I hear that when things get really hard, the best response is gratitude. But if we can get real--being thankful is like, the last thing you want to do when things are going...well, just plain--you know.
Our prideful and self righteous response is, "Why me?" Maybe it's not even pride - maybe it's just what we expect in a world that doesn't always paint Disney movie fantasies, or favorite book endings. (I mean come on, Harry Potter is the best thing ever, but Harry lived and got Ginny as a wife - plus a cool, semi-redhead family).
What's there to say "Thank You" for when you're in pain? It seems silly, and almost pathetic, to keep saying "Thank You"--to keep extending your heart in a posture of gratitude.
But at our best moments, we act like children. Not necessarily the reckless moments of abandon that actually hurt (real bad) in the end; I'm talking about the carefree, hopeful, always-willing-to-give-life-a-second-chance, childlike selves we all have hiding somewhere in our ribs. The rainbow-after-the-storm hope.
It's the willingness in all of us to jump into something, even when we're not sure. Those are the moments which define our courage; this childlike, hopeful, "original" nature. Call it good, call it bad, it gives me life to jump into things like that. It feels like God is sneaking around Christmas morning, planting gifts in secret parts of the house--and I love finding them.
This weekend, I have been overwhelmed, and thankful. On Saturday, the phrase that stood out: "Hope is real - so is the Lord." Sunday: "Awakened, and held." Monday: "Community."
I am so thankful that the Lord is refining the way I love.
I am so thankful that He is forcing me under the shadow of His wings, and showing me what it's like when He leads into the unknown. Let me give you a hint: It's freeing. It releases you to be yourself. It allows you to see the truth, and to see the chasms that you tried to fill up, and jump over, all on your own. No wonder it felt hard--we aren't meant to jump chasms; and certainly not in our own strength.
I am overwhelmed--I am thankful--that "the fall" isn't the end. I'm overwhelmed that I have never felt so defeated, and yet so inspired to move forward. I'm overwhelmed by the fact that I've never felt so drained and yet so full. So able, so committed, so myself.
The Lord has created me as me and it is good (with edits and amendments that are, no doubt, necessary).
What a beautiful thing that "the end" is never "the end".
You are you because you are you; and you were created to be you; and that is something amazing, stupendeous, magnificient, and wonderful.
Figure it out.
Because you are you and she is she and he is he and we're all learning to bend our backs in the most life-giving ways to create step-stools for our holy and broken and wonderfully misunderstood brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.
We are learning how to develop each other into the best versions of "servant" and "love" that we can be. It's messy; it's painful; it's ours. We are owners of this process; this family; I will always be yours and you will be always be mine (because you are His and I am His, and we are two puzzle pieces that need Him in between to ever "fit" truly or be complete).
I'm glad you're here with me. We're like those silly kids on the playground locking arms and trying to do "the worm" and slither silly—while playing tag and shouting.
I'm glad you're here with me. We're those silly kids in neighboring houses with tin cans and strings, whispering secrets and making sure "the monsters" don't scare each of us too badly. Hold your tin can tightly, and never let the string break; I am so, so glad you're here with me.
I've been overwhelmed by the kindness of people this week; people I never knew had hearts the size of Jupiter with the sassiness of Pluto. I have been standing—a dumbfounded, open-mouthed child staring at the night sky—watching these human hearts encircle me like a secret-handshake group of angels.
And can I just say, that even if each day feels like a mountain climb, I almost want to let out a "barbaric yawp" and cry with joyful contentedness - because I never realized I had a Team climbing with me.
Community is never a burden when we learn to utilize it in healthy ways. Community anchors and grounds. Community allows for independence and connection all at once, and teaches us the healthy balance of each. Community is beautiful; community makes mistakes; community tries again; and again; and again. (70 times 7.)
Life was made with community in mind. "My humanity is tied to yours; and yours to mine."
So I commit, now. Forever community, forever ready, forever willing.
I commit to acknowledging your humanity; and when I fail, I commit to get up and tell you I was wrong. I commit to tell you when you're being dumb; overdramatic. I commit to shut up and listen when I shouldn't say a word.
I commit to release control. I commit to release expectations. I commit to fun. And I commit not to run, even when my knees buckIe and my face grows hot. I commit to love even when you annoy me, or I annoy you. I commit to lift you up when you can't move: and I commit to letting you lift me up when I can't move.
I commit to showing you the beauty in your eyes when you can't look in a mirror. I commit to stop thinking about myself so much. I commit to showing up to your intramural games, even if I have an excuse not to.
I commit to being there - and I commit to taking part in this; I commit to being awake; I commit to not "changing myself", but "bettering myself". I commit to being a best friend when you need, and a better friend when you need to leave. I commit to releasing control, because I own nothing - especially not you.
I commit to community like this, because community like this is what makes life shine. I've felt the warmth of it.
I commit to not knowing the future, and not trying to pin it down. I commit to flying from one day to the next, like a bird learning to be herself in a moving world. I commit to not knowing everything, or acting like I do.
I commit to community like this, because community like this is what makes life richer than the best Ghiradelli brownies.
I commit to community because I have to; because real love and joy is what flows from community like this.
And I felt the need to say all that, as I am thankful, but also painfully aware that this world is different than what it "should" be (whatever that means). I am aware that I take part in the pain. And I want to acknowledge, and I want to combat. I want to be an active participant in life.
Because we weren't made for "ends" or "deaths" or "pain"; so I commit to being with you, even when the worst comes. Community. I was made for this, and I think we all were.
The point isn't survival; the point is together.
I commit to community. And I'm overwhelmed.
Because I'm thankful.
I'm committed to the thin air disappearing with my lungs; I'm committed even when the ground gives out; I'm committed even when the shadows seem to be the friendliest things I see.
I commit, because I am overwhelmed. And I never want to forget. I never want to forget what it means to say "Thank you".
So thank you.
Today was a day with a laugh or two. Tomorrow may have more. And if I'm still here at the end of this week, I'll keep hoping for even more than that. There is so much to say "Thank you" for.
Today I'll say "Thank you" for who you are.
So thank you.
You're back is arched in the perfect step stool, and I'm slowly learning to walk.
Slowly, whispering "Thank you".
So thank you.
I'm so glad you're with me.