Longer than it takes the red nail polish to dry

Thanksgiving is a bit of an odd holiday.  Wedged between the excitement of Halloween and the anticipation of Christmas, it does not always get the attention it very well should be given.  Why?  In my humble opinion, being grateful for what surrounds us is the most important aspect of living a filled life.  I don't mean filled like on Friday night you have a place to be, or a gaggle of folks to see... I mean being filled in a way that your love is magnified in the people and things you surround yourself with.  Living, alive in the overflow...

I am finding my perspective and practice of Thanksgiving will need to be longer than it takes my red nail polish to dry.  Why that analogy?  Well, sorry there, guys - this one is for the ladies.  I am a painted nails kinda girl.  In a typical week, you will find me with an assortment of colors.  This week was red.  As I painted, I managed to finish the job without scuffing.  2 coats of red and 15 minutes to sit and not touch anything, or attempt to pick anything up.  Holy hot mamas, a huge feat.

Later I went back to touch up with some top coat - the protector - the one that keeps this stuff on.  Finished and ready to go I was out the door and onto the next thing.  In my haste, I looked down and 3 of my perfectly well manicured nails were scuffed. Seriously?  I had made it, I was done... but I didn't wait to give it time to dry...

So, how does this relate to Thanksgiving?  Well, being grateful is not always immediate and I think in many ways, it is a process.  It takes longer than it takes my nail polish to dry, and it comes with experience... 2 coats and some top coat for good measure.  I should have known, given my experience with my nail polish, to leave it sit for another few minutes... that my process was not done.  Isn't this true about our own versions of gratitude, getting there, and what we are indeed thankful for?  Sometimes, we need the perspective of what is immediate to be compared with the truth of what is long-term.  The more grateful you are for both the immediate and the long-term, the more you look for things to be thankful for, won't you indeed find them?

Have you ever encountered those people?  The ones who light up a room the second you see them - they seem to radiate joy...  I suspect, if you have a chance to talk to, or get to know them, they have an attitude of gratitude - no pun intended.  The ones who are sincere in their joy, are the ones who have found their sweet spot in life because of what they have pursued.  Yes, terrible, awful, no good, very bad things may have happened along the way, but those folks keep walking their walk.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths.  These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen.  Elisabeth Kubler Ross

I read a number of devotions that come to my email inbox each day - I either start or end my day with them depending on my schedule.  Recently, one of them has been about Job.  Now Job is like my least favorite story in the Bible, but so it goes, it is told for a reason.  It is the story where God tests the faithfulness of the ever faithful, ever grateful, Job.  Piece by piece, each element of Job's life is misplaced and disheveled.  His children die, his business sputters, his health fails, and with each step, he refuses to turn his heart and his focus from God.  In a similar fashion, the apostle Paul followed suit - amid shipwrecks, beatings and jail time, his gratefulness to God never failed. He knew, during those times, God was hard at work on something far greater than what his own eyes could see - and that is what I mean by grateful.  To be grateful, I think we must be able to have a perspective to see through the storm.

I often fail at "seeing through".  I get caught up and crushed in the immediacy that is the circumstance and it steals so much of my heart and my head in the process.  The after affects make me timid and less of who I know I am intended to be.  As we live through our own variations of ups and downs, I don't think we're supposed to exactly understand the why in seeing through or the why in the details.  How can we?  I think our hurdles are about learning to trust and grow and dig deeper, climbing over whatever it is that make up our own hurdles; and in the end, being grateful for not only the outcome, but the process, to see the goodness in the dark. I think that is why we encounter all the things we do - people and love and loss and triumph.  Gratitude is not limited to the good - you need darkness to know when there is light, knowing as you go, darkness is not the end. That is what I mean in the perspective to see through the storm.

And so, as I leave you, I hope you find yours - your sunshine, warmth, love, family, coverage, truth, joy and all the things you have to be grateful for.  Let it spill out and overflow and rise to the surface.  For everything I have seen and everything I have experienced, the light and the dark, I am grateful.  I am sustained by love and friendship and joy and kindness.  For all that you have contributed to my year, I am grateful for you. Thank you.

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