Wednesday, December 11, 2013

On Bad Luck and Blessings

Jesus turns my world upside down. Specifically, when it comes to blessings.

Over the last few months, according to the world's standards, I have been considerably un-blessed.    In July, I secured a buyer for my company and we set to close at the end of August. Around the same time, I was recommended for a director position with Compassion International, so I applied. In September, I was selected as one of 3 candidates for the position, and flew to Colorado Springs for a series of interviews. I was really amazed. I felt under-qualified, but so grateful for the recommendation and humbled that God would provide such an opportunity right after I sold my business. Before I flew to Colorado, the Compassion Int'l recruiter I was working with talked to me about another, similar position he was recruiting for and let me know that I was being considered for it as well. So I thought I would definitely be working for Compassion in one of the two positions.

But, no.

After 8 interviews, I was not chosen for either position. Humbling. And slightly anxiety-inducing. slightly. I realized my savings weren't going to keep paying me forever and I had put all of my eggs in one basket. The wrong basket. Oopsie.

Meanwhile, someone I've known for quite some time started pursuing me romantically. In many ways, he seemed to be the person I had been waiting for: kind, generous, encouraging, supportive, a leader in the community and at church, loves the Lord, a family man. He treated me the way I'd longed to be treated for a very long time. I loved it.

It was an interesting juxtaposition: the excitement of a new relationship and being cared for the way I'd always hoped to be cared for while becoming increasingly scared about my financial situation and wondering why in the world I couldn't land a job.

For a long time, the sermon on the mount has been an important passage in my walk with Jesus. And so it quickly occurred to me that the position I was in was perfect. God knows me so well. So much better than I know myself. He knows my tendency to throw myself into a new relationship with little regard for what He says about it. He knows I need to be tethered to Him through trials. And so I knew that my financial/job situation was a blessing.

I was blessed by the new relationship. Certainly, good things are blessings. But I am never more blessed than when I am clinging to God through prayer and petition. When things are going well, I'm thankful. But I may be reckless. God has taught me through trials to wait on Him, to move forward gingerly, and to prize wisdom.

My life looked much different when compared to the man's I was dating. Most would call his a blessed life: a lucrative career, gorgeous home, well-liked by everyone, and a stellar reputation. Not perfect, certainly. He has endured great pain. But in the moment, it was impossible not to compare my circumstances to his. And I was tempted to feel bad about my situation and wonder what I'd done wrong.

After I'd heard my trials called "bad luck" a few times, I dug in and asked God to define them. And what I got was a reminder that following Jesus into the trenches leads to hardship. And that hardship drives us to seek help. Being vulnerable is scary, but the position is one of a beggar. And in His sermon on the mount, Jesus says we are blessed when we are in that position. When I am on my knees with my hand out for help, I am in a position to receive Him.

People all around me refer to the good things in the their lives as blessings. And I do think that we should be so very grateful for the good things in our lives. Things that look good from the outside. But what about the things that look bad from the outside? The circumstances that feel so scary? That put us in a place of vulnerability? Jesus calls us blessed when we're in that position. So why don't we ever refer to trials as blessings?

It's interesting. I have been blessed by so many trials. But even so, when a new one is birthed in my life, I never, ever say, "God has blessed me, indeed!" And while that is true, God never stops blessing me. He never scolds me for not viewing a trial as a blessing immediately. No, that's not His way. He pursues our love relationship steadfastly. He knows that I am human. I am the creature. He, the Creator. He sees it all for what it is and gently guides me through it.

His ways are not our ways. And they are always good.

1 comment:

kathyescobar said...

thanks for sharing this, erin. so good, the thought that "blessings" mean something very specific that somehow fits with our paradigm of "good" and when things aren't quite the-way-we-thought, they don't feel like that's what we call them. i love this reminder.this upside down Jesus thing is so good but it can feel a little crazy-making sometimes because it so doesn't make "sense." peace.