Stages of Outrage

There’s a lot of anger simmering under the surface sometimes. Like the Hulk, some of my drive, determination, defensiveness and stubbornness as a single woman may be rooted in a simple secret: I’m always angry.

When I laugh at the tweet I saw last week that said “If we put a woman on the twenty dollar bill, will it only be worth $15.88?”, it’s a laugh that hides a twinge of frustration.

When certain politicians co-opt my values and play on fears to get votes, I feel helpless rage.

When my favorite writers are misquoted and misappropriated to prove a point or justify an action, my inner English major goes all Braveheart.

When I arrive at an airbnb booking and there are extra charges and fees and you have to pay for towels and sheets and a 400-euro deposit in cash, and you have no option except to swallow their requirements, because cancellations forfeit the whole cost of the booking.

When my car tires get slashed by someone who makes approximately fifty times more money than I do.

When these things happen, I feel outrage. I sense the injustice of it all. I lose a little bit of hope in the world. I feel powerless to effect change, like it all matters a little bit less.

For others, however, it seems that injustice fuels the sense that the words they have to say in this stage of reaction matter MORE. Words spoken (or written on facebook) in the stage of injustice-processing classified as outrage seem to matter MORE than words spoken out of deep thought, considered study, or any sort of expertise.

It’s not because I never feel outraged at political, financial, race, class, or gender injustices that I don’t often post about them on social media or even here on our oh-so-unbiased-and-totally-like-philosophical blog. I suppose I feel that my response should be more than mere reaction, especially in this culture of outrage, where it’s common to emote outrage every other day about what this politician said or didn’t say, or how celebrity A supported or backstabbed celebrity B, how corporation A is lying and corporation B is cheating.

I’m not saying that anger doesn’t have value. but what happens beyond outrage that we often don’t record? Pick your favorite incident of outrage–an oil spill, a politician misquoting the Bible, Cedric the Lion getting shot, The Bachelor giving a rose to the wrong girl, Disney re-make ruined your favorite childhood movie, or, to use a recent example–The Cincinatti Zoo’s decision to kill Harambe the Gorilla after a four-year-old child escaped into his enclosure.

Who’s the target of your outrage? The mother? People in general who choose to propagate the species? The zoo staff? Zoos in general? The child? THE HUMAN RACE?

You see, outrage is easy. It’s our first reaction. What comes after outrage, blame, and snarky/angry comment discussions that apparently way too many people have time for? Real thought. Real conversations about important things. I am guessing many parents had good talks with their kids about not running away, about death, about how it’s important to care for animals by leaving them room. A realer, deeper anger than mere outrage.  Quietness. Grief. Despair. Confusion. Discouragement. Depression. Coping with a new normal. Healing. Hoping. Responding with life-change, instead of just reacting emotionally.

Comedian John Cleese speaks along the same lines in this video. Comedy, (which we hope can be found on this blog now and again) is a sort of thoughtfulness that takes processing, takes us beyond mere reaction. It requires a filtering and distilling, and it requires hope; a transformation that takes us past “This HAPPENED! OMG! Disaster!” to “This happened, and this is what it means for me and possibly for you, and just like with everything that has happened or will happen, there are highlights and shadows and it’s important to see both of them to get the whole picture. Also, have a laugh to keep from crying.”

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I’m No Elizabeth Bennet

If you ask anyone which of Jane Austen’s characters they relate to the most, people will invariably say “Elizabeth Bennet” for two reasons:

  1. Pride and Prejudice is Austen’s best known work and thus her most widely read and so Elizabeth is her most well-known creation. When in doubt, always pick the only name you can remember.
  2. Everyone, but EVERYONE, knows that Elizabeth Bennet is the coolest of all Austen’s heroines. And everyone wants to be as cool as Elizabeth Bennet. So we’re all looking for points of comparison and finding them against all odds, because we WANT to find them. Made a witty comment once? Has anyone ever told you your eyes are your best feature? You might be Elizabeth Bennet if…..

