Monday evening was the first of what will be four Thanksgiving celebrations for me. The night was spent with the women who attend a Red Tent Dinner that I host at my home once a month. We gather to share life and real stories. We break bread, we drink wine, and we share our hearts around the table.
It has become a sweet time that I've looked forward to every month. The women who attend are all friends that are becoming friends that are even more dear and precious to me.
Two women out of our group were absent that night as I set a smaller table than usual.
The conversation that night was rich and sweet. As the evening went on, we all talked about where we were feeling as the holidays approached. And for all of us, there was much emotion about all of the things we are holding as both Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner.
This time one year ago was hard. I made arrangements to spend Thanksgiving day with my best friend and her family because the circumstances with my own family did not allow for me to spend the day with them. It was my choice and yet it was a hard choice that brought me sorrow and caused others sorrow too. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas were difficult last year. Not only was I in immense physical pain because of my newly diagnosed Rheumatoid Arthritis, but my heart just ached.
It's been a year and something has changed - me.
It's hard to explain what's happened, because I'm not really even sure. I didn't do anything - God did it in me. It came as a result of opening my clenched fist. It came after letting Him back in to places of my heart that had been closed off. It came from spending a lot of time with Him because I realized I really, really needed to do that. I can't make life work on my own anymore - I desperately need Him. It came from surrendering my desire to understand things and being filled with His peace. And He hasn't changed my life or my circumstances or my relationships - He's just changed my heart. And I guess because of whatever He did in this heart of mine, my life and my circumstances and my relationships are just starting to look differently.
It's amazing what things look like when you can see life, see yourself, and see others around you when you're no longer looking through the lens of hurt or anger. I almost feel a little bit like the Grinch. Where his heart expands after realizing that Christmas still comes even though he did all he could do to destroy it. I love when he smiles and his eyes soften and he is overcome with warmth and cheer. I feel quite a bit like that.
I am moving into this season with great anticipation. And not because I'm going to have some kind of storybook Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday, but because I am leaning on God in a way that I never have before and it's allowed me to live with a new measure of peace. In this, I feel scared that what's happened to me might go away too. That something huge is going to come and knock me on my butt again and everything that has become new in my heart will wither away again. But I don't want to live in fear of what could be or could happen. I can only live in the now and celebrate what God has done now.
The next Thanksgiving celebration is Sunday at our church. The service will be only music and sharing around the congregation of what God has done and where they want to give thanks to God. I have looked forward to this since it was announced. We've been there almost two years and our church is finally starting to feel like home. Church is beginning to feel safe again. Relationships are finally beginning to form and to share in a Thanksgiving feast with our church body feels sweet.
Next week holds even more. A day spent with my family. I am reveling in the sweetness of planning and preparing for the day as it approaches. It feels good to be here. I am enjoying it, I am thankful for it, I am humbled by it.
I feel surrounded by much sweetness right now. It is good. So good.