Unconditional Gratitude

Those of you who follow me on Facebook may recognize this post from a couple of years ago, but it best sums up what I'm thinking and feeling today, so I thought it was worth sharing again:

Growing up, I was taught the importance of unconditional love – that is, loving others exactly as they are, for exactly WHO they are – and in truth, I don’t know how to love any other way. It’s as natural to me as breathing. But this Thanksgiving, I find myself reflecting on something I don’t think about as often: unconditional GRATITUDE.

It’s easy to be thankful for the things that feel good, that are all bright and shiny and happy. But what about the things that are not – the moments of hurt, betrayal and loss, the feelings of fear, doubt, anger, sadness and hopelessness?

This past year has been the most challenging I’ve ever experienced. There were days when I felt such pain and grief and heartache that it felt difficult to even breathe. And yet, I’m grateful for every inhale and for every exhale – especially those accompanied by great, shuddering sobs. I’m grateful for every beautiful tear that I cried, and for every Kleenex used to dry them. I’m grateful for every moment in which my heart was shattered open, because it showed me how deeply I can FEEL.

I’m grateful for the challenges that pushed me out of my comfort zone – and for every person who reminded me that I’m brave enough to take the leap on my own, without needing a push. I’m grateful for every fear that gave me a reason to find courage this year and for every insecurity that forced me to take a deeper look at what is truth and what is just habit.

I’m grateful for every obstacle and supposed setback, because I eventually learned that they weren’t setbacks at all, but lessons and tools for me to take with me on my path. I’m grateful for every wall that was busted down – in and around me – that gave me more freedom to express my true, authentic Self. I’m grateful for the pain that gave way to my voice.

I’m grateful for the difficult times, because they made me who I am today and taught me more about my Self than the bright and shiny and happy things ever could. They showed me my strength and creativity and passion and endurance, and yes, my ability to love unconditionally – not just other people but myself.

Of course, I’m beyond grateful for all of the beautiful, joy-filled moments I experienced this year as well. But I suddenly realize that it was my darkest moments that gave me the most appreciation for the light.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving and a day of unconditional gratitude!