And this is how you get monstrosities like Bridget Jones’ Diary, broadly defined as a “modern day Elizabeth Bennet.” Bridget Jones is in reality, a woman in a modern day setting who wants to have a Mr. Darcy and Wickham fighting over her. By no means does that make Bridget Jones Lizzie Bennet.

Interesting to note, too, is that no one ever admits to being one of the other Bennet sisters. In fact, if you even suggest to someone that they remind you of one of the other siblings there can be a great deal of protestation and/or friendships ending.

But, I’m taking a stand for all the Lydias and Kittys and Marys and even Janes of the world. Because I am a Mary.

That’s right. I said it. I’m no Elizabeth Bennet. I’m a Mary Bennet. I’m not ashamed to admit it either.

Here’s my proof:

  • Intellectual and off-putting snob: Noticeable from either my vocabulary or tendency to “trump” with obscure facts no one cares about that I could have made up because everyone stopped listening anyway.
  • Socially awkward: Evidenced in my ability to make any conversation uncomfortable by over-sharing and tactlessness.
  • Introvert: Because during said conversations, in my head I’m only imagining how to leave here.
  • Condescending Teacher: Have you read my blog? But just ask my opinion on something and I can give you a “wise” answer.
  • Single: Fairly obvious, this, but my disinterest in the institution of marriage seems to neatly match Mary’s.
  • Drama-free: While I personally love hearing about drama, I’ll admit to preferring to be a wallflower while it plays out in front of me.
  • Moral Judger: Mostly because there is no drama in my life I feel free to judge the drama in others.

So there you have it. There’s my Mary connection. It’s not all bad, but that’s what I like about Mary. She’s got some poor qualities, sure, but she’s not a bad egg at the end of the day.

So how about it, ladies? Which Bennet sister are you…if you were honest?

Jane Austen Action figure

Platitude Adjustment

I’ve heard the same “encouragement proverbs” or as I personally call them, “crapped out platitudes” from two different sources. The first is, “I’m not afraid of storms for I’m learning to sail my ship” and the second is “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain”.

To both of these craptitudes I have this to say. No. No it’s not.

However, if that winsome argument doesn’t sway you, here’s my detailed observation on what’s wrong with them.

Craptitude One: “I’m not afraid of storms…”, okay. right on. I mean, me neither. I’m not a male protagonist in a blockbuster comedy. I’m an adult woman who knows that storms are not out to get me directly. I even enjoy them, you know, from the comforts of my dry home on land.

“…for I’m learning to sail my ship.” Aaaand you lost me.

Presumably our novice sailoress is out on the ocean where there is a storm headed her way and she’s totally not alarmed because she’s LEARNING. Now I’m sure she’s got the basics down, like the steering and the right and port thing, knows her aft from her ass, etc. And maybe it’s just me, but it’s when I’m in the learning stages that I’m always the most freaked out. I know to do exactly two things 1) the job when it goes as it should with no problems, and 2) how little that knowledge really is. If I’m a newbie sea-woman and a storm’s a brewing, you know what I do? I head for shore and pray I get there before the storm gets me.

I have yet to see a movie about sailors “based on real events” that didn’t feature a storm at sea in which a large chunk of people DIED. And these aren’t even movies about people that are LEARNING.

Craptitude Adjustment: “I’m not afraid of storms because I’m beginning to sail my ship which is why I’m safe at home.”

Or even,

“I’m not afraid of storms for I am an experienced sailor and I have survived many storms, know what to watch for, and know how to act quickly when sailing in inclement weather.”

Craptitude Two: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…” Let’s stop here. Because I am with you. Never jut wait out a storm. Start weather proofing your house — getting buckets, bottled water (ironically), boarding up the windows, moving treasured possessions to higher ground or just plain getting out of Dodge. Or…oh wait, it’s not done is it?

