Of Silver Linings without the Clouds

I always cringe a little when I hear or read how some people express their thankfulness for their blessings in life. I’m just not sure where the line is between sharing a blessing you’re thankful for and bragging about it. We have this discussion in our house frequently. Having twins that both do well in school, if one gets a A and the other a B, it’s hardly possible for the one with the A to even be mildly excited about it without the one with the B thinking the other is bragging and rubbing her nose in it. Call me crazy (and you wouldn’t be the first) but every time I see a post about someone being so incredibly thankful for their husband, I think immediately of widows or abused wives. When I see a post about someone being thankful for their warm house I think of people who don’t have heat, or even a home. I know we need to be thankful, and everyone has SOMETHING to be thankful for, but where is that line between being genuinely grateful and just wanting people to know what a fabulous life you live?

I think for me it helps if the blessing is wrapped in adversity. I know that sounds strange, but for me listing off all the “silver linings” of life without telling us about the clouds is only telling half the story. It lacks perspective.

One of my favorite quotes is: “The barn burned down. Now I can see the moon.” I think it expresses perfectly what being truly thankful in all circumstances looks like. She’s not just thankful she can see the moon. She’s not whining about her barn burning down. She’s stating that despite the fact that the barn burned down, she has chosen to focus on the new found view of the moon.

I believe it is incredibly difficult for people to truly “mourn with those who mourn”.  We would much rather give advice and fix the situation.  Partly because we don’t like pain, but also because if we don’t come up with a reason bad things happen to other people… we have to admit they could happen to us as well.

When transitioning from professional, fairly well paying and respected jobs with a better than average home including a great yard and in-ground pool… to renting a small house (or apartment), living on food stamps, qualifying for free lunch and relying on help from friends and relatives to pay the rent… it’s HARD.  There is some mourning that happens.  But no one wants to hear about it.  The general response seems to be something only slightly more subtle than this:

Too bad.  So sad.  Get a job.  Move on.

Do I appreciate the help we’re receiving?  Absolutely.  Am I wrong to miss working 20 hours a week instead of 45? No.  No, I really don’t think so.  Should I dwell on it and complain?  No.  But to deny how much it truly sucks is not helpful either.

But here is the “rub”.  How much honest mourning is helpful and at what point does it become a negative drain?  Where does hurt filled honesty become whining and complaining?  How “fake” should we be willing to feel to have a positive attitude?  Is it really fake to choose to focus on the positive when you really don’t feel like it?  How much should we focus on the storm clouds – realizing they need to be studied and understood, and how much do we focus on finding the silver linings?  AND – Does there HAVE to be a sliver living to EVERY cloud?


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