People who really know me--I mean really know me, and I can count those people on one hand--know that I'm going through the darkest time of my life right now. For reasons I don't share with anyone but family and extremely close friends, my personal life is in complete upheaval. Most of the time I'm able to put on a funny face and carry on like life is normal. But it isn't. I am relatively certain it will never be normal again in the way it has been since I was in college. It may become a new normal, even a good normal, someday, but it I feel pretty strongly that the old normal is over. And, on many levels, that breaks my heart.
And that brokenness is manifesting itself in one very specific way. I am normally the biggest of Christmas nuts. I start playing Christmas music secretly in October and publicly the first week of November. And I have listened to some, but I find myself more and more opting for non-holiday music. Or even silence. But I can't take the silence for too long because it starts my brain churning and makes my stomach hurt. The thought of Christmas just makes me feel a little ill. I want to just skip over it. I don't mind the time off of school, but even that has its drawbacks. Spare time leads to too much time to think. To think about how my life isn't what it should be and I'm not the person I should be and how I'm disturbed by the thought that I'm coming to peace with those concepts. I guess I'm saying I suck and am learning to be okay with that.
And yet, I am reminded, pretty much daily, through my devotions and my family and my friends from church and by God, that I have more to be thankful for than I could fit in a book or even a library, let alone a single blog entry. So I'll just talk about a few that come to mind right now. Let me say that, though it won't be a category unto itself, my relationship with Christ is shot through all of them. Without my faith, I have no idea where I would be now.
First is my family. When I say family, I mean biologically and those who choose to be. I can't stop thanking God that my parents, both nearly 80, are in great health. I can't adequately express how much that means to me. I also have siblings I love so much, and I'm happy to say that they love me back. Finally, there are a couple people, and they know who they are, who are family because they've chosen to love me and be there for me. I'm truly thankful for these people who have been such a support in my time of need.
I am also thankful for my health. I'm trying to convince myself to stop taking this for granted and be more proactive about keeping myself healthy. I know I'm at that age when I can go one of two ways--toward staying young and vital or toward old age and sickness. I want the first one and, to a great extent, I'm in charge of which path I take. I think the height of thankfulness would be not to waste that for which I am grateful.
Finally, I am thankful for being one of those oddballs who has a job he absolutely loves. Two jobs, actually, though I've only ever gotten paid for one of them. As a teacher, I'm so blessed to spend my working hours with people who make me so happy. And I get the privilege of being able to make a positive impact on their lives. May I never take that for granted. Beyond that, I've rediscovered a passion for writing that lay dormant for decades. Even if I never get published (Though it wouldn't be terrible if that headlines my thankful list next year at this time!), writing has helped me deal with life by temporarily escaping it while spending time in a world of my making, a world that makes a lot more sense than the real one does.
I could go on for a few hundred more pages, but I fear this has gone on too long already. Thanks to those of you who've made it all the way to the end. I really do appreciate it.