Grace Anne Alfiero
Providence Crosshairs, I’m Over Those Who Say They Feel “Blessed”
Updated: Apr 23
I have started and stopped this article several times. I think the main reason why I am hesitating to broach this subject is because I know there will be people who will strongly disagree with me. Conflict avoidance is often a motto for me, but, as a writer, silence is your enemy. So here it goes.
There is this notion of providence historical leaders often subscribed to, (ones who were born into their leadership roles, and ones who seemingly earned their status). One of the most famous leaders who penned letters leaving us ample evidence of his views on providence and its role in his life’s choices is George Washington. The invisible imputation of providence probably supported his determination against adversity, and it enabled his views to showcase humility in success. With victory secured, Washington wrote on June 11, 1783:
Glorious indeed has been our contest; glorious, if we consider the prize for which we have contended, and glorious in its Issue; but in the midst of our joys, I hope we shall not forget that, to divine providence is to be ascribed the glory and the praise.
Providence is believing the protective care of God or of nature is a spiritual power, that God or nature is providing protective or spiritual care to oneself or one’s efforts or mission and/or there is timely preparation for future eventualities.
In my own reckoning of this concept, providence and faith are weirdly interwoven, and perhaps that is where things get prickly for me. Providence seems to be the one-way ticket and justification for one’s actions that might or might not be controversial. And, as time moves on, as it did for Washington, and he continued to survive battles, harsh weather and seemingly insurmountable conditions, his ideology of providence became more and more solidified and justified. Washington believed that God handpicked him to lead, and that he was divinely protected, like say, with some sort of spiritual and invisible bubble wrap, every time doom was in his enemy’s musket crosshairs. (I’m not big on guns, so I am not even sure if a musket has crosshairs, but I think you get what I mean.)
In 1777, Washington stated, “I flatter myself that a superintending providence is ordering everything for the best, and that, in due time, all will end well.” In a letter to Landon Carter regarding American patriot’s prisoners in the North.
We know that President George W. Bush also believed in providence as it related to his role and two terms as president. At the 2003 national prayer breakfast, President Bush stated, ”Events aren’t moved by blind change and chance. Behind all of life and all of history, there’s a dedication and purpose, set by the hand of a just and faithful God.” David R. Gergen, an American political commentator and senior political analyst for CNN stated, ”Bush has made it clear he feels that providence intervened to change his life, and now he is somehow an instrument of providence.”
In secret conversations with several close friends, I have complained about a sort of providence-influenced state of being that has blossomed into many people’s everyday language and it really bothers me. Not only has it creeped into the ordinary vernacular displayed daily on social media sites, but it is also pervasively in the weeds of home improvement and home furnishing stores as well.
My dear friend Sarah agrees with me on this one, at least on some level, as she exclaimed the other day in accord “I just can’t see wrapping my home décor around my religious beliefs.” What she was talking about is this idea that when something great happens in your life, it is because you are “blessed.” At least once a day, I see a post that bellows “I am so blessed” because said post-er pulled off a successful family reunion, baked the perfect sourdough loaf or captured a sweet photo of their new grandbaby.
I want to scream, “Those things didn’t happen to you because God loves you more, or because you are a divinely better person, those things happened because that is just part of life.” To me, stating “I am blessed” is akin to saying “God loves me, and perhaps, if this wonderful thing did not also happen to you, God may love me more…sucks to be you!”
I realize that not everyone who is publishing “blessed” posts or purchasing “blessed-inspired” home décor is an adversary, but I guess what I wish people would consider is the idea that instead of celebrating a win as God’s divine consecration on one’s life, they would instead look at what takes us closer to a kinder, gentler optimistic way to be in the world, a joy to be shared, but not owned, as another individual, hallowing trophy. I am also saying that declaring one is “blessed” is also a way to separate one’s self from others. This ultimately serves as a dividing practice instead of what I feel we all desperately need, and that is more ways to display how we are similar.
What if our posts and our home décor provided an overabundance of unity and messages of harmony? What if we were reminded daily of how similar we are, instead of our differences?
I used these intelligent writings for my article:
The Invisible Hand in George Washington’s Leadership by Peter Lillback
George Washington and Providence by The American Plutarch