BlogHer of the Week: Conversion Diary
There's a nutty truth to human nature -- mine anyway. Here it is: Even when I have a roof over my head, healthy loved ones, plenty to eat, my father isn't trying to sell me and I don't live in a war zone...
Sometimes? I whine.
In Escape from "If Only!" Island, Blogger Jennifer F goes owns that human weakness, even going so far as to subtitle her post, "On My Staggering Inability to be Grateful". She writes:
"There are always just a couple of things that supposedly stand between me and perfect contentment: first it was "If only we weren't having financial problems!"; then it was "If only I weren't in so much pain from the DVT!"; then it was "If only I didn't have morning sickness!"; and so on and so on. These days it's lack of sleep from having a newborn and the chaos of having four kids under five. If only I had a staff of maids and cooks I'd be at peace, filled with the profound sense of gratitude that a healthy person surrounded by all the conveniences of modern America should have. I mean, it sounds plausible, right?"
"The problem is that it's not true. Thirty-two years of data indicate that I would just find something else to feel sorry for myself about."
Jennifer's honesty is disarming. Oh, girlfriend, welcome to my selfishness, I thought. Here I stand on my own two feet, a job even in this awful economy, a mother who survived breast cancer last summer and I can STILL get my knickers in a twist about the realities of daily life like a dirty house or piles of laundry. I daily ask myself WHY, why so tense, so ungrateful when I am so blessed and I know it? After all, I'm not exactly hunched over a washboard or a stream, pounding my only dress clean, hmmm?
Fortunately this blogger is exactly the right person to read when posing embarrassing and introspective questions. Jennifer doesn't flinch when she examines her own behavior. And sometimes she changes. This is a woman who, five years ago, was a content atheist and "vocally anti-Christian." Then she kept pondering the issue, and challenging her own assumptions. The result? Today Jennifer's a Catholic mother of four who blogged her conversion story in two parts that are smart and open.
So when Jennifer tackles her "If Only!" problem, she criticizes her own thinking. She reads books. She makes lists. She confesses what doesn't work:
"Once I introduce that scale of "How Comfortable is Jen Today?", it's tempting to go either way on it. It can be an opportunity to appreciate the fact that, for example, I am blessed to have a dishwasher to clean my dishes, unlike so many other people in the world; but, while we're asking the question, I can't help but note that it would be REALLY, REALLY nice if my three toddlers were not ALL throwing simultaneous temper tantrums this morning and that THERE ARE ALSO A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO ARE MORE BLESSED THAN I AM IN THE 'NOT LISTENING TO CONSTANT SCREAMING' DEPARTMENT TODAY. Ahem."
From this point you may be wondering whether her post evolves as a funny mommy-survives-toddlers moment. No way. Indeed, while her children have enormous influence on her inner dialogue, this blog is about Jennifer's inner journey -- her attempt to find balance and peace with herself while dealing with external forces far beyond her control. And she doesn't take the easy and humorous way out, despite a gentle application of wit.
Instead, two years after she started wondering why she was "ungrateful," Jennifer F prays. And finds her way:
"The Holy Spirit has basically hit me over the head with a cluebat to tell me that my gratitude list should contain a lot fewer items having to do with worldly comforts and a lot more items having to do with experiencing God's love, even when it's not pleasurable or fun. This is not to say that I've implemented this perfectly (and I assure you that as soon as I publish this post God is going to give me major opportunities to put this into practice*). But the halting efforts I have made in this area have allowed me to start saying "If only!" a lot less and "Thank you!" a lot more."
That cluebat, Jennifer, is one I needed and Elisa appreciated. That is why you are BlogHer of the week!
Thanks to everyone for continuing to send in your nominated posts.
Remember to nominate individual posts, not entire blogs, and keep them
coming! If you want to check out all the BlogHer of the Week posts, check out the BlogHer of the Week archive.
For Elisa, Lisa and Jory (who is on a much-deserved vacation)