Aloha to a summer chock-full of birthday cakes and new beginnings. Soul-nourishing conversations and quality time with loved ones. Galveston Strand and sunsets casting rays through fields and abandoned railroad tracks. Chlorine soaked skin and sunscreen chalked residue. Creative aspirations and woven words. And a little—or rather, a lot of—CFA (Chick-Fil-A for all you non-nugget fans) for good measure.
As typical of life, the harder moments sought to worm their way in with all that was good. There were tearful goodbyes. There was immense sadness over the chaos in this world. There was grief, loneliness, and longings to establish roots in this place.
Anyone who knows me well knows the past several years have been a beautiful mess – a co-mingling of blessings and hardship that has often left me feeling raw, vulnerable, and like a dirt-faced child who muddied up her Sunday’s Finest.
To be honest, I can’t think of the last time I lived in the head space where everything in my life thrived in some state of cosmic harmony, feet never touching the ground while tap dancing on cloud nine.
For certain, there have been enormous joys, restoration, and oodles of laughter along the way – all of which I’m most grateful and have celebrated to the fullest. But there’s also been adversity and close relationships lost. Deaths, grief, loneliness, and dreams squashed.
The more I find myself enmeshed in seasons where blessings and hardships appear to have some sort of love affair, all the more I recognize the power behind gratitude.
When the hard seeks to prevail over the good, I must remember what I’ve found to be true and what I long to instill into the minds of my babes: gratitude is a game changer.
Gratitude is counterintuitive. Like, what sane person wants to acknowledge the kind of pain that keeps her awake at night and imposes itself into every waking thought, and then actually thanks God for it??
Some days, it’s an act of the will to muster up the strength to say, “Thanks for this, God.” And on other days, the lens is rosier and it’s near automatic to “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds.” (James 1:2).
So…for anyone walking through a season of mingled celebrations and sorrows, please don’t hear me saying you need to become the next Pollyanna.
No. Allow yourself to feel the hurt and give yourself permission to grieve, if you need to do so. Then, when you’re ready, put these hard parts of life under a microscope and dissect them until you’ve discovered their hidden redemptive qualities.
A lens of gratitude can dim out the hard so that light creeps in. Then, comes an undercurrent of hope and glimpses of joy on the horizon. Beauty in the mundane. Stillness in the storm. Feasts in the scarcity. Richness along the journey.
All I know is I want to learn how to celebrate every moment of this life—to savor the fullness of this journey—no matter what it may bring.
Won’t you join me and do the same?