Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Slammed doors

Since my family's favorite holiday traditions of nagging and guilt have already started, I wanted to share my thoughts on gratitude now - while I still feel somewhat friendly and sentimental.

If I've learned anything in the last few years, it's that blessings are everywhere, even if they aren't always obvious. Sometimes what seems like missed opportunity is actually redirection towards something so much better. Sometimes, God slams a door shut because we are not smart enough to close it on our own.

There was a time when I thought my life would never be good, because it could never be what I wanted. I tried feeling sorry for myself - turns out, that doesn't really work. So I set out to make the best of what I could with what I had left. It didn't work right away, and at times I got discouraged. What I came to realize was that time wasn't being wasted - it just takes a long time and a lot of patience to build an amazing life full of joy and hope.

When I think about where I was even a year ago, I realize that if I had gotten everything I thought I wanted, I would have missed out on something so much better.

Sometimes, the most painful lessons are the biggest blessings. We have to hurt to understand what we really need. We have to go through loss to find what really matters. We have to be forced to change to figure out what we were doing wrong. But once you accept those lessons and open your heart to the possibility that you don't know everything... wonderful, amazing things happen.

This year, when asked why I am thankful, my answer will be:

I am thankful that God helped me see what I was doing wrong. I am thankful that He gave me friends who could help me navigate the loss, and make the changes I needed. But most of all, I am so very thankful that He slammed that door shut.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Red, blue, and white

In the last few days, my Facebook timeline has become quite confusing. One by one, my friends have filtered their profile photos to "stand with Paris." Hey, I get it - it's sad and tragic to see lives lost in such a senseless way.

Then a few friends took issue with those who had chosen to stand with Paris. What good does that do? Support = money, so send cash, not a temporary profile photo. Others said why Paris, but not other countries? Why do you value some lives more than others?

Well, I think the easy answer to the last one is that no profile photo filter was created for the other countries. But why Paris and not them? Paris is a US ally, and a peaceful country. As Americans I think we relate to their tragedy more than tragedy in other countries. Is that right? I have no idea, but there it is.

It's true that a red, blue, and white filter won't help those affected immediately. They need resources, too. Not everyone has resources to share -  but a kind thought or a little support is free, and easy to give. Who's to say it doesn't make the people in Paris feel just a little better knowing someone cares? It certainly can't hurt.

Besides, the filters aren't just about the victims. Something like this affects people in a lot of different ways. I think it just helps some people to feel part of something larger. That they said something, or shared something. It helps to know they did what they could.

I happen to believe that there is power in a whole group coming together with prayers and well-wishes. It helps us all heal, and feel more at peace. It brings light to help drive out the darkness.

We shouldn't assume that someone with a filter-less profile picture doesn't care, nor should we assume that a filtered photo means a person hasn't lent other support, or cares about one life over another.

Grief and loss are difficult enough, without tossing assumptions or accusations into the mix. How about we take some of that goodwill and apply it in real life, too?

I also have a couple of thoughts on refugees... but that'll have to be another time. Maybe.