Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blessed versus Unblessed

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know I stay away from controversy. I don't like stirring the pot, rocking the boat, or anything else resulting in an overuse of too many cliches. But in light of what happened in Toronto and Colorado last week, I have to say something about a painfully overused phrase.

Several survivors were interviewed after both shootings and it was heart-wrenching to hear their stories. No one understands what they were subjected to unless they were there; I know that. My heart goes out to these people; but I am disturbed by the comments expressed several times during the interviews, then repeated over and over again on the news. In fact, these are the same cliches I've heard all my life in the aftermath of a horrendous tragedies.


"God saved us."
"God kept me safe."
"My guardian angel was looking out for me."
"I'm alive because God blessed me."


The opposite of blessed is unblessed. In the dictionary it says: not made holy; not consecrated.

I don't believe for one moment that these people realize what they're saying. I've heard these statements for too many years to think otherwise. I know they don't believe the victims deserved to die.

As a writer, I need to take special care when choosing words. As a person, I'm curious as to why no one has ever publicly denounced the use of these cliche statements. Every time I hear someone say I'm alive because God Blessed me, it feels as if the words are spears stabbing me in the heart, telling me that my children died because they weren't blessed, nor did they have guardian angels looking out for them. They're dead because God didn't care to save them.

I don't believe that. But for an instant when I hear these words, the thought does cross my mind that God only saves the blessed.

If you and my child are involved in an accident and you live and he doesn't, I don't believe you're blessed and he's not. Who's to say how blessed death is. I don't know. All I'm certain of is it wasn't your time.

25 comments :

  1. You make an interesting point, Joylene. Like you said, I don't think people are really thinking about what they're not saying. It really does make you think. Thinking of and praying for those involved. Thanks for sharing your heart.

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    1. Thanks for listening, Karen. I'm trying to figure these things as I blog. But I'm still not sure.

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  2. Very true and another reason why we need to be so careful with words. Hubby and I couldn't have children (both our children are adopted) and while undergoing all the infertility treatments people would tell us "The Lord answers the prayers of the righteous" or other comments along that line. I know they meant to be encouraging and comforting. Instead it made me wonder how horrible a sinner I was since the Lord hadn't answered our prayers. Did He love the drunks and druggies living on the street that got pregnant more than he loved us?

    The Lord gave us agency, he also gave us our bodies. Bodies are imperfect and while we have the right to make choices we get the consequences of our actions too. I do believe the Lord is all powerful, but we were sent here to live our lives and sometimes he has to let us do that, just as we have to let our children go out into the world and figure things out for themselves. What I do know is God loves EVERYONE, and being the victim of an accident or a horrible situation like you spoke of does not mean the Lord doesn't love you or that you are unblessed.

    Please forgive me if anything I said didn't come across the way I meant or in any way confused or hurt someone.

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    1. I was also going to mention that just as we can't always stop the hard things in life that happen to our kids the Lord can't always stop the bad things in our life. But he is always there to comfort us when we need.

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    2. Thanks for sharing, Sara. Rest assured, your words are comforting.

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  3. I suppose people mean to be supportive and kind with such trite comments, but they're often said when a person isn't sure what else to say, and without a lot of thought as to the theology or significance. Maybe that's one of those situations where it would be better to say nothing than say the wrong thing.

    My belief is that God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient, i.e., all-powerful, existing everywhere and knowing everything. So he *could* stop bad things from happening, except that he made us with free will and as a result, the innocent are sometimes affected by the actions of those who don't choose wisely. I'm sure God's heart must ache at the sadness of hurting people. Our finite minds can't possibly understand the workings of his infinite one. Maybe in eternity there will be answers???

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    1. Thanks, Carol. I know what you're saying is true. It came to a head for me on the weekend. I had to vent. Thanks for listening.

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  4. Well said, Joylene. You are right on. I believe God is crying right along with us, but never leaving us. I don't think people realize how their comments can be interpreted. I appreciated all the thoughtful comments expressed here.

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    1. Thanks, Janet. I know people don't realize what they're saying. I'm sure of that.

