Thanksgiving week is behind us, guys. We are officially in the thick of the holiday season and I couldn’t be happier about it. The past week was filled with a variety of events that left me feeling considerably grateful for so much in life. And after taking a moment to really put it all on paper, I realized there might be a few golden pieces to pass along.
Last Tuesday was a perfect description of this past year for me. I woke up with plans—solid plans for my day and I was pretty excited about them. On the schedule? Friends and cute coffee shops and getting work done and working out and eating good food with more friends later. My sister was pregnant and 2.5 seconds away from popping out her second little one. The anticipation of holding him had been lingering in my mind all week long! He could have come at any moment and I couldn’t have been more excited.
Important side note: she has since given birth to the most dashing little baby Titus King, aka: TK. I’m still gushing over how perfect he is...
It was a solid day ahead.
And then I received a message from my mom: “We’re headed to the vet to say goodbye to Sadie. She’s not doing well—I just wanted you to know just in case you wanted to be there.”
And just like that, all my plans were just about erased and replaced.
Sadie is our dog. She is the cutest, most gentle, sweetest little collie any family could have asked for. She’s been with us for about 14 years, ever since my little brother was about 3 years old. He grew up with that sweet thing and was arguably the most attached to her. She cared for him, comforted him, provided everything a dog was purposed to give. But over the past couple years she started to get really sick off and on, until last Tuesday—she was so sick it would have been torture to her to keep her alive. So we said our goodbyes and thanked God for giving us such a sweet gift named Sadie.
Instant tears—which surprised me because I didn't think I was all too attached to her in the first place. I used to get so irritated with her barking and clinginess. The girl always wanted to sit on you—not by you, but on you, no matter what.
…I know, I’m a terrible human—sigh.
I mean, I loved her, but, given my attitude most days, I didn’t think I would be so emotional about losing her. There are two kinds of people in this world: animal lovers and animal tolerators. I always thought I might be the latter of the two—but maybe I’m a lot more invested in the furry creatures than I thought. Admittedly, I was mostly sad for my little brother. Sadie was his girl—the saying “a boy and his dog” is a thing for a reason. They really grow to love each other in a unique way…in an unspoken kind of way. They just bond. The dog knows the boy is coming home at the end of the day and the boy knows that the dog will be waiting for him when he does.
Isn’t that what we think about most things in our lives? We just kind of get used to having them around until one day they’re gone. We take it all for granted—not just pets or whatever, but everything. The simple moments, the laughs, the good spontaneous conversations, the time spent and the people with whom we spend it. It becomes common and we forget to marvel at the treasures that they all are.
That night I cooked dinner and had a few friends over—not like a Friendsgiving or anything. Just a time to be together. This particular bunch is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Every one of them are so full of life and goodness. We spent the evening eating, laughing, and talking about nothing in particular—my favorite kind of night. While they were all sitting around my table, I paused internally for a brief minute and thanked God for surrounding me with such amazing people. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg, when I think about it. There are so many more—what did I do to deserve such gifts? Probably absolutely nothing, but God is so good, He gives anyway just to remind us of how much we’re loved.
This year wasn’t the easiest—no doubt, I walked through some of the hardest moments in my life to date, and I witnessed so many of those around me do the same. We have our plans and we map out our lives until one day the script gets flipped and we’re forced to re-evauate. So we cancel said plans, move around a few events, and make space for what is coming today -- ready or not. We let things go and allow them to fade into our past and learn to trust that it’s God's mercy and sovereignty directing our lives. We honor the good times and say thank you for the hard times because we learn that both are needed in order to keep moving forward. We stop asking the question “why?” because we realize the answers won’t really be sufficient, and even if they were, we probably wouldn’t be content with them, anyway.
So we learn...
We learn to give thanks in all things because all things are needed.
And so, for every “better” and every “worse” thing, I am thankful. I’m thankful for good dogs and a family that comes together when it counts. I’m thankful for a little brother that teaches me more about love and compassion than anyone else in my life—whether by example or by challenge. I’m thankful for parents that love me and never give up on me, or on each other for that matter. We stick together no matter how crazy and dysfunction we all might be at times. I'm thankful for a sister that I get to call my best friend and a brother-in-law that always has my back, and the two little beauties they’ve brought into this world. I’m thankful for friends, new and old—the ones that are distant and the ones that are closer than family, too. I’m thankful for this entire year, but for four months of it specifically. Every assiduous and stretching moment of them taught me an immeasurable amount about myself and every piece of me that needed deep Jesus-attention and redemption. & I’m equally thankful that those same four months — every enriching and precious moment of them — also gifted me with some of the sweetest, most joy-filled experiences I’ve had, ever. I’m thankful for grace, because Lord knows how much I’ve needed it this year—just so, so much. I’m thankful for God's mercy—that He won’t allow me to get what I thought I wanted without giving me what I never knew I needed—no matter how painful that might be. I'm thankful for the opportunity to change—that we don’t have to be the same person we were yesterday. I'm thankful for all the lessons and all the love and all the most important things in life.
...like all the insane amounts of good coffee I indulged in this year.
I’m really thankful for the coffee.
And of course, I’m thankful for you. And that you’ve actually read through this entire thing without clicking that little red ‘x’ in the upper left hand corner of your screen prematurely. Because if you had you would have missed out on this...
You are a true gem. Your life matters---a lot. And there is at least one person in this world that loves you with a love you do not deserve. The crazy thing about that is you probably have no problem confirming that you do not deserve that kind of love, but you struggle to accept the love anyway. Don't do that anymore. Be thankful. The greatest act of thankfulness is enjoying the gift.
Alexa | Joy