“We need to thank God not solely for what we have, but also for who we are, since we are created in the image of God.”
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be thankful for; a family that loves me, friends that supports me; and a loving community that I have been welcomed into… When I think about all that I have and all my privileges, I recognize that I am blessed.
Yet, if I am honest with myself, I realize that it is often hard for me to be thankful and to recognize my blessings. What I struggle with the most is accepting myself with all my faults, my struggles, and my qualities. There is restlessness within me. I yearn for more. If I was smarter, more talented, more this and more that, perhaps I would be more lovable, or so I believe.
I see myself in a lot of the people that I serve, whether at BARN or at BEACON. We all have our vulnerabilities, our fragilities, and our weaknesses. We connect through our common struggles, our desires to overcome them and become the best person that we can be. I see it in the mothers who, despite their abusive and oppressive past, see BARN as a second chance and tries desperately to provide a better life for themselves and their children. I see it in the immigrants who, despite not knowing how to read and write in their native language, try their hardest to learn the language of their adoptive country in the hope of a better future. All around me, if I take the time to see, I recognize those tender moments in life.
What I need to do is be thankful for them, is to recognize the blessings in those life experiences and struggles. I need to see them as God’s way of shaping my life. I need to learn to be joyful despite what I believe to be my failures.
In her book, Called to Question, Joan Chittister said, “… We far too often expect joy to come to us rather than realizing that we have a spiritual responsibility to make it for ourselves.” Though it is hard to find joy in my struggles, weakness, and vulnerabilities, those life experiences often shaped me to be a more understanding, compassionate, and hospitable person. If I am able to bring joy to others, I frequently find that I am joyful myself. I believe that it is by accepting ourselves, all that we are, with all our faults and qualities, that we learn to lean on each other, support each other, and embrace each other through our incompleteness.
I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving and I will be keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers during this advent season!