Tomorrow we will sit around tables filled with delicious food, surrounded by family and friends. We will count our blessings and give thanks. Tonight at mass, Father talked about counting our blessings. The gospel included the story of the 10 lepers which Jesus healed and only one returned to give thanks to Jesus for his healing. While we sat in the pews and thought about our blessings I couldn't help but drift into thinking about being grateful for my sufferings. Some day I hope to be able to write about my sufferings here but for now I will summarize it as a heavy, broken heart. I am on the other side of my suffering and I can speak with confidence that there is healing and growth on the other side of suffering.
We talk about strength when we face hard times. Dairy farming is full of hard times, difficult times, challenging times, but life is harder. Dairy farming creates people who are determined, persistent, resilient, tough, passionate and strong, but I would argue that strength is more than these. Strength found in suffering, which is the result of growth from the hard times and heartbreak, is vulnerability. It is compassion, kindness, and honesty. When I look back on my suffering, I am grateful for this growth that created the ability to be vulnerable. Being strong all of the time is hard and it can be cold. Being vulnerable is harder than being strong because it is real and you have to feel everything. The sadness is sadder and the happiness is happier, but that's the benefit, it is real. I look back on my sufferings, and there were some very dark days.
I chose to lean into the feelings and be completely vulnerable. I was vulnerable to the people that hurt me and I was vulnerable with God. I made my confessions many times, working hard to forgive myself, but when I look back, the biggest healing came from being vulnerable. I am so grateful for this suffering. If given the chance to live my life over again, I would do my suffering over again. Sure I would make different choices to avoid hurting people I love but I know the end result would be the same. If I hadn't leaned into the heart ache then I wouldn't have grown in the ways that I am today. I am thankful for the suffering, for my compassion, for my honesty, and for my vulnerability. It makes me real and it helps me live life to its fullest. Here I sit, reflecting on Thanksgiving, knowing if it wasn't for the suffering, I wouldn't have my second chances either, to live life to the fullest with the deepest love possible. Thankful and Blessed :)