Deo Gratias // Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, and it brings us all an opportunity to reflect on what we are thankful for.
This year has already been a hell of a year and it is not even over yet. From new friends to new experiences, emotional highs and interal turmoil, I have to give my 20th year props for being anything but boring. Of course, with the interesting comes all the things to be thankful for, and hence another self reflection on my part on what I have to be grateful for. The short answer, of course, is that I have my entire life to be grateful for.
There is no way to escape the cliche that is about to come, so here it goes: THANK YOU a thousand times over to my family and friends for the joy that they bring to my life. To my parents for the endless support and sacrifice for the three of us in every way possible, thank you for taking care of us, providing for us, and teaching us every day what it means be a good person and a child of God. Thank you to my sisters for providing me with endless laughter and for challenging me to be a good role model for you. Thank you to Therese for learning how to cook amazing things and sharing with them (because apparently I am incapable) and to Eleanor for being my number 1 photographer and eyebrow lady. To my friends for making life interesting, getting me through the hard and tough times and joining me for all the good times: you all rock.
I’m grateful for the opportunities and privileges that I have been given, such as being able to go to school, to practice my religion without fear of persecution, and to be a in a part of the world that is relatively safe. I’m grateful for writing, for music, and for all those that support my paths in those endeavours. For my choir family, volunteer pals, youth ministry and those that have been there for me even though I have stumbled and fell: thank you.
But the biggest thing that I am grateful for, on top of everything else that I have listed, is God’s mercy and a second chance at life.
By now, most people know that this past summer, I got a tattoo. It was rad, but it definitely goes a lot further than being just something cool for me to do.
You can read that particular story in the post that I linked, but in short, I got the tattoo as a reminder to myself that I got over a significant down-slump in my life, and by the grace of God and a lot of support, I was better, for a time.
This year, for reasons that still haven’t been made known to me, has brought me a lot of emotional and spiritual hardship. Admittedly I had gotten into a lot of frequent arguments with parents, fought with friends, and above all fought with myself. I felt like I was back in high school again, stuck between choosing to keep on living and wanting to commit suicide. I felt that I had failed everyone that had ever supported me, and myself.
Getting the tattoo was almost fraudulent in a way, because this summer brought about the bulk of this lack of control that I had over my emotions. But I got it regardless, hoping that I would remind myself of the progress that I had made and that I would be able to turn my life around (again) for a second time.
I’m pleased to say that a few months later, I am trying to get better. I have all of the above people and so many more to thank for helping me get out of this dangerous phase of my life. I have started counselling at school and I have a lovely counsellor is doing so much to help me get through this tough time in my life.
Throughout this experience, I lacked my faith in God. I lacked reaching out to Him and praying for His guidance. I remember speaking to a young girl about faith and asking her how she was so sure about God’s existence. She thought for a bit, and then turned to me with the brightest eyes and said, “He made me, and He made you. He people that love us and He loves us. How can you not believe in that?”
This childike innocence is something that I have been lacking ever since I turned a certain age and walked into the real world. It reminds me of this verse from the Gospel of Matthew:
“Then he said, ‘In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this child is the greatest of the kingdom of Heaven.” – Matthew 18: 3-4
As I’ve gotten older, I keep thinking and telling myself that because I am maturing, my faith is maturing. But the reality is that it has led me to more doubt and in the end, more hardship. But I have forgotten what faith truly is: not just follow blindly, but trusting in God’s providence. Trusting that God has a plan for me, and for you. And that He will never let us down.
Talking with this child was a humbling reminder that I should always approach my life and faith with the innocence of a child. Thanks be to God for life, for this child, and for faith!
Life has its trials, but I am confident that God will get me through. Deo gratias and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!