I have re-written this post countless times in hopes that these words would find just the right balance of truth, grace, and hope. Because the thing is? The holidays can be really hard. They come every year. And those who are well acquainted with grief have come to learn that the holidays always bring with them waves of emotion. Complex emotion. Co-existing yet polarizing emotions. Still, the unwritten expectation remains: Smile. Just be glad for what you do have. Look around you... this is a time to be happy. If I am going to be honest, in the seven holiday seasons since losing Isaac, including last year's first round of holidays after very suddenly and horrifically losing my Dad, there have been years where managing both my grief and others' expectations has felt almost impossible to bear. And I have a feeling, I'm not the only one. So as Thanksgiving prepares to dawn, I wanted to share my heart on a couple of things.
Recently, some of you reading have experienced great loss. The loss of a job. A marriage. A friend. A parent. A child. You've wondered how you are going to even put a nice meal on the table tomorrow. You've wept by a graveside, longing for more time... or even any time at all.
Others of you have experienced unwanted gain. A diagnosis. One of a friend. A family member. Or even your own. You wonder if your will get to spend next Thanksgiving with that person you hold so dear... or whether you may be here yourself.
The holidays have a way of doing that. They magnify everything. Everything. They magnify joy, and excitement and expectation. And they magnify sorrow and hurt and grief.
Our pastor shared this past weekend about the difference between being thankful and giving thanks. Most often, we think of giving thanks as the visible expression of a thankful heart... the action that occurs as an out pouring of feeling thankful.
But what about when you're in the thick of it? In the thick of the hard, the hurtful, and the horrifying... that heart-wrenching thing that won't seem to loosen its grip?
1 Thes. 5:18 encourages us to "give thanks in all circumstances."
So, to those of you walking through the thick of it right now, whose heart may be heavy this holiday season... who wants so much to feel thankful, and holly and jolly... but perhaps you just don't. Give thanks. You may not feel thankful. And hear me when I say, that's ok. Or maybe you do... but it's thankful, and yet....
Thankful, and yet missing someone you love.
Thankful, and yet scared for what next Thanksgiving may look like.
Thankful, and yet sorrowful.
Give thanks. Find that thing. Even if it's just one... and utter words of thanks. It likely won't make everything better... or maybe anything at all. But those words of thanks? They are words of hope.
Because He who has promised is faithful. Always.
And to those of you who can't in the least relate to what I am saying... who are full of joy and expectation and excitement? Be gentle and extend grace to those who just may not be there and may not be felling that way. Those "thankful, and yets" can be so hard, and so often misunderstood. Have the eyes to see them... their hearts... and lovingly, without judgement, let them know that you care.
This Thanksgiving, and in the Christmas season to follow... let's be gentle with one another, uttering words of thanks as much as we can, and extending grace whenever possible. And even in the thick of it, give thanks in all circumstances.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Posted at 8:52 AM