It’s the night before Thanksgiving. Actually, technically it is already Thanksgiving. I should be crafting a post outlining all the things for which I’m thankful. Truthfully, there are many: wonderful, healthy children. A supportive and caring family. The most amazing network of friends I could have ever hoped to have. A warm home in which to live. A safe car to drive. Plenty of food to put on the table. The list could go on and on.
But those aren’t the things I want to focus on right now. Not exactly, anyway. Because here’s the thing: sometimes gratitude isn’t always synonymous with joy.
That’s the perception, right? What do you have to be sad about? Look at all the things in your life to be thankful for! Once you regain some perspective and focus on the good things, all your sadness will melt away. Will it? Should it?
Believe me, I am a huge proponent of searching for the blessings, even, and especially, when the going gets rough. Choosing gratitude over self-pity and discontentment does help. It helps us to be more positive. It helps us to be more appreciative. And sometimes, yes, it helps us to feel happier. But not always.
Sometimes even a grateful heart is a hurting heart. A heart that is experiencing brokenness and difficult changes. A heart that recognizes and embraces the good, all the while allowing itself to mourn the bad.
So here I sit, on this Thanksgiving Eve, overwhelmed by all the good in my life. Because there truly are so many things for which to be grateful. But I also sit here acutely aware of the empty beds in the next room. Of the empty place that will always be at the table at our Thanksgiving dinner because she left us too soon. And of all the other painful things in my life right now.
It is okay to be grateful, yet sad. Thankful, yet hurting. The two are not mutually exclusive.