“…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Okay, sure, if your idea of a storm is a spring shower, or a sprinkle, perhaps a light misting, then by all means, dance. Give new meaning to the rain dance. Gene Kelly your worries away.

But when you say “storm” I think “wrath of God”, power outages, and flooding. You go ahead and try dancing in knee deep water as your dog paddles by you chasing the bagel you left on the couch this morning.

Craptitude Adjustment: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about weather-proofing preemptively.”

Or even,

“Life isn’t about moping over every rain shower, it’s about dancing in the mist.”

Here’s my root issue with both of these: they appear to be written by people with no experience in hardship for those with no experience in hardship. It’s the thing people get crocheted onto throw pillows or wall hangings. It’s what someone says dismissively as they put a hand on your shoulder to comfort you over a personal crisis.

It’s sometimes a poster (with matching coasters) someone thought would make a great gift.

I’ve yet to be encouraged, emboldened, or energized by someone trivializing my struggles.

This Conversation Is Not for You

I don’t like to say I’m a petty person, but I do have my peeves.

  • Breathy singing
  • Books falling down as I shelve them
  • People without spatial awareness
  • People touching me
  • People staring at me
  • People
  • Writing something and having it completely misunderstood

Boy that last one. That’s one that really gets on my nerves.

I don’t have an exceptional sense of humor, I’m aware of that. I have a mediocre sense of humor which means 50% of the time when I try to be funny either no one gets it, no one likes it, they’re annoyed, or they’re offended. And then like 2% of the time I make someone angry.

The other 50% of the time is a lot of eye rolling with a good humored smile or the popular “lol” with no change in facial expression. All fine by me, because for whatever reason people still like to listen to what I have to say.

And sometimes they like listening to what I have to say because it’s so easily contradicted. Like I said, my humor misses at least 50% of the time.

So here is my letter, and one of the few blog posts that I’m going to direct to married people.

Dear lovely misunderstood married person,

I don’t know the struggles you have. I don’t know what it’s like to be married, I don’t know how hard it is to live with the love of your life, and I don’t know the burdens that come with being devoted to another person. I don’t know what it’s like to feel trapped or isolated or abused in your relationships. I can’t speak to these troubles, and it would be a disservice to you if I tried.

I also don’t know the particulars of your life. Your personal problems, your health problems, your relational issues, financial worries, physical discomforts. I know they are different from mine, and I know that your struggles and challenges are no greater or less than mine.

I do know two things though:

  1. We all struggle. It’s the nature of life — from birth to death. I don’t need to say anything more here. I thought this was a given, but I’m fine reiterating it for those who feel I don’t perfectly comprehend that all people have difficulties.
  2. When you grow up in the church you learn that singleness is perceived as a curse, as a tragedy, as a pity, as an unfortunate and disagreeable situation.

Marriage is always the ideal, if not in secular society, than most definitely in the religious communities where I have spent my entire life.

Somehow, in spite of all this, I have managed to remain happily single. I can’t say I’ve been happy every single year for the past 30, but the years I’ve been unhappy have generally speaking not been related to lack of marital prospects.

There are so many many of my sisters and brothers in Christ that this does not hold true for.

There are so many men and women who want to be married. They long for the intimacy of marriage. For the security they see in marriage.

I know. I know. Not every marriage has that.

But what they’re also longing for is to be accepted in their social situations. They are longing to no longer be the odd man out. They are longing to be part of a pair. They are longing to be part of the conversation they have been on the outside of for so many years.
This blog is an aid to those who are longing.

I’m not sunny on a lot of topics. But on the topic of singleness of this I am convinced: it is a joy, it is a blessing, and it is not the unfortunate or sad alternative to marriage. But for those that feel this way, for those that need some encouragement, or a lift, for those that need a reminder that even in the midst of their longing and their sadness there is still a spark of delight, I write.

I am not writing for you.

