Summer time is crazy for us. I always think it will be a time to relax and not worry about what the kids finished in school today and how far behind we are in our curriculum, a time to snuggle on the couch and read, read, read, and a time to play outside until the lightning bugs come out. Then reality sets in – the reality of running a farm and a summer camp and raising three kids and trying to have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband more than once a week. It becomes a madhouse over here.
And in times like that, maybe it’s just me, but my eyes tend to zero in on all the things that go wrong. The stress mounts, things don’t go according to plan, and I forget to see all the good and right things – all the things that work, all the smiles on faces, all the freshly picked vegetables on my plate. I pick up my blessing blinders, pop them right on, and there they stay.
Unfortunately, the person who receives the worst end of this is my soul mate for life, the man God provided for me, the one I love best. I don’t think he knew what he was getting into three kids and eleven years ago. Just yesterday, we were celebrating my daughter’s birthday. I had finished a mission project with our summer campers, and my husband was being nothing but kind. But, with my pesky blinders, I only knew that I was exhausted, sweaty, and had a to-do list a mile long, and in turn, treated him pretty badly.
At some point, after a pointed conversation with my beloved, I was shaken out of my state of looking for the wrong in time to enjoy all that was right – the cousins in the swimming pool, conversations that knit family together over the miles that are usually between us, a husband that works hard and loves well, and being able to help campers experience what it means to serve others as God’s hands and feet. It was a great day full of blessings and I almost missed it because of the blessings blinders.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, warns us against these blinders, saying “finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (4:8, ESV) I have always thought that verse was calling me to ponder the good things of God – his truth, his love, his grace, the salvation that he offers us, being covered by his righteousness – and I think it still refers to all those things. As I read it today during my Bible study though, I realized that it means something else too.
Paul isn’t reminding us only to focus on God’s goodness in this passage, but also on the goodness around us – the blessings God has put in our lives. Paul was in prison when he wrote this, yet he says later in the chapter that he is content. He is content because he still sees good around him. He still sees God working and His blessings.
In my life, in my marriage, when I have on my blinders, it changes how I act toward people. I get critical, short-tempered, and ungrateful. If, as Paul reminds us, I can take my blinders off and instead see the good in my husband, in my littles, and in the busyness of summer – things like my babies’ grubby faced smiles, laughter from the cabins after lights out, ice water when it’s hot out in the garden – it would totally transform the way I behave toward them.
It would also transform me. I know that my husband, my littles, this farm life, and the summer camp are all blessings from God. When I have the blinders on, somehow I tend to see these blessings as burdensome instead. I forget that they are good gifts from God, and I act accordingly. I become bitter and selfish and see these things as hindrances. With blinders on, I am about as far from content as you can get.
But it’s time for a change.
It’s time to zero in on the blessings and throw out the blinders.