prayers were, "God, thank you for this chance to hold my little boy while he's still [relatively] little, for the power of a mother's touch to calm and soothe, for these quiet minutes to just be with my son." I realized, despite the true horror of poop-gone-bad, this blow-out created a chance for me to stop and snuggle my precious little boy.
So is a blow-out a blessing? Well, um, not exactly...but the perspective it gave me is.
I've been living out a challenge for a while. Life is often difficult, and sometimes it's downright desperate. I think of my cousin Jay and his wife Mary facing their daughter's cancer or my co-worker Deb's son's battle with aggressive tumors as well. I think of Joplin, Japan, Haiti. I think of the persecuted Church around the world. I think of little girls in Cambodia and Thailand trapped in the world of sex slavery. I think of broken marriages, depression, destitution, and fear. Even in my own life I face desperation. Life with EDS can be scary, or at the very least, discouraging. And we all have burdens like this, regardless of the scope or scale. We all hurt.
But the challenge is this: in the midst of our hurt, even our desperation, can we find the perspective that reveals the blessings?
When poop explodes across your world, can you praise God?
So tonight, I encourage you to look for the blessings. And, if you want, I'd love for you to share them here. But if you want to share your own poop stories--and I know you have them!--you HAVE to include the blessings you found once the stench cleared :)