Last week, my agent told me I was a walking contradiction. A sex-positive feminist building an army to deconstruct rape culture. An erotic romance editor who teaches Sunday school. A brutally dark writer who watches Nicholas Sparks' movies. None of these things feel contradictory to me, but I suppose from the outside they might. To me, there are no absolutes, and the more you know about people, the more you realize we're all contradictions in one way or another.
So. This post is going to be about gratitude and faith. And if you don't believe in God, that's okay with me. I stay on my own yoga mat as a general rule, but I also try my best to tell the truth about my life. And this is what I'm thinking about today.
We're going into Thanksgiving and Christmas and I'm admittedly very sentimental about the holiday season. I can't wait for Christmas music to air on the radio. I start knitting in early November to make teacher gifts, etc. I watch the holiday Hallmark movie every Sunday. I start prepping my kids for the Christmas Eve pageant.
Part of the reason I hang on to the holidays is that it includes traditions my sister and I started when we were kids and I'm grateful to pass those on to my own kids. For me, the holiday season is sort of a protected time. Which is strange because a year ago, we were dealing with kindergarteners shot in Connecticut, and I was dealing with the death of one of my best friends from college. So I guess the truth is: there's no protected time, not really.
And yet, I can't help but be grateful going into the next month. Grateful for my family, my friends, my job. Grateful that dreams can happen. Grateful that I've found a supportive community of writers who understand me.
Yesterday in church, our pastor talked about being grateful even in the hardest times. About taking grace and faith with you when faced with darkness. To be honest, this is not my inclination. I've always thought God was with me when I was at my best, not my worst. For me, gratitude is knowing that the gifts of my life aren't really mine and that when I'm given a gift, I need to acknowledge it's by the grace of God.
And to be really honest, when Michael died a little less than a year ago, I wasn't looking to God for solace, I was looking to God in anger. YOU let my friend down. He needed someone and I wasn't there, and neither were YOU. But of course, that's not how it works. We don't pick and choose the times we are protected. We are and we aren't. This doesn't have to do with God, it has to do with us. Our humanness.
Two days ago, I said to a friend: "Most of the time, I can't imagine that God is down here with me in the dark. I look up and think, can I ever make it out? Can I ever get closer?" But then, my friend said, "Of course He is. It's all inside. If you're quiet, if you still yourself, if you turn inwards, you'll feel Him. He doesn't ever leave." And of course, my friend is right. And I'm grateful for that. But I am still me, so I couldn't help but reply, "You mean She."
Happy Thanksgiving, friends.