‘Thank you’ kind of looks like this: As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
Sometimes, I’ve decided, being grateful is my default action and reaction to circumstances I cannot understand – or change. It is as though I’ve learned that I need to be grateful for adversity, or difficulty, because I know that this is where my purest growing happens.
However, it is a bit of a charade. And things are changing. I think somewhere between situation and reaction, I’ve forgotten to let myself be. Be tired. Be hurt. Be afraid. Be lonely. Be angry. Be frustrated. Be confused. And then, let the authentic gratitude come later. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this – a masking of what is really going on, providing the “right” answer instead of the “true” one.
Doesn’t sound like much good around here, does it?
I think I have mentioned that this year has been a difficult one.. not just at work, and not just in my personal life. For some reason, 28 has boasted more adversity and more confusion that any years past. As it has all unfolded, I’ve felt pretty vulnerable, yet consciously aware of why I am walking through everything. Call it self-awareness, call it maturity, or whatever you want, but as everything has happened, I think I’ve been attune to it because this is the first year I’ve also really understood myself. My limitations, my downfalls, my talents, my strengths. I have struggled with worthiness this year; I wonder often if the range of who I am is as valuable as I think it is. I’ve taken more risks this year, but I’ve also struggled to find my voice in some of the most important aspects of my everyday.
Anyway. My profession provides a myriad of ways to feel success and vulnerability every day, all day. I feel like I am perfecting my craft a bit more, all the time. I often refer to myself as a “work in progress”, yet this has negated myself from seeing that even so, I am pretty good. There have been many instances that have left me wondering and questioning that this year, but I try to see that humility to my art is the place that I want to be. The same is true for my relationships. While sometimes leaving me feeling as though I shoulder much responsibility for things that really aren’t mine, I am learning to trust that people are capable of disappointing or hurting me, even when they love me and fill that need in my soul for connection. It might not be revolutionary to all, but it sure has been to me. Somehow, it makes me feel better, learning that all this can’t solely be on me. I tend, as we all do, look at our own situations and go “well, this is really not so bad and compared to others, I have nothing to complain about”, but as much as we do this, we need to get better at recognizing our hurts need only to be measured relative to our own experiences. In other words, this is the worse it has been for me. And I am tired. 🙂
Now, none of that [very confusing and vague] explanation is my point. I have been struggling to put words to everything, because I know I am not ignorant to how beautiful and much-more-whole I will feel once I am out of these valleys, looking back and seeing how much better I am for these bits and pieces of my life. However, I am tired of putting an inaccurate voice to how difficult it’s truly been. My mom’s favourite saying (and subsequently, my least favourite) is “bloom where you’re planted” – some line from a Catholic hymn that used to drive me crazy in grade school. I’ve tried, and ultimately struggled with, being grateful, genuinely, in the moment as the days of this year have passed. Instead of allowing myself to be more honest with others, and myself, about everything, I’ve created a cautious identity of gratitude, even though it doesn’t always work.
Don’t misinterpret this – I am grateful. I know that amongst pain are immense blessings. I just also know that I am not better for ignoring some other truths in my heart, and in my experience. Chalk it up to working with kids all day, and encouraging them to find their voices and be authentic in their being, but I’ve been feeling convicted in knowing that there is a bit of a competition in my heart right now – being grateful and being unsure [of why things are panning out as they are]…is it possible for me to be both?
I remember going to counselling a few years back and we were talking about how tired I was about learning lessons. I wanted to be left alone for awhile…no more lessons for a bit. As I write that, I am taken back to that day, and I still feel silly for saying it. I guess my point is that I want to know that what what I am doing is good enough for awhile, even though I know it’s never that easy. We don’t plateau, nor would I want to, at a mediocre version of ourselves; a version we spend our entire lives trying to overcome as we get better and better at identifying ourselves with who we’re supposed to be.
Anyway, this post is lame. And I am as restless with it as I am restless with many things right now. But I think what I have learned, especially in the last four to eight months, is that even though it might lack authenticity at times, attempting to live in gratitude is much better than the alternative. My gratitude looks different, as I try to be thankful even for experiences that have been hard on me, but somehow I have to trust that this will be more beneficial in the long run.
Doesn’t mean I am not exhausted. Or hurt. Or confused. Or humbled. I am trying to be all of those things, too.
Looking forward to so many things… ❤
grace and peace.