Blessings are always better than curses. But sometimes it’s all you can do not to focus the curses in your life. The pastor who married us spent a good amount of time the day before our wedding talking to us about our parents and what “gifts or blessings” they had given us throughout our lives. Those metaphoric gifts handed to us by our parents. His goal was to incorporate it into the ceremony as a surprise for them.
Eric, my husband, had no problem giving many examples of what his parents had given him. He rather gushed recollecting his childhood. The pastor had a plethora of ideas to choose from; sorting through which ones would have the greatest impact. Eric recounted how his father taught him responsibility and was always on the road during the week but came home and spent every weekend attending his sporting events, going on scout camp outings or having family and friends over creating an amazing sense of community. His mother, Eric recalled, was a person who was always serving. She loved Christ and instilled in him deeply felt beliefs. He went on and on about her gentle spirit, her ability to listen and how he felt she was always there for him, no matter what.
When it came time for me to share, I remember feeling this deep sense of love and respect for my mother. She had single handedly raised five children, ran a large company, endured much heart-ache and always kept her faith in God; even under very difficult circumstances. Then I began pondering my father’s impact on my life. What were the blessing he had given me? He handed me mountains of hurt when he left our family and divorced my mom in search of his own happiness. I realized I was pretty bitter, even though I had done a lot of work to try and heal from the wounds and the abandonment. But with the pastor’s assistance, I found a way to drill down a bit deeper. I was able to unearth what my dad had done for me, how he had blessed my life.
When we were young and through my early teen years, my dad would take us into the mountains for amazing vacations on horseback. I thought of how few kids ever got to ride horses, and even fewer are given the opportunity to ride high up into the mountains and set up camp for three weeks at a time. The memory of each trip is filled with the beauty of creation, the awe of a day filled with watching clouds and catching butterflies, taking dips into ice cold streams, the adventure and exhilaration of crossing over glacial formations tenuously on horseback and so much more. My dad blessed me with adventure; it was that same spirit that took him away from us, but it is the positive side aspects that I found I needed to hold onto.
Years later, when I was 18 he gave me something even more profound when I was diagnosed with a fatal illness. I had to stay with him for several months for medical testing because of his proximity to health care facilities I went through a difficult time of depression, grieving a “normal” life. Not knowing if I would live to see my 21st birthday, much less go to college or get married. In the depths of my despair, he had a hard” father/daughter” talk with me, and reminded me that if I stay focused on what I may not have, I will not have anything. He encouraged me to focus on all my blessings and to reach out and help someone else. This is how to live life fully. It still seems strange that he was the one to give me this lesson, due to the fact I had never really seen him as a self-sacrificing person, but none-the-less, he blessed me with that truth which still resonates with me today and quite possibly shifted my whole being in order to survive that terminal illness.
So as I pondered this task of realizing how my parents had blessed me I found they truly formed me into who I had become. I realized what I wanted to thank them for. I was able to turn my mind to the blessings they had given me, rather than solely focus on the curse of divorce. My father had bequeathed to me adventure as well as, ultimately and surprisingly, the will to live. My mother, a model of self-sacrifice and deeper love than I could imagine, showed me a picture of what I wanted to be like someday.
It is easy to allow the negative to overshadow the positive, to focus on the curses rather than the blessings. It is all a matter of perspective. However, life is born out of blessings much more than curses.