As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself wavering between two worlds: Grief and Gratitude. I am thankful for so many things – my wife and kids, my job, our home, Jesus and all that he has done for me, our family and friends, etc. I want to continue to grow in gratitude for these things and so much more! But I am also aware of grief. All the many disappointments I have experienced, crushed dreams, broken promises, betrayals, abandonments, sin and deceit, seem to be closer to the surface, clamoring for attention.
For many of us, Thanksgiving (and the Holidays in general) stir up painful memories and identity issues having to do with our families. Most of us visit with family during this time (busiest travel day of the year is today!), which involves renewing relationships but also fresh provocations of areas of pain. We get so easily “categorized” by our family back into our primordial roles, and we relate from that place, so easily forgetting who we really are.
I often spent Thanksgiving with my Dad, so I am especially aware of the pain in my relationship with him, which still feels fresh even though he has passed away. I feel a double abandonment when I think of him; the first when he left us when I was 9 years old, and the second when he died a few years ago without resolving much in our relationship.
To ignore either of these realities will mean I become less than human. This Thanksgiving, I grieve and I give thanks. How else can you live in this world and retain honesty?