We are aware that on this week of Thanksgiving 2020, we aren’t all in the same place.

Some of us are living in a space of gratitude. For some of us, we are experiencing more fear and sadness than thankfulness. So today, we are offering two different devotions – one that leans more towards gratitude (A Thanksgiving Blessing) and one that leans more toward fear and sadness (It’s OK not to be OK).

Choose your devotion. Or, read both! Either way, may you feel God’s presence with you this day.

– Pastors Amy and Ann

 

A Thanksgiving Blessing

Thanksgiving 2020 finds us in uncharted territory.  On Facebook, many have reposted that “A Zoom Thanksgiving is better than an ICU Christmas.”  Across the country, we’re recalibrating and brainstorming ways to connect safely with those we love and cannot visit in person.  In whatever setting we find ourselves, alone, or in a small pod, may this poem, by author and retreat leader Joyce Rupp, help us claim with gratitude the blessings in our lives and in this day.

A Thanksgiving Blessing

May an abundance of gratitude burst forth
as you reflect upon what you have received.

May thanksgiving overflow in your heart,
and often be proclaimed in your prayer.

May you gather around the table of your heart
the ardent faithfulness, kindness, and goodness
of each person who is true to you.

May the harvest of your good actions
bring forth plentiful fruit each day.

May you discover a cache of hidden wisdom
among the people and events
that have brought you distress and sorrow.

May your basket of blessings surprise you
with its rich diversity of gifts
and its opportunities for growth.

May all that nourishes and resources your life
bring you daily satisfaction and renewed hope.

May you slow your hurried pace of life
so you can be aware of, and enjoy,
what you too easily take for granted.

May you always be open, willing,
and ready to share your blessings with others.

May you never forget the Generous One
who loves you lavishly and unconditionally.

What is in your basket of blessings this year? What do you take for granted? How might you offer a blessing to someone this day?

-Written by Ann Palmerton

 

It’s OK not to be OK.

We need to hear that this week. This week when we are supposed to be full of thanksgiving and gratitude, what if we are feeling anything but grateful? As the numbers of those with Covid-19 increase and grow, as people we know and love come down with the virus, we need to know that it’s OK not to be OK.

 

For the most part, people like us resist admitting that we aren’t OK. We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves. We don’t want to be a bother to anyone. Many of us engage in something that Brene Brown calls comparative suffering. It goes something like this:

 

I can’t be angry and afraid about being sick right now, because there are people sicker than me. I can’t be scared for my children because there are homeless kids who have nowhere to sleep tonight. Why should I be tired and angry, I have a job right now and so many people don’t.

 

In the last eight months, I have heard so many of you say something similar. I have said these things as well. We rank our suffering and then deny ourselves permission to feel. Brene Brown suggests that this is not a helpful approach to the challenge of these days. In a recent podcast she says:

 

I get it, I do it, I fight with it, but this is not how emotion or affect works. Emotions do not go away, because we send them a message that, “Hey, message incoming. These feelings are inappropriate and do not score high enough on the suffering board. Please delete all feelings related to this. You are not in pain enough. Thank you.” That’s not the way this works. The emotions that you’re feeling, that we feel, when we deny them double down, they burrow, they fester, they metastasize. And not only do our feelings double down and grow, they invite shame over for the party. Because now, we’re like, “I am a bad person, because I’m sad or scared or lonely, or frustrated or disappointed or pissed off. And other people have it so much worse than me.”

 

It is much healthier to name and own our own feelings of disappointment and anger and frustration and weariness. That is an act of self-compassion. And being compassionate to ourselves creates the capacity to be compassionate to others.

Brown says:

 

So, let’s stop ranking suffering. There’s enough love and empathy to go around. Putting ourselves down because we’re struggling, but have it so much better than others right now, can kill our empathy for others. What’s helpful is perspective. Complaining is okay, letting ourselves feel these hard emotions is important and mandatory to be empathic people, but we can also piss and moan with a little perspective. Hurt is hurt, y’all. And every time we honor our own struggle and the struggles of others by responding with empathy, the healing that results affects all of us.

 

As it gets colder and the days grow shorter and the pandemic threat increases and we have no choice but to re-imagine how we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, remember that it’s OK not to be OK. God walks with us – the real, truthful, feeling-all-of-our-feelings us.

 

Have you ever engaged in comparative suffering? What are some of the emotions you are feeling this Thanksgiving week?

 

-Written by Amy Miracle

 

 

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