I encourage you to seek out writers that do give you that acceptance, that understanding. But please, please, dear married reader, please respect that when I write, I am writing to the frustrations of my single sisters and brothers. Hopefully my posts are not bitter or cynical. Hopefully I am not exaggerating to seek sympathy, or to gain pity. This is definitely not the goal.

I am writing to those men and women who are tired, worn out, and hopeless.

Please let me address their hurts, speak to their loneliness without vocalizing about “the other side of the coin”. We all crave understanding and acceptance. When you are single, believe me, you are perpetually familiar with the concept — How many sermons have I listened to on the married life or the family life? How many dinners have I gone to where my opinions and thoughts are not weighted (rightly or wrongly so) because I have no marital experience? How often have I received the condescension of married people because I am not married? Single people are familiar with the notion of not having their needs represented in all conversations.

You would be wrong to suppose that I have spent 30 years tuning out these conversations, sermons, Bible studies on the married life. On the contrary, I listen eagerly. For married life is a heightened relationship that sheds light on all relationships — even my own poor reflected friendships. In listening I am better equipped to support my married friends, better equipped to pray for my married friends. Better equipped to love them as best as I am able.

I am not asking you leave off reading. (In fact, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that you read this at all. Let me take this moment to thank you again, with a look of undisguised shock on my face. Seriously, thank you!) I am not asking that you leave off correcting me when I’m wrong (I’ll try to take it as best as I can), but please respect that the men and women who take the most delight in this blog are the men and women who crave a voice that speaks for them and to them in their place of hurt.

This is one conversation, dear married friend, that could benefit much from your listening and compassionate ear.

With sincere love, and heartfelt gratitude that you actually read this whole damn thing, Katrina

Wealthy Singles?

I see a lot of myths out there about single people. One of the more offensive myths is that single people are wealthy, or at least more financially sound than their married peers.

I don’t know where this comes from. I’ve yet to meet a single person just rolling in cash going “Thank God I’m single, because if I was married I’d be dirt poor!”

It doesn’t actually work that way, you know? Unless you were working at a job before you got married that paid really well and then after marriage you started a new job that paid poorly.

Who is it exactly that thinks I spend all my wages on super expensive frivolous things? Who is it that thinks I’m buying liquor with gold flecks in it and any name brand anything?

You know what name brand I buy religiously? Tilamook. Because their cheese is the best. Other than that, I guess you could say I buy Target a lot. Or Walmart. Or Thrift Store. And by “a lot” I mean whenever I’m getting desperately low on essential items. Like last week when I realized I’ve never owned a vegetable peeler.

Here’s the real math on being married or being single. The hypothetical poor single couple starting out: you find an apartment. It’s a one bedroom with a tiny bathroom. All that you can afford because it’s just the two of you against the world. But it’ll work, you’re in love. You buy it and you share a car, because again, love.

Now, subtract one of those people and you have what most single people have which is double the cost for the exact same lifestyle and just one less person breathing your exact same air.

Sure, you could get a roommate if you want to be a daredevil. But that’s a lot like marrying the first person who promises not to buy a cat or eat all your ice cream when you’re not home. Best of luck.

And as a special bonus, no single people got a party when they moved out to be single somewhere else.

You only get gifts for relational “success”. Which is why it took me five years and my mother visiting to realize I never bought a vegetable peeler. Draw whatever conclusions about my diet you wish.

I still think being single is awesome, but I would appreciate it if people didn’t extrapolate from my relational situation any correlation to wealth. Because there is none. Of anything. Neither relationship nor wealth.

There are however four pairs of sweatpants, and I defend each of those purchases.

Bad with Babies

A few weeks ago I went to a baby birthday party. The kiddo turned 1 and it was time to celebrate (frankly, I always think this is more of a celebration for the euphoric and relieved parents that they have kept a child alive for a year).

When I got to the party I saw my friend holding the little man. So I walked over and turned to him and said “Happy birthday, buddy!”

