Our first thanksgiving as newlyweds we spent with my in-laws in Franklin Tennessee. We crowded around the dining room table at lunchtime to share a truly southern thanksgiving meal prepared by my mother in law. After the meal we remained in our seats, dessert plates filled with pecan pie and pumpkin pie, forks clinking against the china, and shared what we were grateful for from the year past.
Being that my seat was well on the other side of the table, I had time before it came my turn to put into a few concise and articulate sentences what it was that I was grateful for from the past year. But when it came my turn, I just sat there and ugly cried as I barely croaked out a few words about my new husband and how much I loved him, and my papa and dear friend Leighton who had both passed away unexpectedly that year.
For years I have not been able to articulate what it is that I feel deeply in my gut that particular thanksgiving and what it is that I feel when I am feeling grateful.
Those moments of gratitude that cause our voices crack and eyes well up, those moments of deep gratitude can feel so vulnerable.
But why is it that gratitude feels so vulnerable?
Because in a world where we live with our guard up, where we lock our doors and scan the parking lot as we walk to our car, where we turn on the TV only to see the latest breaking new flash across the screen, where we feel the heartbreak of loss and the riveting pain of tragedy many days, that's what makes gratitude feel so vulnerable.
It’s because those moments of gratitude are filled with deep gladness.
Gladness has the ability to scare us.
It makes us feel like we need to brace ourselves. Because if there’s too much good in life then surely there is impending doom.
If things are going too well, surely the other shoe is about to drop.
Gladness is why gratitude feels so scary.
Gladness is what makes gratitude feel so vulnerable.
But we must not live in the fear.
Because it's the fear of the ‘what if’ will only rob us of our gratitude.
Fear will rob us of the gladness that heals our souls and brings light and laughter to those around us
So as you sit around your table today, reminiscing, telling stories catching up in conversation, may you feel a deep sense of gratitude. And along with that gratitude, you will likely feel vulnerable. The kind of vulnerability that makes you want to go smoke a cigarette, eat another roll or tell an inappropriate joke. But stay in it, because the more uneasy that gratitude makes you feel, the more vulnerable that gratitude makes you feel, the more you will know what matters in this life, the people and the places that have marked you and that matter to you. That is where gratitude and gladness dwell, and what rich gifts they are to all who receive them