Being Grateful Instead of Blessed

I deleted the Facebook app from my phone several days ago and realized that, without it, I don’t check Facebook as that was the only device on which I accessed the social media network.

I am disengaging for a variety of reasons. It had become a huge time suck, something that became glaringly obvious as I used the screen time app on my phone. I rarely shared much and it seemed my timeline had somewhat stalled as well. Honestly, even my most interesting friends lead pretty dull day to day lives. I love them all but just didn’t need to have daily updates about their dog training and dinner preparations.

And, then there is the sometimes ugly divisiveness. I have friends across the political spectrum. One very liberal friend called Jesus a moron. Really? And another, a religious conservative,  commented during Obama’s last campaign that he would prefer a Mormon over a Muslim sympathizer.  Again, really? If these two represent the widely separated world view of a majority of people, we are in real trouble.

But, beyond that, it was the simplest of posts that pushed me away: I found myself constantly bothered by the pictures of families gathered for holidays and beach vacations. Wonderful snapshots of families living the good life. But, to a one, they almost all commented that they were blessed. Blessed. That word stopped me every time: it carries the connotation of being consecrated, favored by the divine. It had really begun to bother me and was a contributor to my departure. I know it seems silly on the surface, but I wondered how or even if these people considered the implications of their words: if you are blessed, does that mean others, who may be suffering problems, are not? Even if they are as devout as you? Has the divine turned away from them, no longer favoring them? Seems like iffy theology to me.

Today, I think I found an at least something of an answer to my conundrum in Hila Ratzabi’s blog post The Trouble with Gratitude: these people should not consider themselves blessed. Instead, they have been lucky in this dice roll called life. Their hash tag should be #grateful not #blessed. After an encounter with a stranger struggling down the street, Ratzabi muses on the idea of “bad” gratitude, that is, gratitude that you are better off than the next person rather than just being grateful for this moment in this life.

I will carry her conclusion with me:

So, thank you, universe, for a random encounter that allowed me to step outside my own story into that of another. Thank you for the chance to contemplate the miracle of the body and how quickly it changes. Here I am. And there is that man. Moving through this glorious earth in our very different, beautiful bodies. Both changing, both knowing it will all come to an end. What luck that we are here, even just for a moment. Breathing, walking, passing each other by.

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