Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Be Blessed

I've been noticing a whole lot of blessing going on. Bless, a word which used to be seen as too churchy to use in polite conversations outside of church, is everywhere. Athletes are "blessed" when they are interviewed after a game and asked about that amazing catch or walk off home run. Performers accepting an academy award are "just blessed" to be there and "blessed" to have been part of such an incredibly talented cast. Blessings are not just handed out to the rich and famous either. Have a blessed day, someone may say to you. Or, I am so blessed someone says when they are overwhelmed by the generic happiness of life as they know it. Jessica Bennett in a NY Times column catalogs all the ways her social network has been blessed these days. One friend was so "blessed" to get into the grad school of her choice. Her yoga instructor reported being "blessed" by teaching a class in the Caribbean. A new mom she knows was "feeling blessed" when her new born finally fit into his designer frock. A colleague of hers sent out a mass Facebook response, "feeling so blessed by all the love", to her 900 friends after she received 57 wall postings on her birthday. It's a blessing to be blessed today in pop culture. Comedian Erin Johnson got a Facebook post from woman he knew and all it said was, "blessed" under a booty shot of herself. Clearly, we are a long way from the Biblical sources.

As a people it would seem we are awash in blessings. But, Bennett sees a dark undercurrent to all these blessed feelings. She says what we are doing is using holiness to brag about our lives. It's a pretend humility that allows us to seem humble while really boasting about an accomplishment, fishing for a compliment or purposely eliciting envy. Humble-brags Deborah Tannen calls them.

Blessing belongs in church rather than at Trader Joe's when you just snagged a good deal on strawberries (#blessed). It's a big Biblical word because God blesses us with his kindness and good gifts. Strawberries are indeed a blessing when we see them as coming from God's hands. So is the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says we are blessed when we are persecuted for his sake and the poor, meek and mourning are blessed, too. We need to do some pondering here. We are not at Trader Joe's finding good deals anymore.

Blessing comes from God and living God's way of life. We are blessed by him and we get to bless others because of him. That is why we are here.