I ate Chinese food for lunch today, as I do almost every Tuesday after staff meeting, and got the most peculiar “fortune” in my cookie. It said, “Your blessing is no more than being safe and sound for the whole lifetime.” How bizarre! Still, as I rolled it over in my brain I began to realize that it was pretty true. I have been pretty much safe and sound for my whole lifetime!
Just by virtue of being an American, I have been very safe. Even counting the extreme nature of events on 9/11/2001, being born on the North American continent has given me a lot of protection. It’s a blessing I don’t always count when I’m adding things up, but one I should strive to remember regularly. I could just as easily have been born in Ireland or Palestine or Viet Nam and have known danger my whole lifetime.
I was also born wanted, to parents who understood how to love unconditionally. This is a true blessing and one that I do celebrate regularly. Many people I know had childhoods lived in the shadow of addiction, poverty, mental illness, or abuse. People who had scary or insecure childhoods never really felt safe and carry a deep need for security into many areas of their adult lives.
Some people have dealt with fragile health – their own or someone else’s – all of their days. I have had the good fortune to be “sound” from infancy. This is a fortunate circumstance that I really take for granted. Others have not been so lucky. On the other side of the health equation, you can often recognize a child who had a shaky beginning by the way his parents treat him – as if he might break. This can make the world very un-safe for children because not everyone is going to be as solicitous as their parents.
So – my blessing may be “no more” than being safe and sound for the whole lifetime but what a blessing!!! My blessing is also “NO LESS” than being safe and sound. I need to remember to celebrate this every day.
Isn’t it funny how most of us look at what we don’t have, instead of what we do? I can almost guarantee that in any group of children it would be easier to elicit a response to the question “What do you wish you had?” than if you asked them to name a blessing. Seeing the blessings that fill the world creates a sense of safety for our children. Seeing the world as lacking creates insecurity.
Given the chance, I would rather help my kids develop an awareness of their world as a place filled with blessings. It’s a lot like wearing a life jacket; it doesn’t change the danger of a given situation, but it helps us cope if the boat gets overturned. We can all use a little extra buoyancy for floating in these baptismal waters.