Thanksgiving When Giving Thanks is Hard to Do

NOVEMBER 23, 2017  /  KATE KELTY  / 

Thanksgiving When Giving Thanks is Hard to Do

It's getting dark earlier these days, darker and colder and the climate of my heart is just the same. November begins with the grief over the loss of a very dear friend's twin boys. This was their seventh birthday. The ache, the pain, the grief, It's insurmountable. And since I write about grief and recently published my own story of grief, my inbox has been flooded over the past month with sad stories. Words that stab- infertility, multiple losses, cancer and imminent death. There is a darkness that has infiltrated my heart and mind this fall as I am grieving with a multitude. Yes, it is dark and cold out there...and in here.

A few evenings ago, night came on so fast and unexpected, a robber to my day, and my good feelings quickly descended with the sun. I felt myself falling quickly into an old, poisonous pattern. It's a mood and a habit I wear like that hideous, suffocating sweater from ten years ago that really should be thrown away. It's self- pity. It's inward thinking. It's grief. It's refusing to see, or rather, only seeing the dark.

For a few days I let it drag me around, I let it smother me, that thick wool pattern, fear and sadness, jealousy and longing. And then something happened. I woke up to the morning light. The sun came right through my window, reached deep into my heart and offered me a way out- offered me a way to joy.

It began like the sit ups I force myself to do-

I am grateful for this bed.
I am grateful for this warm thick blanket on my bed.
I am grateful for the cup of tea I know is waiting for me downstairs.

I remembered all the people around me hurting. I remembered how I am hurting.

I pressed on...

I am grateful for the wedding photo hanging on the wall in front of me.
I am grateful for the man who faithfully lays beside sickness and in health.
I am grateful for the four boys that call me mama.

I remembered then, the daughter I long for, the one captured by death, held snug and tight in heaven. I remembered the pain over ten years of God saying "no" to my desperate plea for another baby girl. Sadness was pushing me down. I wanted to hide under the covers, to be an ally to the dark. But I pushed back, this last utterance the reviving jolt, the hardest but truest thanks.

I am grateful for what grief has given me.
I am grateful for the comfort and hope I've received.
I am grateful for the story I have to steward.
I am grateful for the ways I have connected with the hearts of others and the heart of God as a result of my pain.
I am grateful for the promise of heaven...the hope than grows more near and dear with every tear I shed.
I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful.

And at that, notes of praise and thanksgiving, buried by darkness, begged for air. I started singing. Joy was now in control.

Sometimes we live through seasons where joy can only be found by hunting for it. When we intentionally choose gratitude during those dark and cold seasons, it's like building a fire. But we must build it. We must huddle ourselves next to it. How very different this is than the summer seasons where warmth is all encompassing. But perhaps the hotness and intensity of a fire is more appreciated, comforting and rescuing than summer heat. Yes, light can be found...with layer upon layer of gratitude.

For those of you who find yourselves in the midst of deep grief or longing right now, Thanksgiving may feel really difficult. I pray you find a light to cling to. I pray that the embers of gratitude burn long and bright and that new joy may be found.

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Adina & Maureen
Adina & Maureen

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