3.2.10

I once was blind...


"You don't deserve anything," he said, and the words stung. "No one does."

"You aren't owed anything. Stop acting as though you are. You're alive. Everything else is is gravy. It's just an accident that you are in North America worried about getting the birth you want and not in Africa somewhere just hoping you live through the birth of your next child and drinking dirty water from a mud hole. You are not entitled to any more than anyone else. You are not more special than anyone else. Everything you have is a gift. Stop acting like the world owes you anything, it doesn't."

It took 7 years of marriage to get to this point, where I could hear, and he could say. Seven years of him enduring my complaining, restless, thankless ways. Seven years of my failing to see the love in action as he rose early and worked daily and stayed when he'd rather go sometimes. I complained that I didn't feel loved anymore. Seven years of me growing up as I had not known I needed to, just to grow the strength to hear what I needed to hear without rejecting it.

It hurt. But it was true. I asked, he answered, and he was right. I behaved like a spoiled child, even while going through the motions of being an adult. I compared my life to the way it was "supposed to be" asking "Why me?", rather than live with the way it actually is, a product of my own choices. Where the idea of what it ought to be came from I don't even know but there was a standard in my head, and I constantly measured my life against it.

I finally understood. He wasn't saying it to be cruel. He was saying it because living like I was owed something, living a thankless life, was making me miserable, and I was destroying the life I did have wallowing in self pity over should-have-beens and what ifs.

Can I even begin to describe the difference it makes to really understand that nothing but circumstance separates me from any one, anywhere? When I put myself in the shoes of a woman raising her children on less than a dollar a day in a house built of cardboard and realize that she and I are the same, I don't deserve my life of luxury and ease with clean tap water and adequate food any more than she deserves her rat and flea ridden existence, always at the edge of hunger, it changes me. The things I take most for granted she would consider miraculous, precious gifts. So why don't I give thanks as she would for what I have?

The world doesn't owe me anything. God doesn't owe me anything... in fact... I am indebted for the goodness I have been given, the abundance that is my life. How can I, who have been given so much act as though I am owed even more? Like a child at the close of a party filled with wonderful gifts weeping into her pillow at the absence of one coveted item, forgetting completely the bounty of the day. Had she no gifts at all she still has the love of her parents, food in her belly, and a pillow to cry in, but she sees none of that for the thing she wants but did not get.

Yet I am loved still, and have known love all my life. Gently the One who loves me takes my hand, speaks through the man He has given me to love, and shows me my sister, that woman living in the cardboard house, no more deserving of her fate than I of mine and asks, "Do you see?"

It's as though I have been blind, and finally my eyes open. I see my life for what it is, a gift; every messy, beautiful, hard, and painful bit of it. I see that even she treasures the gift of the life she is given, the children she bears, the joys and sorrows of being alive. "Just being alive is a gift, anything else is gravy on top."

His words start to sink in as the days go by and I find myself wanting to fall on my face and give thanks for this little life of mine that I have been so bitterly complaining about. I ask forgiveness for being so blind and so idiotic. I want to celebrate each moment, each glorious breath. How could I have not seen it before?

"Why me?" Why not me? I live and breathe and know His love and that is enough.

Photo by Aaron.

21 comments:

  1. POWERFUL stuff.
    When I was so sick a few years ago and so close to dying, I suddenly KNEW that everything I had ever wanted and sulked over and all the things that I had wanted to be and wasted time over - all of it! - were all wastes of time, all things that had kept me from realizing how lucky I was.

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  2. Oh I love this. LOVE THIS. Thank you.

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  3. Yes. And, it is okay to want things to change. Both for you and for the woman in Africa. I am learning that the difference for me is when I connect my wanting with my happiness - like "I am unhappy because. . ." or "I will be happy when. . ."
    I can want things to be different than they are now. I can ask. I can try. And I can be happy in the meantime. And thankful for how things are.

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  4. Beck-I didn't know you were that sick ever. ANd I love that phrase about things that "Keep you from realizing how lucky you really are."

    Paisley-That's very true. Wanting to change is fine, but linking our happiness to something we hope for or wish were different rather than the here and now, that's the big mistake.

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  5. GH, Aaron6:16 PM

    your blog post made me cry hon. I corroborate that you are not now the person I said that to. that you link your development to what I said to you gives me great joy and relief. You know that i work really hard in all that idea stuff. Your post let me see that my work isn't a wasteful obsession but has, at least once, made a real difference in someone's life. thank you for writing it.

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  6. Love this post. It was exactly what I needed to read today. I like paisley's thoughts too, that it's okay to want some changes, but I need to be happy with how things are, and happy with myself in the meantime.

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  7. Beautiful post! And very timely in my life right now. Thanks so much for the encouragement.

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  8. Beautifully written. I love this. So true and so many of us in western society have a sense of entitlement and self pity. I see hints of it in my children too and it's something that I want to change in the way we are raising them. Much easier to grow up knowing than having to learn this truth as an adult.

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  9. Wow, thank you for sharing truth. A good reminder for me as I have fought "complaining and grumbling" this week in light of my circumstances. Instead I will choose patient in affliction, and I will print this post and put it on my fridge!

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  10. This is fantastic timing for me as well. Thanks, Carrien. I so appreciate you sharing your gift of words with us. I love you.

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  11. So true!! My hubby was gone all week and I wanted so badly to complain and moan and groan. And then I remembered the many women we know hows husbands work away from home week after week. . . surely I can manage four little days? And somehow I did, because look I'm still here! ;)

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  12. Beautiful post. It is easy to get caught up in what we want or see others having and forget everything we have, that none of it is truly ours and forget to be truly thankful.

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  13. What a painful thing to learn but so important. Thanks for sending me the link. I think women in particular sometimes forget this and you said it so well.

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  14. Wow! Beautiful....I enjoyed reading this today & it's exactly what I needed to hear as well. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. He is building within you a clean and grateful heart.

    And He is proud, so proud...

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  16. Great post! you're so right we don't deserve anything!
    Blessings,
    Cyndi

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  17. Great post! you're so right we don't deserve anything!
    Blessings,
    Cyndi

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  18. He is building within you a clean and grateful heart.

    And He is proud, so proud...

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  19. Beautiful post. It is easy to get caught up in what we want or see others having and forget everything we have, that none of it is truly ours and forget to be truly thankful.

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