At this stage and season of my life, the one thing I simply have no patience for is denial.
Especially when it comes couched in the lofty language of religion. I am looking for real people; I’m attracted to the real thing. You want to be radical? You want to be spiritual? Fine.
But before, during, and after all that, please just be real.
For this reason, I basically loathe the popular hashtaggable phrase “too blessed to be stressed” because it is laced with religious denial. And yet, I believe – strongly believe – in living from a place of blessing, and seeing the world through the lens of blessing. One of the quotes I hope you take with you from this site is, after all:
It’s a blessed life we live, and now is the time to live it.
So what does it look like to live from that place of blessing, all while acknowledging that, yes, I am also stressed? What does it look like to hold both of these things in tension, being abundantly, gloriously blessed and also, at least some of the time, really really stressed?
Well, I think that looks like the real.
To not deny our pain, stress, struggle, suffering, sickness, etc. is essential to embracing life and the world as it is and not pretending our way through, faking it to make it. But even in the midst of these things – in good times and bad – we are invited by God to see his blessing in our lives, and live from that place. Little things, big things, insignificant things, massive things, friends, family, air in our lungs, a roof over our heads, a kind word, a raise at work, a new home, hot water to shower in, summer sun, trees and streams, a jacket in winter, kids to wrestle and snuggle, gifts and skills to contribute, another day on the planet – ALL is gift and blessing and reason enough for gratitude.
And we don’t have to deny the hard stuff to live from that place of blessing.
I agree wholeheartedly with this exhortation from Jonathan Martin:
There was a phase in charismatic culture when everybody was talking about “the word of faith” movement. There was a lot of talk of “speaking things into existence.” We used to talk about this derisively, as “name it and claim it, blab it and grab it.” And in its worst forms, that was not an inelegant or unfair expression for it. There actually were people teaching folks to speak their Mercedes into existence, and telling people not to ever admit out loud if they were sick, because that would be a “negative confession”…
There is something still about all of this that strikes me as trivial, like some kind of infantile (and unreliable) kind of magical way of understanding the Christian life. And yet in more recent years, even for the abuses I’ve seen, I’ve come full circle to realize just how much life, hope and power is divinely mediated through human speech. Even now, that feels odd to feel myself type. I don’t speak new cars or jobs into existence, and I’m not going to say I’m well when I’m sick. But I do believe there is something creative, something generative, that occurs when we speak God’s hope into the world.
See that? There is a ditch opposite to denial, and it is this perpetual pessimism, this hardened negativity, this habitual cynicism where blessing seems to be nonexistent and everything is problematic.
And that, my friends, is no way to live.
Like Jonathan, I’ve also come full circle in rejecting the idea that the darkness is somehow winning and realizing that my thinking and my speaking have the power to create my (and my family’s) world. And so, without denying any of the pain or struggle, and refusing to live in religious denial, I yet commit to live from a place of blessing and to believe that through this commitment blessing will continually come, yea, and even increase!
There is indeed “something creative, something generative” in living, speaking, and even writing from a place of blessing and hope.
But I still have no patience for religious denial.
And I’m too blessed to not acknowledge that, yes, I am often also stressed.
It’s just that blessing is the place I choose to live from, even as I navigate a life of the real.