unBeatitudes: Blessed are the Winners

This is the second post in a series dubbed "UnBeatitudes" - click here to read the first post of the series.

Blessed are the winners, for they will be celebrated. You're blessed if you haven't lost, if you now have what you always wanted, if your heart's desire has never been under threat - because you've never been forced to try to piece together a ramshackle after catastrophe. 

You're blessed if you've not suffered the emotional inconvenience of loss; you've been spared the emptiness in the gut, the sense of fear, the disempowerment. You're lucky if you've not been in the pit, where there is no way out, where there is no solution, where nothing can fix the stubborn hole that has taken over your world. Blessed are those who have not buried someone they loved, because they have avoided the powerlessness loss brings. They have sidestepped the vacuum created by his absence; they have avoided the nuisance preoccupation with her empty room causes. 

Blessed are you who've won because all your attention can remain on future successes. You're not stuck in the past like all those who blabber on about "trauma", "triggers", "baggage", or "injustice." No, clear-eyed, you step forward into the future, with no ghosts to haunt your path. You're lucky if you've never been in need of therapy, because "living in the past" inhibits conquest.

You're blessed if your investments continue to travel "up and to the right," because in your old age, you'll need no handouts from anyone, you'll need no assistance, or grace (oops). You're blessed if you're well-prepared, self-reliant, and in control, because losing is inevitable when we cease to be masters of our own destinies. Winners stand on top of the mountain and look down, sternly pointing "you're fired!" to the plebeians who were not as victorious in their quests, who didn't come through, who made mistakes, who deserve to be second, or last. 

Blessed are those who have it all, because they aren't stuck in doubt, second-guessing how their past decisions laid them under. They don't live in the land of blame, where endless hours are spent analyzing who's fault it is that the loss occurred. They aren't plagued with guilt for being responsible for the pain they now endure. For those who have not suffered loss, shame is hardly a triviality to disturb future success or present equilibrium. The idea that I myself am intrinsically bad, and therefore have earned or even deserve my suffering is foreign to those who stand in the winner's circle. Blessed are the victorious because they don't live in the subjunctive, questioning what could have, would have, should have, or might have happened, had they made better choices or lived in different circumstances.

Blessed are the successful, because the world to them is closer to binary than grayscale, easy to predict, categorize, and delineate. 

You're lucky if you've dodged fate, if family karma has passed you by, if old patterns from prior generations seemed to have skipped you. You're lucky if your inheritance contains only constructive family culture, access to a financial or social safety net, and better yet, capital for investing in your dreams. Because if these are the case, you haven't had to live with the indecency of suffering under the consequences earned by people you've never even met. You're lucky if the right doors have opened at just the right times for you - if angels have shown up to to smooth your path - if you live in low-anxiety because "everything just seems to work out" - because these things remind you just how special you are. Blessed are those who right now, are living their best life, who have no need to look forward to the life beyond because honestly, how could it get any better? Blessed are the televangelists who proclaim from their marble fortresses, "you don't have to tangle with loss in order to live a spiritual life - everyone can bypass it and go straight to success."

Blessed are the victorious, because you have the unique vantage point to see the errors in the ways of all those who have lost. You alone can judge their mediocrity. You alone know that they didn't earn the success they longed for. You alone know what it feels like to get what you want because you wanted it. Blessed are those who haven't lost because you've not been subject to consolation, to the indignity of raw sadness,  or to the care (or lack thereof) of community. 

Its the successful who happy, because they've protected what they have, defended what they earned, and fought off all those who might take advantage of their blessing. Instead, blessed are you if you have become the threat. Blessed are the intimidating, the powerful, the posturing, because you block loss from happening even before it becomes a possibility. Blessed are you if you are not afraid to shade the facts, because your power insulates you from accountability. Blessed are the corrupt, because they keep what they have. 

Blessed are those who have never mourned, because they have no needs.


"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." -Jesus (Matthew 5:4)

You're lucky if you mourn. Blessed are those who have lost something of significance, who once had it, whatever it was, but then watched it slip through their fingers. Blessed are you if you've been powerless in face of a force bigger than yourself, if you've been subject to the indecency of public shaming, or a victim experiencing the unrelenting exasperation of injustice. Consider yourself lucky. Because you will be comforted. 

You are blessed if you have tangled with loss, because you know the tension between the now and the not yet. You are blessed because you know how things ought to be. Unblinded by the perfection of a mourn-free life, your mind and heart and soul are drawn forward to what could be - to what should be - to what will be. You're blessed because in that state, you come perhaps closer to God than in any other circumstance.

In human suffering, our gap from the Divine thins. Those who mourn are blessed because they too have been forced to trudge a cross up the dusty street to the hill of death. On that path, they have chance to, and almost universally do, encounter Jesus. You're lucky if you've mourned, because you know the inexplicable comforting touch of the man of sorrows. 

Blessed are those who mourn because they are decidedly not self-sufficient. Their loss proves it. Everyone imagines being strong enough, wise enough, crafty enough, wily enough, creative enough, to sidestep evil, prevent loss, and fight off injustice before it crosses our paths. But when what we love is taken, we are proven insufficient. We swim in a vast ocean. I am never the biggest fish, even if I might convince myself otherwise while fluttering in my little pond. Systems are bigger than the sum of the individuals. We live in a wild and uncontrollable world.

Our tears are proof of our smallness. 

But it is in those moments of powerlessness that we receive the opportunity to see the world as it really is. To see the truth, instead of our man-made fictions. And the truth is that loss gives occasion for love to be experienced in ways absolutely unavailable without it. Blessed are those who mourn because the magnanimous gift of comfort is unnecessary, unintelligible without it. The greatest gifts humanity has to offer show up most illuminatingly in the dark, in the valleys, in the canyons of despair. No one in their right mind desires loss, but in the fabric of the created universe, even the unwanted and discarded things become gold. You're blessed if you mourn because you have need of comfort, and along with that comfort comes community, connection, intimacy, the experience of being known, the gift of love. 

You're lucky if you've mourned, especially at the hands of injustice, because you will be comforted with a sense of mission, of calling. You're blessed if you've mourned, because you uniquely know how it fuels action. You know that when you've mourned, you become the comforter, the protector, the defender. Blessed are those who mourn because they will become the comfort they once received. Defiance of evil is rocket-fuel for good. Losers are blessed because they have reservoirs of motivation that no amount of personal preference, curiosity, or discipline can duplicate. 

Blessed are those who mourn, because they have loved. One can only grieve for that which they care about. You are lucky if you mourn because you have already been blessed with the experience of love, of affection, of care and attention. You know what it feels like to treasure the other more than yourself. You are blessed if you have mourned, because you have tasted the truth that, "greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends." 

Blessed are those who mourn, because they live in hope of what will yet come. Even if in the present, they experience comforted, their pain sticks around. Comfort is incomplete. But it's a down payment. Those who grieve are lucky because they are pulled forward into the moment when the wrong is made right. Through comfort now, mourners taste future promise. No loss is ultimate. No suffering is forever. No pain is without redemption. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.