I ran into an old friend on my way out of the post office the other day. We quickly caught up on each other’s life and I was tempted to count how many times she said “I’m blessed.”
“We moved into a bigger house. We are so blessed! We finally upgraded to a new van. Just so blessed. My kids got into an exclusive summer camp and don’t you just love my new purse? I’m just so blessed! If God keeps blessing us, we hope to buy some land soon…”
I’m not opposed to blessings.
But I couldn’t help but notice how every time she said “blessing” it was attached to a thing.
I’ve said the same words before. But I’m talking about more than word choice and terminology.
Because after meeting the poorest of the poor on the other side of the world–and serving every Friday among the refugee women in my city– people without furnishings or cars or diapers or even enough food for the day, without “blessings” –I couldn’t help but wonder if they are blessed, too?
When we relate blessings to the stuff in our lives, our gratitude sounds hollow and shallow. Are we still blessed if our house burns down, our car breaks, our kids rebel, our health declines or we choose to give our money away?
Every good and perfect gift comes from God. Yes. And I know the heart is often thankfulness behind our statements, “I’m so blessed because I have ___.” But what if we lose these blessings? Can we still say I’m blessed?
This was the life-changing question that flipped my life upside down.
Because when I stood eye-to-eye with another mother in the slum who had nothing–nothing–and yet she praised God for being blessed with life and the jug of clean water in her hand, I knew she possessed something I didn’t.
It has been said that our unhappiness is evidenced in our excess of stuff.
We buy and buy and buy and then when we have too much, we drag the stuff to the driveway, stick a price tag on it and sell it so we can buy more. What in the world are we teaching our kids?
We are teaching them that stuff makes us happy and even more stuff makes life better. When we unite “blessings” with “things” we are teaching our kids that if we don’t have things we aren’t blessed. I’m certainly not opposed to buying stuff we need and even things we want. But the truth I’ve discovered is that real blessing comes when I buy something someone else needs instead of something I want.
That’s the blessed life I want to show my kids.
Because being blessed has absolutely nothing to do with stuff. It’s temporary. It can be gone tomorrow and it will be gone for eternity. We are blessed no matter what we have because God has given us grace, forgiveness, hope, a second chance and eternal life.
This is my story of how I went from suffocating from stuff to discovering the real “stuff” of God that we cannot buy.
4 Things We Can Do to Teach Our Kids the True Meaning of Blessings:
- Name your blessings as a family (but tell your kids they can’t name “stuff” or things money can buy).
- The next time you drive by a garage sale, use it as an opportunity to introduce this idea of our throwaway-so-we-can-have-more culture. Or take them to Goodwill.
- Gather extra stuff occupying closets and drawers and plan a garage sale and give the money away.
- Give gifts of time and service to family members instead of more stuff and encourage your kids to do the same.
We have stuff. But stuff shouldn’t have us.