Standing on the edge of a season that means beauty, love, and fullness to so many, I sit in tension knowing that for many others, this season is not quite so full of goodness. Loss, loneliness, hardship and heartaches that may not be immediately obvious to outsiders, eating alive the insides and the outsides of life, even if the outsides show all smiles.
It is hard to be grateful in challenging seasons of life. We really just want relief from what hurts, and not be asked to wear a mask of holiday spirit that leaves us feeling emptier than we already feel on the inside. Grateful words don’t come easy to the broken heart. So we just don’t say anything. We try to smile when someone brings their exuberance near, but only halfway because the honest truth is, we feel a lot more hurt than happy.
It has taken me many years to make peace with what I have grown to understand about gratitude. Thankfulness is not about words or feelings. Thankfulness is a position, a posture. A sitting still with eyes closed and palms open, letting our surrender speak silent thanks to God when our lips are not able move, for the breath in our lungs and the promise of new mercies every morning.
Thankfulness is lived by not giving up. It doesn’t mean that overwhelming joy is bubbling forth from the inside at every moment, although that may begin to happen the more we live gratitude in the midst of our circumstances.
If tears hang close for you, if you have longings unfulfilled, hopes dashed, troubled relationships, and feel the grit of humanity rubbing against tender places–if you feel vulnerable, weak, uncertain, or anxious–I ask you to open your palms face up and see if you can’t reach out. To God, in prayer, even if your prayer feels small. To me…I will pray for you if you don’t have words of your own. To someone near. Live your thanks by not giving up. By not closing in and living in your heartache all alone.
You are meant for relationship, made for connection, and this holiday season, I pray for love to come near to you and begin to heal the broken parts that feel beyond repair.