When Thankfulness is Hard

It is the first major holiday as a family of three.  The winter holidays, particularly Thanksgiving and New Christmas occupy a special place in my heart.  I love cooking and gifts and Christmas music and curling up under a blanket. I have approached this season with a heavy heart.  Knowing that it was this time last year that my my ex began a journey that would lead to him walking out of our lives, has made me rethink every moment of last year’s holiday season.  So, as today is the day we pause and reflect on what we are Thankful for, my thankfulness is often through the fog of tears.

Oddly, I am thankful that the decision to divorce was not left up to me.  I am now able to see with clarity that I probably would have never left my marriage, no matter how insignificant I became.  And due to the circumstance of how it all went down, the custody battle was non-existent, for which I am grateful.

I am thankful that despite everything, the boys and I were able to keep things somewhat normal.  We stayed in our home and they have the same schools and sports teams.  We kept our dogs, and even one of the cats made a strange journey back to us.

I am so very blessed that God knew what my heart needed and basically dropped a group of friends and an amazing church community into my lap when I needed it the most.  I remember crying out in prayer that there was no way I could stay here because I felt so alone and disconnected from my community.  It was like God stepped in and met one of my greatest needs

Lastly, I am thankful for the gift of my sons.  The journey to learn how to parent them alone has been hard.  We are in the middle of a challenging season with the combination of teen boy hormones, grief, and trauma.  There are days I don’t think I can or want to parent them.  But, guess what, at the end of the day, we are still a family and as hard as it is, they are everything to me and I am grateful for the gift of being their mom.

So, yes, being thankful is hard this  year.  My grief and joy are strange bedfellows.  I am trying to keep my expectations low knowing that we are all very raw this year.  But, Bolt, Messi, and I are showing up every day to live, to laugh, to fight, and to love.

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Reflections on Charlottesville

Yet again I found myself watching in horror as the events of Charlottesville unfolded.  There are days that I experience disbelief that in 2017 we are still seeing such overt displays of racism and bigotry.  In just a few weeks, the 54th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech will take place and it feels like we are still fighting the same battle that he fought.  Racism was on full display in Charlottesville on August 11th and 12th and many people have spoken out in horror about those events, which were horrific, indeed.  However, let us not forget the more subtle acts of racism and intolerance that take place on a daily basis in the communities around the United States.  There are women who experience mockery for wearing a hijab, or the people who cross the street if they see an African American man walking towards them at night, or the gay man that is beat up outside of a bar just because of his sexual orientation, or the Hispanic student mocked about “the wall”.  My own sons have had the experience of being followed by guards at stores and last fall my son was mocked and told that the new president would send “people like him back to Africa”.  When we observe this more subtle acts of intolerance do we just look the other way?  I know I have, at times thinking “oh I don’t know what to say or how to help and don’t want to cause more problems”.

When reflecting on racism it is easy to think “oh, I am not like that”.  It also makes me wonder how far any of us is from becoming such a hate filled soul.  There is the part of me whose heart breaks for those who marched proudly in racism and hatred.  What kind of experiences have they had that makes them think that this is all okay?  What kind of deep pain makes them want to lavish others with hate?  I don’t know, but maybe that is just as an important part of the question.  Yes, we should all stand up against intolerance, but it is perhaps more important to prevent it.  May our daily lives be lived in love and empathy and compassion.  May we all reach out to the broken and the hurting and embrace them.  May we teach our children to seek out the lonely and unlikeable.  May we all love as we have been loved.  I leave you with this song lyric that has been on repeat for the past few days.

And hold all the mothers, whose babies bleed from bullet holes
And feel all the hunger, the bellies and the bones
Shout for the prisoner, cry for justice, loud and long
And march with the victims, as Jesus marches on
And sit at all the tables, ’cause Jesus eats with everyone
And dance to the music, if you can’t sing its native tongue
And cry for the wombs, the mothers and the empty arms
And hold high the warriors, fighting now for freedoms’ song

And love, love, love, love
Like it’s your own blood
And love, love, love, love
As you have been loved
Love, love, love, love
Like it’s your own blood
Love, love, love, love
As you have been loved
Love, love, love, love, love
Like [you have been?]
Love, love, love, love, love
It’s all about love!
Love, love, love, love, love
His name is love
Love, love, love, love, love

Dear Me …
You did not learn this in a day or two or three
So ask a lot of questions
But Jesus loves us, this I know
And there are no exceptions

“Dear Me” ~ Nichole Nordeman

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