We’ve all been there. That moment where a little self-doubt, jealousy or comparison (I’m looking at you, Facebook and Instagram) creep into your head and before you know it, you’re counting all the ways that you feel short-changed and cheated by life and God.
It’s a tough moment when your mind travels there because you start feeling as if God was just a little stingy in handing out the blessings to you. Everyone else seems to be floating along just fine, but you…you feel more like a boulder clumsily rolling down a slight and very short hill.
My “cheated and short-changed” moment (or rather a few hours) happened this past weekend for me. I don’t know exactly when it struck, but it made itself especially known while I was at the grocery store late Saturday afternoon.
No room for complaint
My weekend was actually going great. I had spent the better part of Saturday writing for a couple of clients, getting my upcoming week and budget organized and was prepping for a family dinner on Sunday. Last week was equally great as it was a nice combination of work and play. Overall, the last couple of months had been very good for me personally and professionally.
I had ZERO reason to complain.
But there I was, standing in a LONG check out line at the grocery store, idly contemplating all the ways I felt cheated and short-changed. I may have been quietly reading the newspaper, but in the back of my mind, a list of all the reasons how and why God owed me was building to a fevered pitch.
Then it happened. I should have seen it coming, but I was too busy in my own little world, barreling down the railroad track of life in a steam engine headed to the town of “Discontented Ornery-ville” to notice the reality check ahead.
It was my turn to check out and as the cashier started scanning my groceries, we made small talk. I snapped out of my discontented diatribe against life and the Lord long enough to find out that this particular cashier was new to the job. To keep the conversation going, I asked what she’d done before.
She proceeded to tell me that she had worked part-time at Burger King for 15 years. Why she left that job, she didn’t say. However, it was her reason for getting the job that brought me up short: 16 years ago, her husband had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
After a year of caring for him full-time, she said she had to get out and do something else for a few hours a week. The first year of his illness was hard, she said. But they made it through. And there she was this weekend, scanning my groceries with a smile and sunny disposition.
Train to Discontented Ornery-ville: Derailed
Needless to say, the breath literally went out of my lungs as I stood there. In a small voice, I uttered some pitiful response like “Oh dear, I’m sorry” as she continued to scan my groceries. I suddenly felt so ashamed of the ways that I was scolding God for not blessing me like I thought I should be, when in reality God has been very good to me. My current hardships pale in light of hers.
I felt honored to be talking to this woman who had endured a particular kind of heartbreak I’ve never experienced (and hopefully never have to), but clearly had chosen to push through. If anyone had a right to feel short-changed, it was her. In that moment, she was my hero.
The Remedy: Count Your Blessings
After the reality check in the grocery line, my mind, almost without realizing or trying, turned to all the ways I’ve been blessed lately. With a few tears in my eyes, I walked out of the grocery flooded with thankfulness and joy at how the Lord has continually provided for me, even when I feel cheated and short-changed. In no particular order, here are just a few of the blessings I found when I counted them.
This last week was one filled with immense amounts of laughter. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve laughed that much in a long time. This is all due in part to my friends and family who never cease to be incredible sources of humor and joy.
My dad can make me gut-laugh like no one else with his unique observational humor and my friend Meg laughs in such a way that makes me laugh even more boisterously. Spending time with “my people” this week showed me that laughter truly is the best medicine when the stresses of life have you pinned to the ground.
Over the last year and a half, I’ve managed to lose and keep off nearly all the weight I gained in college. While I’ve changed my eating habits a bit, my appreciation for delicious food hasn’t diminished. In fact, it’s only grown stronger.
On Saturday night, I was making a pan of lasagna for my mom’s birthday dinner on Sunday. I was stirring the marinara sauce while it simmered on the stove and was suddenly flooded with intense feelings of happiness for a couple reasons: a) Italian food is the bomb. That sauce smelled and tasted divine, b) I was going to share it with people I loved deeply, and c) God is an incredible artist for creating the complexities of the ingredients I had carefully put in the pan.
I am Loved, I Belong, and I am Wanted
I don’t know about you, but inside of my independent exterior is a deep desire to belong to someone. While I’ve become more of an introvert over the last few years, I still need my relationships with my loved ones like it’s my life-blood. Although I already I know it, the events of this past week reminded me again and again that I am deeply loved, I belong, and I am wanted. These are beautiful and transformative gifts.
Although there are a few areas of my life where I feel like God is holding out on me sometimes, I am confident in this: the Lord is good and has promised, delivered and will deliver good and great things to me throughout my life. This is a blessing worth a million blessings.
Though I sometimes need a reality check to encourage me to do it, I’ve found that counting my blessings is often the perfect remedy for chasing away feelings of being cheated and short-changed. Try it out and let me know what blessings you find along the way. Happy blessing-counting!
*Photo credit: Emily Frazer