Saturday, January 24, 2009

God or my personal good luck charm?

I am a Catholic now but I was raised Lutheran. When I attended the classes for conversion known as RCIA, the presiding priest told me that Lutherans were "Catholic Lite" and that my transition would not be difficult. For the most part that has been true. I say this because I am going to start my post with "my Protestant friend" so I feel the rules of full disclosure would let you know that I once was a Protestant but not any kind of evangelical, talk in tongues, handle snakes kind - just Lutheran, "Catholic Lite". So my encounters with this Protestant friend have their own flavor - they truly do not resemble what I experienced growing up in the Lutheran church. Although to quell your imagination, I have to add that she doesn't handle snakes or talk in tongues either. 
My Protestant friend is always telling me that I am "blessed". I get a good parking spot, I come into a little money right as the big bill comes due, I find just the dress I need in the first store I go to...all blessed events. Whatever good fortune comes my way, she responds with "You are just so blessed." or "You are the most blessed person I know." And she means it in absolutely the kindest way but it really just feels wrong. But at the same time, it is rubbing off on me a bit. I suppose it was inevitable, we've been working together every day for over three years now. The things that I just see as happenstance - like happening upon the good parking spot as I come to work, used to be just that - coincidence, chance, serendipity. But now, I find myself saying, "Thank you, Lord!" for these little things. And, I am somewhat conflicted about it. If I were to take her view that all these little items were truly blessings from the Lord, it seems like I am being favored and I have done nothing to incur any special favors. And, if I was then to not get the good parking spot, which happens 90% of the time (or more!) am I then being punished?
"You are so blessed." My Lutheran mother has said something similar to me in the past. What she said was, "You seem to lead a charmed life." She was noting that often times, in my life, everything works out in the end. I don't want to take any credit away from God, but sometimes, it really has little to do with things actually working out in the end because I am blessed or not blessed, charmed or not charmed. Many times, things work out in the end for me because I choose to be happy with something different or with something less or, perhaps, even with nothing at all. It works out because I let it work out.
When I was heading off to the University of Georgia, I was excited about the prospect of sorortty rush. I had been up to the campus the previous Spring to a sorority dance at the Pi Beta Phi house, an invitation sent at the request of a dear friend's mother who was a Pi Beta Phi alumuna. I knew I would sail through rush and pledge "Pi Phi", I knew that I had had a wondeful time at the dance and felt like I fit right in. I assumed that the feeling was mutual. It wasn't. After the second round of parties, when I receievd my list of invitations to the third round parties, Pi Beta Phi was not on it. I had been "cut" and it was a shock, a devastating shock; I hid in my dorm room crying my eyes out. But then I looked at the list again and at the invitations that I had recieved. I dried my tears, reapplied my make up and headed out to the next round of parties. I ended up pledging with a great group of women to Alpha Gamma Delta fraternity. I spent four years there, making friends, living together in the sorority house, holding an office, - being happy. I chose to be happy even though what I had first thought I wanted didn't materialize. Amd I am grateful to the Lord when I am happy, I know that his hand is in there allowing me to experience joy in my day to day life. But I just don't know that His hand is in there to the extent that my Protestant friend believes. I don't believe that I found the perfect dress because I was blessed but rather, I found the perfect dress because my defintion of perfect was very broad.
So.. I'm not blessed any more or less than you are blessed, I just have lower standards. Thank you, Lord, for the blessings that you send out to all your people day in and day out. Let us take the moment to notice each one and be grateful. 

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