I’ve been struggling trying to figure out the answer to this question for a while. I think its probably a basic question that most non-religious people grapple with religion and maybe I’m just dense right now, but I can’t seem to find an answer that satisfies. Particularly as it relates to having children.
What makes something a blessing? What is the difference between a blessing and a non-blessing? Are there such things as non-blessings?
Ok, so I guess that was three questions.
People acknowledge blessings all the time. You’ll even catch people who aren’t spiritual or religious at all talking about blessings! Maybe you’ve heard people say things like these:
Oh I met my husband by being in that place at that exact moment and it turns out he’s my soulmate, what a blessing!
The baby was born healthy despite showing abnormality in the ultrasound, what a blessing to us!
What a blessing we missed our flight connection because the plane crashed!
Are blessings circumstantial? Do we only consider things blessings if they’re what we want at the time? While a couple struggling to conceive would see the birth of their child or an adoption placement as a blessing, a single woman or a woman struggling to take care of many children already may see that unexpected new life as a burden.
Before I became Catholic I wondered if being a Christian was just about being happy all the time, choosing to think positively instead of negatively. Well, I can just be optimist without being Christian, thank you very much, I thought. When I finally became Catholic I had the realization that in a way, being Christian is like choosing to be an optimist because with the good news brought to us through the reality of Jesus and the Gospel message, that’s the only proper response! If you believe God has a plan and you’re here for a purpose, the need to worry about the future subsides. To not be optimistic and thankful for the little things in life is like choosing to reject a birthday present someone picked out just for you.
So here’s where it gets tricky. As a Christian, I am able to count my blessings in the little things everyday, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that there are some things that are intrinsic blessings. I realize that Catholics and Christians are different from everyone else: we choose to acknowledge all human life as miraculous and a blessing, no matter what circumstance. Since we are made in God’s image and likeness, life is an innate blessing. So is health. (I don’t see wealth as an intrinsic blessing, I might add, I just think its something that we happen to like because it makes us more comfortable).
Children are intrinsic blessings. The bible repeatedly tells us this. God tells Abraham that his offspring will outnumber the stars (Genesis 12) and blessed is the man with a quiver full of children (Psalm127: 3-5). There are countless more verses that I don’t have time to cite.
There is no denying that children are a blessing, so where does that leave people who don’t have children? Are they cursed?* Or are they just not blessed, not favored?
Really interested to hear what people think about this.
*In the interest of full disclosure, I actually had never thought of this before. After another month of not conceiving and in a rare emotional moment my husband mentioned this once and I didn’t have an answer for him.