It’s the week of Thanksgiving.
The holiday season is almost in full swing, the time of year that we are supposed to be filled with love and laughter and gratitude.
But sometimes, when we are in the middle of trauma, or even in years to follow when special dates and seasons have been tainted from the pain of the past, gratitude can seem like an elusive mist that we can’t quite grasp. We wave our arms about, trying to capture it, but all we end up with are empty hands and a feeling of failure in the pit of our stomach.
When our lives seem obliterated by loss too profound for words, where can we find gratitude?
I have been working Step 2: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
When I first came to SAL, I could definitely be described as a person who thought they could skip right over Step 2. From my perspective, I was already an expert on God.
I had been religiously religious all of my life, and much of my identity was woven into what I could say that “I knew.”
But then my life fell apart and none of the answers made sense anymore and my life didn’t fit into the neat, tidy, impressive boxes I had been trying to shove it into.
What a humbling experience to finally have to admit that I didn’t have all the answers, in fact, for a long time it felt like I didn’t have any.
Working the 12 Steps put me on the fascinating and surprising spiritual pathway to truly knowing myself. It turned out that the spiritual awakening I found was inextricably interwoven into the journey of truly knowing myself.
What is the connection between coming to know ourselves and coming to know God?
And what does all of this have to do with Gratitude?
For me, recovery has been and continues to be a beautiful, bumpy, and often surprising journey to know God.
In order to start on that journey, I had to reach a point where I became humble enough and honest enough to admit that I didn’t already see Him perfectly…that my perceptions might be off; that I, even I who followed all the rules, “see through a glass, darkly.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
As I work to dedicate my life, One Day At A Time, to have God at my center, I find that my most important task is to create a space of stillness inside of me so that there is room for Him to show me who He is.
This feels entirely different than “studying” to find passages to confirm to myself what I already think I know; to prove that “I am right,” or even trying to define Him with my logical mind.
Instead, this practice, rooted in Step 2 & Step 11, feels like this:
Slow Down. Breathe.
What am I feeling RIGHT NOW? Where in my body am I feeling it?
What is keeping me from serenity in THIS moment?
Is there something outside of my control that I need to surrender?
Is there something in my control that needs a boundary for myself or others?
Carve out time to journal, meditate, breathe, BE.
Practice the art of NOT THINKING.
In this stillness, the awareness arises that I am truly something more than the “story” of me: the sum of my characteristics, qualities, history, resume, achievements, position, possessions, even thoughts. There is something underneath all that, an awareness, that is eternal.
In this stillness I can actually feel the timeless being who I am and who I have always been, that transcends any temporary condition that may be clouding my path for the moment.
In this stillness, I can feel the absolute jaw-dropping miracle that it is to be alive, in this body, on this planet, breathing this air, living this life. Whether things are going smoothly or everything is a trainwreck…it is all a miracle and each and every aspect of this grand mortal experience was crafted for my experience, my growth, my learning, my journey to awaken to who He is and who I am.
“True salvation is fulfillment, peace, life in all its fullness. It is to be who you are, to feel within you the good that has no opposite, the joy of Being that depends on nothing outside itself. It is felt as not a passing experience, but as an abiding presence. In theistic language, it is to “know God”–not as something outside you but as your own innermost essence.” Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, p146
Where does gratitude live?
In Step 2.
In coming to “know” God One Day At A Time. When I have, just for a moment, cleared the cobwebs of my fear, insecurities, and ego, and can actually see Him as He is, and feel a piece of Him inside of me…there are no words.
There is just Love, and Light, and Peace…and GRATITUDE.
How do I self-check if God is at my center today?
When He is, there is an underlying feeling of Gratitude and awe that is present in everything I do.
This Thanksgiving and holiday season, you might shift the mentality of making gratitude lists of positive circumstances, and instead go straight to the Source of all Gratitude, Light, and Life.
Practice presence, mindfulness, and inner body awareness. Nurture your yearning to know Him and feed your “God-hunger.” Clear your opinions, perceptions, and judgements of who you and He are supposed to be, and make room for His truth.
Gratitude is not about getting what we want.
It is about really seeing who we are.
Find yourself and you will find Him.
Find Him and you will discover yourself.
And it will all become such a breathtaking miracle.
Gratitude lives in the present moment.
Gratitude lives in an Awakening You.