A few days ago, I wrote a post about struggling with some challenges, and how I let them consume me so they became me. I touched upon how I was sidelining my blessings until I got some perspective, and then life regained some balance and became whole again.
The thought about blessings stuck in my mind, and how easily I dismissed them in times of trouble. The challenges are ongoing – like unwanted luggage tossed overboard, they bob up and down in the water and keep reemerging into view, until they are dealt with once and for all – and I have found myself falling into the same default behaviour of denying myself blessings. It’s a form of self-inflicted punishment: to starve myself of the joys and blessings in my life, whether I refuse to acknowledge the the ones I already have, or deny myself the opportunity to let in new ones if they come my way. My inner voice, scared and anxious, is saying I can’t enjoy them right now, I don’t deserve them, it’s a tough time and I just to have face my difficulties without escaping into my blessings; I don’t to dilute or ruin my blessings by mixing them up with my troubles.
Blessings are there regardless of whether we see them or not. The abundance and joy they bring to our lives are directly related to the choice we make about them: whether we choose to recognise them, and also whether we give thanks to God for them. In that sense, we choose our blessings, and we also choose not only whether we see them, but how we see them. I have been choosing to see my blessings like beautiful shoes, which I only wear when the weather is lovely; when it’s stormy and there’s heavy downpour – in times of trouble – I have told myself to not risk damaging my beautiful shoes by getting them soaked. So I take them off and keep them wrapped up in my cupboard for sunnier days.
I could choose instead to see my blessings like a large, bright umbrella. They are my shelter, my shade, and my protection in times of torrential downpour. All this time, I have been terrified that if I forget my troubles by losing myself in my joys, then I will forget to remember God and ask for His Help, and that would be ungrateful. I have neglected to see that when I give thanks to God for His blessings to me, let the joys He has given me touch me into gratitude and awe, then I am also remembering Him, and He will also remember me.
It is at this moment that I re-read this in the Qur’an:
‘Then do ye remember Me; I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and reject not faith. O ye who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere.’ (2:152-153)
What I noticed this time was that God asks us to be grateful before He asks us to ask Him for help. To me, that is an open invitation to recognise, acknowledge, celebrate and give thanks for my blessings in all times, the good and the troubled. A couple of verses later, God tells us that He will test us ‘with something of fear and hunger some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere’ (2:155) so He definitely knows that giving thanks can be juxtaposed with testing times. It’s just taken me a while to see that.
Heading out into the rain with my beautiful umbrella…:)