I was walking out of a local department store that had a double set of doors. An older woman, who been behind me in the checkout line, was following me out. We had exchanged pleasantries while in line – just things about the weather – light, typical stranger conversation. Just as I was opening the first set of doors I noticed her behind me. Of course, I held the door for her. And because they were a bit heavy, I jumped ahead of her to open the second set.
She said, “May you be very blessed, love.”
I smiled. I thanked her. And I noticed I felt all warm and fuzzy inside.
Repeating that line in my head as I walked to the car, I remembered another time someone had used the term blessed. A time that didn’t feel so very warm and fuzzy.
We were at my son’s classroom having a potluck holiday lunch. Parents and children sat around makeshift dining tables eating macaroni and cheese, broccoli salad and nibbling on cookies with sprinkles. Conversation was light and happy.
Until one parent turned to another parent and said, “We drove by your subdivision the other day. The damage is just shocking! Was your house spared? We were so worried about you!”
Weeks before, tornadoes ripped through our county. No deaths were reported but there was massive property damage.
The other parent began to relay her story. About homes torn down to the foundation. Cars lifted. Trees overturned. But her house? Not a scratch. In fact, the toys her children had left in the yard were in exactly the same place they had left them. As if the storm hadn’t even come so close to their home.
“We were very blessed,” she said with a satisfied smile. And the look on her face seemed to me of smug satisfaction.
My jaw dropped. My eyes widened. And then, I know, my expression revealed cynicism and a critical glare. (I have no poker face. A fatal character flaw.)
Quickly, I tried to recover. I didn’t say a word and then quietly excused myself to search for another cookie, another cup of tea, another conversation.
We were very blessed?
And what? The other families were cursed? What did they do to deserve such punishment? Why are you so special to remain unscathed?
How can one word fill me with the warm fuzzies one minute and disgust the next?
I suppose I’m more of a The-Lord-Works-In-Mysterious Ways kind of girl. I prefer to focus on the lessons learned and the kindness received in any tragic event. But to explain away why some are spared and some are not? Not in my job description. I’ll leave that to the big guy upstairs.
Or, to the smug and self-satisfied.