To which my friend replied. “Do you think this is Layton?”

And I froze because I actually had at that moment when I said the words  thought “he looks a bit different” but then the next thought was, it’s a baby and it’s been a few months. They change a lot so…”

In fact, she was not holding her son but rather a friend’s five-month-old son.

Just a brief aside here. I know that every baby is a precious little snowflake and looks like its parents and no one else. And I am sorry. Particularly because the next thing I said, in like a stunned I’m so embarrassed I have no response kind of way was, “All babies look the same to me.” Because when you have just said happy birthday to a child you’ve never met before (probably?) there’s no graceful way to get out of the situation.

But I’m friends with this woman for a reason. So she didn’t burst into tears or accuse me of being awful. She laughed. And then she said “This guy’s five months old. He’s not one.” Which was her way of saying “I’m not even remotely sure how you could have confused these two infants.”

And again, in my defense, I’m really bad with estimating things. (A jar of jellybeans and how many are in it? 12. Because I don’t know. And honestly, I also don’t care.) If you tell me your kid is big for his age I will believe you even if he’s a peanut. Because I have no barometer for success on these things.

Then, this past week, a friend of mine asked me if I would “house sit and take care of Sadie for the weekend”. And my first thought was “I can’t believe you’d leave your daughter (who is like six months old (maybe?)) for the weekend! AND WITH ME?? ARE YOU INSANE??”

And then I remembered her daughter’s name is Madison.

Her dog’s name is Sadie.

So I’m writing this to inform you that I’m a really excellent friend like 50% of the time. But when it comes to your kid. I’m just sorry in advance.

I have this problem with my own family too, by the way. My sister asked me if my nephew wasn’t “the cutest kid in the world” and I paused. Because, honestly how would I know? I defer you to the earlier incident wherein I said “all babies look the same”. And, also, he’s not on a can of Gerber’s baby food. Which is the recognized mark of success, right? And then I said “sure”, because this is not something worth fighting over. But my sister knew I wasn’t convinced.

So now there’s a suspicion growing that I do not have the proper all consuming love for my nephew that I should. Which, again, I’m sorry.

I don’t have a really good defense here. I’m just really bad at babies.

I Matter

I sometimes think that the desire to get married, it’s not about getting laid, it’s not about financial security, it’s not about keeping up with your insufferable married neighbors with the matching shirts, and it’s not even about feeling loved. It’s about knowing you matter.

Despite the fact that there’s dozens of people you encounter in a day or a week, isolation is inevitable. Spending any significant time with your own thoughts will give you the distinct impression of separation and disconnect.

And what single person hasn’t had the thought “if I died in my apartment tonight, how long would it take someone to find my body?” (I max out at a week interval. If I died on a Sunday night, by Sunday mid-afternoon someone will have noticed.)

Most of the time I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about being single. I love it.

I love that when I’m eating in bed and I’ve spilled caramelized onions on the floor that I don’t notice for a week, there’s no one around me to go “ewwww” when I pick up the crusty corpse. But there are times, at the end of the day, or the week, or the month, whenever I’ve got time to think about it, I get a little sad.

Most of the time being ancillary to my friends is a plus. I get invited to spontaneous events, I don’t get invited to uncomfortable family events, I’m there to listen to conversations that don’t annoy me and I’ve got an easy out if they do (“have you told your husband/boyfriend/anyone else, please God, tell someone else”).

But when I get the phone call that cancels plans with a “sorry my husband and I are doing this instead, hope we catch up soon!” Or the “You’re flexible right? I’m just booked with family stuff this week” or even the “thanks for the offer, but this is kind of a family thing, you know?” There’s just a tiny part of me that puts a numerical value on my importance. Oh right, husband, family, work, me and fifteen other people you never see.

I’m cancellable. I’m expendable. If you’ve got a full week and one thing has got to go, it’s probably going to be me. (“She’ll understand, besides, I can make plans with her whenever.”)

