Archive for May 29th, 2007

Unclaimed Blessings

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Today’s scripture: 1 Kings 1 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts (Theresa Benson):

Sometimes I really need to be reminded not to be so hard on myself and remember just how far I’ve come. I had a conversation with my neighbor, Lynn, recently that made that really clear.

I’m off work again for my second surgery, and my neighbors have been incredible about helping me with Abby the Wonder Poodle while I’m unable to get around. Lynn comes over in the morning to take her for a walk.

Usually, we’ll get in a conversation about current events, or about how my foot’s doing, or how remarkable all my friends have been in helping out around my house. But occasionally, as this morning, we’ll go deep, and I was relating to Lynn how I’d gotten in to Duke, Purdue, and Northwestern, and passed the first round of application stuff at MIT, before my Mom announced, “Theresa, you can go anywhere you want as long as it’s Iowa State University.”

Now, I’ve told that story a zillion times, every time someone asks me why I decided to get my electrical engineering degree, and I’m so hardened to it by now that I don’t realize just how sad the story can sound. But this morning, it struck a nerve in Lynn and she started tearing up and telling me just how unfair a decision that was, and that if I was her daughter, she’d have a “Wheel of Fortune” party where my friends, family and I could spin the wheel to see what school I might end up at. What a blessing, she thought, and how terrible I wasn’t able to receive it.

And with that conversation, I got the “permission” I needed to get angry about it for myself, get frustrated about feeling stuck, and felt compassion for the scared high school senior who was so afraid of her Mom that she didn’t stand up for her future.

I am absolutely WOWED by Bath-sheba’s willingness to stand up for her son Solomon with King David. Can you imagine? All those preparations had been made, the King was ill and dying, she and her son had been slighted for the coronation. If the Theresa who made the decision to go to Iowa State were her, she probably would have turned inward, and thought perhaps King David had changed his mind, perhaps he no longer felt her son Solomon “enough” to ascend the throne, or perhaps she’d done something wrong, and without warning, Adonijah was being crowned king instead.

And she would have lived under Adonijah’s rule, feeling trapped, frustrated, sad, out of place, all because she didn’t speak up for herself and her son.

I had my “Nathans” in high school — teachers who thought highly of me and encouraged me to go to the school of my dreams and study whatever I felt I’d succeed in. But instead of listening to their wise counsel, and going to my Mom and saying, “Haven’t you taught me all my life to be myself, who I am, and do what’s best for me? Shouldn’t I go to one of these other schools instead of Iowa State, since I have the aptitude, scholarships, and opportunity?” I shied away, and while I have had a good life (as I’m sure Bath-sheba and Solomon may have had), for so long I’ve felt empty inside mourning the missed opportunities and questioning if I’m fulfilling my purpose.

Thought for the day: It’s my hope, today, that we might all speak up for ourselves. And for parents, to speak up for your children — that we might all surely know that we’re walking the path God has planned for us, and truly receiving the blessings God gives us.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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