So tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
I like to think I’m pretty good at practicing acts of gratitude. Even through the simple routine of Happiness is posts, I’ve learned to find something good in every day – no matter how dire the situation seems. Through reading and writing in this world of Happiness and inspiration, I’ve found endless articles about the power of gratitude, so much so that I almost feel like the overwhelming “thanks” part of the holiday is something I’ve already got totally under wraps.
I’m like an appreciation pro. And if you’re a close friend, you’ll know I’m also a sentimentality sucker as I don’t wait until Thanksgiving to send random long messages or cute postcards to show my appreciation for the amazing people that have been lights in my life.
I know I’m blessed.
But something bigger came over me a few days ago. I was sitting in church this past Sunday when I looked around at the small congregation that had taken me in at the beginning of the year when I began regularly attending services at the church at the end of my street.
I thought of the very first service I went to and I thought of where I was then. Since moving to New York City in January, I have lived in five apartments, had twenty different roommates, held six jobs, and volunteered with four different organizations. I’ve been up and down and all over the place emotionally.
I went from someone who only took the 1 Train everywhere (and then walked from wherever it let me off) to someone who can navigate public transit in her sleep. I went from solely surviving on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to making healthy smoothies in my roommate’s blender. I went from job to job and apartment to apartment in an attempt to try to figure out what my life was going to be and despite all that, I had one constant.
I wasn’t going back to the first Craigslist apartment I subletted. I wasn’t going back to terrible nutrition habits, working five 12-hour days in a row, or having no idea how the subway system worked.
But I was going back to my church. Despite all the moving colors around me, I had that one constant structure in my life and so even as I moved apartments and jobs and navigated New York City, I still had that little church.
And so I sat there a few days ago on Sunday and looked around at the faces that I had met when I was perhaps in my lowest place of complete uncertainty and sadness. At a time when I had no idea what was going on, these people welcomed me into their family.
Now, I almost feel as though I’ve conquered New York. I’ve managed the hustle and though living in New York is an adventure in and of itself, I’ve come leaps and bounds from where I stood the first time I entered the sanctuary.
And I sat there and thought about how I could add this group and this Sunday routine to my list of things I’m grateful for this week and always. But another thought struck my mind in the process. Yes, I was grateful for my church and its members. But the root of my gratitude this year comes from something else.
I am grateful for growth.
I am grateful that I flew into a city with two suitcases and no plan. I’m grateful for terrible housing situations and job rejections and money worries. I’m grateful for the time spent having no friends and no plans and no direction. I’m grateful that I was given the chance to sink or swim, to let New York swallow me or to, despite how weak I may have felt, to fight back and conquer it.
I’m grateful for the horrible experiences, frustrations, and fears. Because that is what I grew from.
This Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for the terrible just as sincerely as I am grateful for the good. This Thanksgiving season, I am doubly thankful for all the in between, all the uncertainty, and knowing that life will continue to be a growing and learning process.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.