|See? Red dirt IS weird!|
Oddly enough, though, one of my most defining memories for the trip wasn't until the last day we were there.
We visited a church with our friends that we've been to before, and the entire experience is worth recounting. Just a snippet will do, though.
We headed to Sunday School (do they still call it that?) with our friends. It was a little awkward, but we had been in the class before. We climbed the stairs and entered after they finished praying (because we were late, but who's counting?). As we searched for seats, none of the people in the class seemed to mind that they were being intruded upon by strangers. They were ready to learn, share, and grow, regardless of our presence. And I'm so thankful for that.
We took our seats, and the topic of discussion for the morning was rather routine: "What are you thankful for?" Naturally, after celebrating a holiday of American imperialism and over-indulgence, we have to give ourselves a pat on the back for how awesome we are, right? Thankfully, though, that wasn't the course that this discussion took.
It was amazing to listen to this class disclose their lives to me, a stranger (and one who blogs, at that!). We went around the room, sharing what we were grateful for, and out of the fifteen or so people in the room, not a single one said, "I'm thankful that we have money," or "I'm thankful we have a nice car."
Instead, time and time again, people rehashed how thankful they were for their families. For the class we were sitting in. For their health.
And that one hit me hard. Almost every single person in the room who went before me was thankful for good health. And as they talked about how their families were in tip-top shape health-wise, I'm sure they didn't realize how frustrating that was to me. How much I miss being healthy.
But ruminating on past losses wasn't the point of the exercise, so I tried as best I could to fight it through with God in that little time I had. I wrestled with him, in front of friends and strangers in a strange place with red dirt, and I think I won.
And by "I won," I mean, "He kicked my butt."
You see, I have health. I can walk, for the most part. I can even exercise on occasion, and that feels great. What's not to be thankful for?
So that day, I told a room of strangers, without disclosing details, about my biggest insecurity. Though they may not have realized it, I shared a piece of myself in one simple sentence that I can hide from the rest of the world, if I please.
I said, "I'm thankful that I was able to climb the stairs today."
And I was. I was thankful that I was healthy enough to climb the stairs to get to that class. But more than that, I was thankful to be there, amongst a group who shares a bond of love that supersedes geographic boundaries. A group who was thankful in spite of the fact that, while they were praying as we arrived, tears of pain and brokenness were flowing.
So although I may have a particular distaste for the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving, its reminder is important to me, and I want to share that with you: be thankful always.
What are you thankful for today?