We had a lovely end-of-summer feast on Sunday evening: fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden combined with a bit of cucumber, a clove of garlic, a splash of balsamic vinegar; oh-so-sweet corn on the cob from the farm stand just around the corner; and T-bone steaks, a treat from the freezer, rubbed with a cocoa rub and grilled to perfection. Delicious, every bite fresh and flavorful and reminiscent of the good things in life.
I took a photo of my meal before sitting down to enjoy it, and Jonathan teased me. “Instagramming our perfect dinner?” he asked. I wasn’t – Instagram hasn’t grabbed me, really – but if I had, I could have included hashtags for all the trendy things. Local produce. Free-range beef. Home-grown food.
As we ate, and afterward, as we cleaned up and put a little girl to bed and went about the rest of our evening, I smiled at his comment. I thought about the food we get to eat, the life we get to live. I could post that picture, I thought, with the trendy hashtags, yes, but also with another one I’ve seen making the rounds. #Blessed, I could say.
But even as I had the thought, I knew it was wrong, knew I was mistaken. Not because I’m not blessed, for I am, beyond measure, but because of the way I was using the word. I was reminded of this post by Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, in which she reminds us what true blessing actually is:
Because blessed does not mean pleased. Blessed does not mean happy. Blessed does not mean fulfilled. It doesn’t even mean fed or clothed or housed or healthy…
What it really means is that you are not alone, for God is with you.
God’s blessing is His presence.
Nothing more. Nothing less. …Just the Creator of the Universe, the artist and architect of Heaven and Earth, the Bringer of Light, the Weaver of Life, the One who knows you and loves you best of all, finding you in life’s most broken places and breathing into your weary soul, “I am that I am, and I am with you.”
Contrary to popular belief, the Blessing of God is not what he gives us, the Blessing of God is that He is with us.
Yes, this. Though I fall into the trap of using the words blessing and blessed incorrectly, though I often apply them to the material gifts I’ve received, the blessing of God is that He is with us. That He is with us, even when we don’t understand how that can be, even when we cannot feel His presence. He is with us, in the beautiful and the ugly, in the joy and the sorrow. Somehow, somehow, I cling to this hope, this belief, though there have been moments – oh, have there been moments – when I’ve felt there was nothing but darkness around me. He is with me, and I am blessed.
Of course, I am grateful, ever so grateful for this husband of mine, for this toddler girl, for food and shelter and health, for the many beautiful, wonderful things I have been given. I do not take such things lightly, for I know there are far too many in the world who do not have even such basic pleasures.
If I were an Instagrammer, if I had posted that picture of our perfect meal, I hope I would have remembered that. Perhaps I’d have used #pleased or #Ilovemylife or #grateful. But not #blessed. Not #blessed, for blessing is an entirely separate, special, holy thing, the very presence of God Himself. And that could never be captured in a photograph of dinner, no matter how tasty that dinner might be.