Normally I truly don’t mind this. Because most of the time I’d rather be at home watching movies on the couch, anyway. But it’s the core concept isn’t it? When it comes to mattering — and this goes both ways — I don’t have someone that I rely on that relies on me to show up.

Of course, around my apartment I know I’m more highly valued. Those leftovers, for example, won’t eat themselves.

Although, there are other things that can eat them. Budding penicillin always tries to fight me for them. But at least at home I know where I rank.  I’ll either win, place, or grow my own culture from what I’m pretty sure might have been lasagna.

Shut Up and Have Fun (and an embroidery pattern, in case you need a reminder)

We women sure know the rules, don’t we? Getting engaged = getting parties and presents. Getting married = getting parties and presents. Getting pregnant = getting parties and presents.

Relational successes = getting parties and presents.

It’s a real obstacle for all the single ladies that just want to have a party, but can’t justify throwing one.

We’re ingrained to attend all baby showers and bachelorette nights, all housewarmings, engagement parties, and weddings (seriously, how many obligatory parties does one woman need?). It’s the root philosophy of “if you want people to attend yours you to have to go theirs,” and it’s nestled so deeply in our brains that we all show up for these events. But what if you’re one of the ones who isn’t going to have any parties or relational success milestones? What if you stay single forever, or worse, what if you eat off of your grandmother’s harvest-gold patterned CorelleWare plates forever, and using your beach towel from childhood?

Single women do this thing where we make arbitrary rules about our marriage-ability. I’m not immune from this myself. We pick an age where we think we’ll have lost all chances for romance, all chances for children, all chances for looking normal by the standards of everyone we meet. We pick an age to let our hopes die, basically. We pick an age where we no longer get to think “at my bachelorette I’d…” Because we believe there’s no longer going to be a good reason to throw a good party.

Some women even think the age when your hopes die is the age you’re finally allowed to throw yourself that awesome shower you never got to have before. Do all the things you want, and people will come! Who cares if they show up because they feel bad for you, or they’re trying to buck you up or defend you? You’ll have got your party.

But to a philosophy that postpones celebrating till you’re hopeless, a philosophy that says you can’t celebrate being single until it’s too late for you to be married, a philosophy that says you are second class, second tier, second best to married women I have this to say:

Shut up and have fun.

You’re not a dairy product. You won’t “go bad” after a certain age. I’m told, by good authorities, that in fact you’re only getting better. So why wait on that party? Find a reason to celebrate–whether it’s International Squirrel Day, TGIF, or a random day with a serendipitous sale on your favorite dinner item.

You are single now. And guess what? Single people can do what they want when they want to do it. If you want to go out in the middle of the night for chicken strips you can do that. If you want to take a spontaneous trip with some friends or by yourself, you can do that!

If you want to invent a new cocktail, “treat yourself” to something irresponsible, eat two desserts, throw yourself a damn party to celebrate YOU for the love of all that is good in this world, DO IT.

I know too many single women who feel hobbled by this concept that they’re trapped because they’re not married, who think that because they’re single, there’s nothing to celebrate.

My friends, it is the exact opposite. Go out to that new restaurant by yourself! Plan the trip of a lifetime with amazing people — or by yourself! Don’t plan to go to Bali when you’re married, GO NOW. Plan yourself a birthday party. Neaten up your apartment and invite a few folks over instead of feeling blue that you’re eating dinner alone over the kitchen sink again. Celebrate the things you love. Take yourself to dinner and a movie.

Stop telling yourself there are things you can’t do until you get married. I mean…sure there are things you really probably shouldn’t do until you’re married, but that’s an incredibly small list in reality.

Make forever connections with people. Build your family the way you want it. Create a home for these people. Buy usable towels, and maybe a teapot you love, if you can’t afford a full set of new tableware. Love your life and stop imposing false limitations on yourself. Don’t expect a husband to bring the wonderful to you. You can make your own life great.

