They are all around us — the walking wounded. This year I join the ranks after two months of hell including legal separation, suicides, domestic violence, natural death, restraining orders, children recovering from past sexual abuse plus living with the “normal” stress of continuous sickness, finals, teenagers, and finances. Others might add things like sexual assault, divorce, debilitating accidents, terminal illness, chronic pain, homelessness, or death of a child. It is difficult to emotionally process any of these life events whether you are experiencing them directly or watching from a distance. Thanksgiving adds incredible pressure to the hurting when they are not offered loving and appropriate support.
I cannot think of anything worse (for me) than being around a group of people that know I am going through an incredibly difficult time but completely avoid any acknowledgement or discussion of my pain. Small talk is miserable for me regardless of the situation! Unfortunately, we all find ourselves feeling isolated by our troubles in a crowded room at some point. Those around us don’t know what to say or don’t want to upset us. We experience the same lack of words plus the added guilt of potentially “ruining” the celebration. The superficial conversations continue. I would guess that deep down we all crave to be known and heard. We certainly all have pain.
What is the point of gathering if this is how we live life together? I challenge you to be brave this Thanksgiving and start real conversations, ask deep questions, and be authentic with those around you. Leave all criticism at home and listen for the story behind the situation. Pay attention to the blessings that happen in the midst of tragedy and take time to celebrate them. Allow yourself to enter into the journey emotionally. I believe that we each have the opportunity to make this holiday life-changing for someone else and ultimately for ourselves. Thanksgiving started out as a celebration of community, let’s agree to make it authentic community.