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  5. I hear you, Joylene. I've winced at people saying those words too--like it's pouring salt into the wounds of those who lost loved ones, even though I know that's not what they're intending. So we must forgive their words. The truth is that God does have the power to protect us, and I know He has protected me so many times in my life b/c it wasn't my time to go yet. He is the only one who is bigger and more powerful than anyone of anything else in life. We don't know why sometimes He intervenes to help save a life and sometimes He brings His children back home, only that we should turn our thoughts toward heaven each new day, call on God, and place our cares in His capable hands. That's how we can battle back, recover joy, and hit the ground running, knowing that no matter what, God is in control~hugs

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    1. Hit the ground running... Jamie, thanks for that.

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  6. Right on, Joylene. Too often we do not think about what our words imply. To suggest, even tacitly, that God wanted some people in any tragedy to die, is absurd.
    I find the accompanying "we need xxx in order to have closure" statements just as absurd. When a loved one dies, closure never comes. You work to find a new path that does not depend on their being there with you. When you follow that path, you build a life, but calling that "closure" categorizes the loss in an insultingly trivial way.

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  7. Hi, Joylene--

    I didn't look at their words that way, but I can see how someone who DID lose someone would. I wonder if these people simply don't think of that other part of the equation, about what their words are implying happened to the victims who did perish. Thank you for posting this. It's always good for us to evaluate what we're saying and how the meaning could be interpreted by those in the deepest amounts of pain. ((Hugs)) to you. Honestly, I think it boils down to luck, not blessings.

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    1. Thanks for listening, Adriana. I appreciate yours and everyone's support.

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  8. It also concerns me when people believe the blessed live and unblessed don't, as if the unblessed weren't worthy to be saved. Although I'm sure many of these things are said in the heat of the moment and during emotional times for the people involved.

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    1. I know you're right, Medeia. People don't hear what they're implying. Too bad.

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  9. An excellent observation. I think they're expressing relief and thankfulness, but it comes out awkward. And I think it points toward a belief in predestination. I don't believe in that.

    I believe there are crazy and/or evil people who will do horrid things. God allows them to exist and have free will (just as we all do) because if He didn't give us free will, we'd all be robots. However, there will be consequences to people who do evil, whether the police catch them or not.

    And there is illness and natural disasters because it's a fallen world, not because God wishes bad things on some and not others.

    But the richest blessing, in my opinion, isn't escaping bad guys or illness, it's reaching Heaven.

    All of the above simply expresses my beliefs. I don't mean to preach, nor do I want to imply the shooter in this case was evil. I don't know if he's insane and therefore not completely in control of his own actions. That's for God to determine.

    It's just that your post got me thinking deeply! :)

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    1. Thanks so much for your wise words, Amanda. I especially like the image of obtaining richest blessing. Thanks!

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  10. People want to believe that God has a hand in all things, good or bad. If something bad happens, they say, how could God let this happen? And if someone is spared while others were not, they say, I am so blessed. Truth is, God has nothing to do with any of it. He gives man free choice and we decide what we are or are not going to do. No one is blessed because they didn't die while someone else did. It just means the shooter turned his gun a different direction and she had the luck of the draw, so to speak.

    Just don't me started on guardian angels because mine is superior and has saved my life 6 times. Then again, why did he let me get into those predicaments in the first place? A geez...

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    1. LOL Thanks, Nancy. I just had an image of your guardian angel shaking his head and wincing. LOL

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  11. Hi Joylene,
    You've handled a highly sensitive and emotive subject with tact and thoughtfulness. I'm in agreement with what you note. Horrendous situations and many would allude to another cliché, "There but for the grace of god, go I". I do not believe that divine intervention dictates who lives and who dies in such awful incidents. It's just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    Well said, Joylene.
    Gary

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  12. I agree. This is only the tip of the iceberg for similar things that made me feel like unblessed crap in the past, irritated me too many times, and still irritates me if I let it. So I try not to let it.

    I agree that the folks who say these type things aren't thinking about what they're say, only repeating what they're taught or what they've heard, probably with good intentions. But that's still a problem they should address. They're not thinking. People should think. At least every now and then, people should think.

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