I am speaking in a few weeks at an advent service, and the topic I've been asked to talk about is our attitude. How can our attitude affect our lives?
In light of the upcoming holiday season, with all of the stressors and emotions connected with it, I decided to take a good long look at my own attitude and where it's going.
I certainly have a lot to be thankful for when I sit down to a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. But there is going to be an empty place at the table. My grandma, who I've spent nearly every Thanksgiving with, won't be with us. She's feasting at the table in Heaven this year.
Her death has left a huge hole in our hearts. Although she was ready to go when she passed away in April at the age of 91, we weren't ready to let her go. I don't think you're ever ready to completely let go. So my latest question has been how am I going to get through the holidays without her, and have an attitude of joy?
Joy, as I have often said in my talks and writings, is different from happiness. Joy is something that lies deep within us and that endures, even when our circumstances aren't happy. Joy doesn't depend on your circumstances; instead, it can thrive despite your circumstances.
Having joy in my heart doesn't mean I won't grieve. It doesn't mean I'm going to put on a smile and a "happier than thou" attitude. I won't fake my way through the day, or the weeks to come. But through grief, I know deep down that while I may hurt now, there is hope. I will see my grandma again. I'll sit at the table with her some day, and feast. Jesus is saving me a place. And because of that, even though my heart is hurting, I am not filled with despair.
God-willing, I will get up on Thanksgiving morning and watch the parade with my kids. I'll prepare a few side dishes and take them to my parents, where we will sit down to a wonderful home-cooked meal. When I see my grandma's place empty, I'll probably cry. But at the same time, I'll be sitting across from my dad, who has been healed of cancer. I'll be sitting next to my boys, who are the lights of my life. I will eat my mom's good home-cooked meal (prepared allergy-free, just for me) and toast my husband of 21 years. I'll be able to look out the window at my very old, but very lively horse, and know that all is good.
My grandma gave me memories. She made me home-cooked meals. She was the first to open up her farm to my horses, which became a big love of mine. She taught me about family, and love, and life. My grandma spent a lifetime loving me and nurturing me, and I would do her a disservice if I let my grief drown me. Part of who I am and what I am, is because of her.
So Nanny, in your honor, I'm all about attitude this November. I'm going to rejoice and hug my family members, and eat a hearty meal. I know you'll be smiling down at me.