Friday, April 30, 2010

The Humility of Gratitude

I had originally filled this space with a description of the emotional roller coaster I've been on these last eight months. It dawned on me upon reading it that it was more a stream of conscious processing than a palatable story of my journey. In its stead, I'd like to, simply, summarize what I have learned:

The truth shall set you free.

"Truth" is perceived as positive, but we often forget that sometimes truth can be painful to hear or difficult to face. We often will go to great lengths to protect ourselves from the truth, including lying to ourselves and destroying relationships by lying to the people we love the most as a result. Looking at truth in this light, can you see how it might impede our freedom? Refusing to deal with some truths face to face leaves behind a path of destruction and stunts our ability to seek out and experience healing and necessary growth. Insisting on believing a lie creates patterns that keep us from attaining our goals or finding true fulfillment in our lives.

I refused to believe many truths for many months (many years for that matter), and the healing I so desperately needed from the decisions of last year was minimized in my rational efforts to "move on". For the past couple of months, I have stood up against the tendency to make myself move on. I want to be free, and freedom is found only in facing - and dealing with - difficult truths. Only in coming to terms with truths about myself and truths about others can I extend the grace and forgiveness to myself and those who have hurt me. I feel, wholeheartedly, that forgiveness and grace is where my healing will actually come to fruition. But it is a process, and it requires time, intention, and commitment. There are no shortcuts, I realize that now.

So, guess what - I am still sad. Sometimes really, really sad. But my ability to breath it in, let it process, and breath it out has been instrumental in helping me to see the ways in which I am happy. Sometimes, really, really happy. I've stopped lying to myself (or at least I'm trying to) which means I'm painfully forced to take responsibility for my own actions. But there is a divine strength in my life that is allowing me to bear that burden and dripping hope back into my life a little more each day. I thought the truth would be unbearable, but I closed my eyes and jumped anyway. I don't know why I'm surprised that, while sad, it's tolerable and actually sometimes enlightening.

So, I am grateful for the pain. Do you hear that? Grateful. If I don't feel it I'm not learning anything. If I'm not introspective I'm not able to take the necessary time to pave the way to new relationships that are founded in truth and strengthened in honesty. Being aware of humility and gratitude in my tears is a very strange feeling, but proof every day that this Faith Experiment of mine is far from over.

Also, being grateful for sadness has made me more aware than ever of those times when I am happy. Just as I have brief moments of sorrow, I have found myself basking more and more in brief moments of acceptance (and sometimes even joy). I am blessed! With this mustard seed, hope, passion, and excitement are slowly being restored.

Tomorrow, I journey back to Africa (well, it was supposed to be today but that is another story). I head back to where I originally found the strength and closure I needed to move onto my life. This year I go in gratitude, seeking connection, community, and healing.