One of my favorite words to become popular in recent years is “humblebrag.” The term describes a brag masked in humility, or boasting in a manner that seems self-deprecating. “I’m so bad at remembering to dust my Oscar,” would be an example. We’ve all been guilty of humblebragging at one time or another, and most of the time it’s harmless, even if cringeworthy. A term I’m less a fan of is “#blessed.” (The use of “#” here is intentional; in the age of social media this symbol is called a hashtag, and putting a hashtag in front of a word or phrase indicates you are speaking on that topic.) “#blessed” often gets used next to a photo of a new car or a vacation spot or gift, or with news of a job promotion or engagement or college acceptance or great haircut. Better terms in these instances would be #grateful, #hardwork #privileged, #access or #luck. We’ve come to call ourselves blessed when we’re really humblebragging.
But what does it mean to be blessed? Jesus had some thoughts. In Matthew 5: Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Blessed are the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers. In Luke 6: Blessed are you if you’re hungry, if you weep, if people hate, exclude, revile and defame you. “Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve,” says Paul in Romans 14, speaking of how once our actions hurt others to benefit ourselves we have stopped walking in love.
In this season of Thanksgiving, take time to reflect on the times when you felt closest to God and so were blessed—it was likely in a time of need, not necessarily after a great vacation or haircut. And when we find ourselves counting our privilege and access as blessings, let’s double our efforts to ensure our lives don’t harm others. I am thankful and grateful for this organization of women in which I am safe to grow and change and in so doing change the world. Happy Thanksgiving.