And frankly, you should.

Please, for my own sanity, shut up and have fun.

Thomas Hardy’s Guide to Relationships

It’s a little known fact that I have a deep admiration for the actor Tom Hardy. But my love affair with the writer is even more profound and I’d like to share with you some of the Hardy-isms I’ve picked up from his works.

I have a book I record quotations in. Whenever I’m reading, if anything strikes me I can write it down to remember later. It’s what I imagine old people use instead of pinterest.

Here’s four of my favorite Thomas Hardy remarks.

On Committing

“But certainly, I was flurried in the inside o’ me. Well, thinks I, ’tis to be, and here goes! And do you say the same: say ‘Tis to be, and here goes!'” — Under the Greenwood Tree

Hardy’s voice of reason here is speaking in the context of wedded bliss, but I know many who feel similarly about any kind of commitment in any venture, romantic or otherwise.And what excellent advice this is indeed. It’s something I keep reminding myself of daily.

On the Qualities of Women

“The only superiority in women that is tolerable to the rival sex is, as a rule, that of the unconscious kind; but a superiority which recognizes itself may sometimes please by suggesting possibilities of capture to the subordinate man.” — Far from the Madding Crowd

I love a man who speaks well and jestingly of the male/female dynamic.

On Falling in True Love

“Theirs was that substantial affection which arises (if any arises at all) when the two who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher side of each other’s character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality.” — Far from the Madding Crowd

Is it so wrong if I love a good rational romance?

On Recovering from Unrequited Love

“You may be thankful to hear that the one-sidedness I used to remind you of is disappearing from the situation. But you will always remain among the most valued of my friends, as I hope always to remain one at least of the rank and file of yours.” — One Rare Fair Woman

This last quote is from a collection of letters he wrote to his dear and valued friend. It does her credit that she saved so many.

To all my lovely friends in whatever stage of romantic bliss or ennui you currently reside, I hope Thomas Hardy offers you the lift that he so often does for me.

#Blessed

This topic has been on my mind since the hashtag first appeared, ever so long ago. I wrote this piece for my church newspaper and it was received well, so I thought I’d try it out here. A bit different fare, but I do hope you enjoy.

“Blessed” is one of those great Christian words that has caught on with society. You’ll see it all over social media, and it pops up often in conversation.

“It’s a sunny day and I’m outside to enjoy it! #Blessed”

“No traffic today. #Blessed”

“Test results came back negative. #Blessed”

But it does cause you to wonder, in those moments of pain and suffering, when the day is not full of sunshine, when you’ve gotten bad news, when you’ve surpassed your last straw, are you still blessed?

A friend of mine has been in the midst of a horrific ordeal over the past month. It’s the kind of experience that can make you angry, bitter, disillusioned — mostly when it comes to your relationship with God and how you feel your life ought to go.

But my friend is one of those thoughtful types, and from the beginning he had what I would consider a motto. “There’s nothing good about this, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

He knew that he didn’t have to enjoy this trial. He didn’t have to be happy that it was happening, but he also knew that this experience had woken him up to a wealth of God’s love that he’d never before been able to witness. He understood he was blessed.

He knew it despite all the bad news, all the pain, all the suffering, all the confusion, and even through those dark moments when the fear and anger can be overwhelming. In those moments there doesn’t seem to be any blessings in sight.

That’s the real trick to blessings, I think. Blessings can be found in the moment, but more often than not we find blessings at the end of long, hard, scary roads.

Sometimes those roads seem never ending and we lose a bit of faith and hope. But it’s been my experience that often the harder I have to look for a blessing the more I treasure it.

We are children of a loving father. He is a God that loves to richly bless. It’s important that we never lose sight of his love for us and that we’re able to remember, despite the worst, “there may be nothing good about this, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

Let us look for God’s blessings, for they are found in all parts of life.