This past weekend I was honored to be a part of my church's mission trip to West Virginia. Our team went to McDowell County, WV - one of the poorest in the nation - to help clean, weatherize, and sort clothes at a small Methodist church. While there, we also put on a mini "Crazy Love Family Day" for the community (a free event where we passed out free food & clothes, as well as did face painting, caricatures, and temporary tattoos.)
Beyond serving the church and community, our goal was to really get to know the folks of McDowell County. To spend time listening to their stories and to invest what little bit of time we had into their lives. To extend grace & love to the "least of these."
My assignment on the trip was to help clean the church, but in reality, I spent much of that time sharing conversation with some members of the church community that came to help our team. I listened to them share about their families, their health, their livelihood, their passions. My heart broke as I heard story after story of tragedy, heartache, and devastation. Life in McDowell County is anything but easy for these folks.
Yet, even through all the hardships that each person I spoke to faced, there was no hint of the "woe is me" attitude that would have been understandable. Instead, they said they were "blessed." Blessed is not the word I would have chosen had I been in their situation. The church has taught for so long that being blessed has something to do with material possessions, having a good job, the right set of circumstances. And, if I'm being honest, for the most part, I've bought into that lie. If I don't have enough money, or things aren't going right in my life, I wouldn't say I'm blessed. I'd question God and wonder "why?"
I posted a YouTube video on my Facebook page yesterday called "Blessings" by Laura Story. I have a love-hate relationship with the song because it irks me. It goes against what I've been taught. If you've never heard the song, take a few minutes and listen to it. Let it sink it. Really sink in. Meditate on these lyrics....
Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?
What if my greatest disappointments,
Or the aching of this life,
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy.
What if trials of this life,
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?
There's so much more I could share about the WV outreach. But this eye-opening moment was perhaps one of the most profound for me. It's something that has popped up again and again this past week, whether through Facebook statuses, blog posts, songs, or conversations with friends. My hope is that this profound realization will not be fleeting, but will become a life-changing moment.
What do you think it means to be blessed? Would you consider yourself blessed?