The idea of a day where we reflect on the things we’re thankful for sounds easy enough. If you’re reading this, you’re probably reading it on a computer, which means you probably have a lot to be thankful for.
i’m writing this on a computer and i know that i have a lot to be thankful for, but the truth is that i feel like i tend to do the opposite of what this holiday is meant to be. My thoughts gravitate to whatever’s missing, whatever’s lost or broken or painful. My heart worries and fears. There is plenty to be thankful for but those are not the scenes i stay stuck in.
i wish i was better at these days. The days where the whole family comes over and you hug and smile and catch up on what the year has been. i wish i was better at being present. i’m tempted to say that i wish i was better at being happy. That has been one of the great mysteries for me and perhaps you can relate. And it’s not that i don’t have plenty to be happy about. There is more than plenty. My life is absurd in terms of how privileged it is. i’ve been all over America this year. i’ve been to Australia and Europe, and i’ve lived in New York City. Insert whatever word you choose: Blessed. Fortunate. Lucky.
So what’s with all the pain? What’s with not being able to sleep at night? What and where the heck is “home?” Is it possible to be healthy? To be patient? Why do i feel things so deeply?
Perhaps you can relate to some of those questions.
So i guess i’m writing for two reasons.
1. We (this includes You) deserve the space to be human. To be real, to be honest. To be a mess, to cry, to laugh while crying, to do whatever you need to do… Now, my guess is the idea of going there in front of your awkward Aunt ________ probably doesn’t sound like much fun. So maybe you don’t. Maybe you do your best today. To be present. To think about the other people in the room. To ask questions and to try to care for the people around you and to let those people care for you.
But it goes back to the first part. You deserve the space to be human. Family chooses us but we get to choose our community. Our friends. Our support system. We were meant to be known, to be loved, to be in honest relationships where we can be carried and where we can help carry.
2. i wonder if it’s possible to get to a place of being thankful for your story, for the dreams that feel fractured, for things we loved but lost. i wonder if it’s possible to get to a place of believing that we are shaped by all of it, that we are stronger and wiser for what we’ve walked through. What if the things that ended – the things that broke and break your heart – what if it was the end of a chapter but the story keeps going? What if life comes back? What if love comes back? What if you would not be who you are and you would not know what you know if not for all those sleepless nights?
i’m starting to believe those things, that the best is yet to be, that life comes back, that the dreams that live inside me are there for a reason, that life is not just a tragedy, not just a story about losing. It is also a story of surprises and grace and hope coming back, of conversations and moments that feel like miracles.
i share this quote every night on stage but it’s taken on a new meaning lately. i’ve been reflecting on it off stage, sharing it with friends and believing it more than ever.
“i suppose that since most of our hurt happens in relationships, so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense to those looking in from the outside.” – The Shack by Paul Young
3. (i know, i said there would only be two but this feels important)
We have to fight to remember that “other people exist” (Don Miller quote), that we are surrounded by other people and that each of these other people is living a story and every single story has questions and pain of it’s own. If we only ever think about ourselves and our drama, we will miss the priceless privilege of stepping into the stories around us.
i think we have to fight to not get lost in our own pain. i think we have to fight to remember the good, the things we love around us, the things not lost, the things that we are thankful for. Don’t buy the lie that the story is just a tragedy. And don’t buy the lie that you are the only character in the story.
Today seems a good day to start : )
Peace to you.
PS: This was the soundtrack to the writing:
Overboard by Matthew
The Cure for Pain by Jon Foreman
Careful Hands by Sleeping at Last
Keep No Score by Sleeping at Last
You Are For Me by Kari Jobe
Walk On by U2
Desire by Ryan Adams
Silhouette by Satellite
Sing by My Chemical Romance
From Sleeping at Last’s “Keep No Score:”
“Is this a graveyard to bury her heart or is it a garden where new life can start?”