Actually, it hasn’t felt like that at all this week.
I knew that this year of keeping (and blogging about) a weekly Blessings Jar would be a challenge to my habitual way of viewing the world but I did think God would ease me in gently, saving difficult times until at least the summer. Instead, 2017 has immediately thrown down a gauntlet of pain with the flourish of an old Hollywood villain and the words: ‘Go on, find the blessings in all that!’
So I have had to steel myself with all the courage/stubbornness/sheer bloody mindedness of my predecessors to meet that challenge. I have had to put myself on the alert, searching for that lost coin or lost sheep with all the dedication of the parable characters.
And, in moments, I have found it: music.
Ironically for a writer, there are times when words fail me, in that they fail to pin down difficult and anomalous emotions, feelings that can be too big or overwhelming for such small things as sentences.
But that’s where music steps in. Its combination of lyrics and melody can sometimes express either the complexity of often contradictory emotions or it spells out the way I want to react but can’t yet. Songs help me offload stress (whether a dry throated whisper or a determinedly belted out anthem) and they help me hold onto hope.
This week, these songs have spoken to and for me:
‘Blessings’ by Chance the Rapper (thank you to my son for introducing me to him) has helped strengthen my resolve with:
‘I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him ‘til I’m gone.
When the praises go up
The blessings come down.’
‘Never Too Much’ by Luther Vandross – a romantic song really but, for me, full of uplifting memories and reminders of the constancy of being loved by both my family and God:
‘There’s not a minute, hour, day or night that I don’t love you
You’re at the top of my list cos I’m always thinking of you.’
And ‘Praise You in This Storm’ by Casting Crowns expresses the frustration of unexplained unanswered prayer whilst clinging to the principles of God’s constancy and the discipline of praising Him through good times and bad:
‘And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I’ll praise you in this storm.’
So these three songs will go in my Blessing Jar this week and I will hold onto them like anchors in a storm.