Beautiful Between

living fully in the now & not yet

Contentment: How Not To Be Lonely on Thanksgiving

Leafy Trail Radnor Lake

Thanksgiving looked different for me this year.  I couldn’t spend it with loved ones – Oregon is just too far, and I had just visited my sister to meet my new baby niece.  Being far from home can make for a tough holiday and an opportunity for extra loneliness to seep in.  I didn’t want to spend a sad day when I should be giving thanks.  I didn’t want to be alone.

So I spent the holiday at work, with 29 or thirty gathered to laugh and share thanks. I’ve never worked Thanksgiving before, and I’m thankful that, despite the pangs of distance from family and my dearest friends, I had a beautiful place to be.

I shared my day with someone has never spent a holiday apart from her family, prayed and laughed with her and watched her whole day brighten up. I discussed the finer points of checking the internal temperatures of five separate turkeys, and how to rescue the gravy when somebody accidentally puts in two cups of flour instead of two tablespoons.  I made memories.

We finally sat down to a table surrounded by brokenness and beauty and each shared what we were thankful for this year. I felt my heart swell and warm when they said they were thankful for us, for this place, for healing and love and wholeness that they never thought they could experience.

I wondered again how I ever got lucky enough to do this with my life. I’m thankful for coworkers who feel like family after two short months. I’m thankful to laugh and cry with young women encountering the freedom of Christ and the real, honest-to-God-good-news. I’m thankful to live a life of purpose and meaning, that isn’t just my own.

My turn came to share, and  all those thoughts were spinning around my head.  When I spoke, my sentiments were simple: I’m thankful for a job where I want to spend a holiday at work. I miss my loved ones, but I’m so grateful to love where I am.

I wonder if maybe this is the core of contentment, finding something worth gratitude even in imperfect situations.  After all, imperfect situations are the only ones we have.

6 Replies

  1. Leah Weybright

    While you were missed here, I am also thankful you have a place to belong. It has taken me many years to learn the “grow where you are planted” concept. I admire how you approach new beginnings with such grace and I am convicted at the same time. I haven’t been home for a Thanksgiving since moving here, and they do continue to get better, but I miss it so much!!

  2. I got to experience Thanksgiving for the very first time last year and it was great. If I have to do simil, it would be like expending Chistmas away from home. I am really glad you where able to find something to do and experience it with different people. Sometimes changing a little is good and I am sure you learned new things this years.

    Happy, late Thanksgivings, though!

  3. Randy Simmons

    Sarah Joy,

    Your Mom and I are so blessed to read this post that reminds us how blessed we are to know the women Christ has made you and Leah to become. In your life the Lord is blessing young women with hope they may not ever know in quite the same ways if they didn’t kinow you; in Leah’s life He is blessing Ben, Zack, Chloe, Hannah and all her friends and acquaintances in similar ways.

    Just know you are both loved and missed during these celebrations of joy…but that who you are in Christ blesses us both more than you probably imagine.

    Thank you both for being you,
    Dad and Mom

  4. Jaina

    Love this. Love YOU!

  5. Such a sweet story. I’m glad you found community and camaraderie for your Thanksgiving celebration. Where do you work? Sounds like a lovely place!

    After reading a few of your posts, you and I seem like kindred spirits. (I found you through your post on the FB page for Tribe Writers: Faith Writers.) I’d love to connect.

    1. Thank you so much, Merritt! I would love to connect and will definitely be checking out your blog. I work at Mercy Multiplied, which is a residential treatment center for young women struggling with life-controlling issues (eating disorders, addictions, depression, etc). It really is an incredible place. Can’t wait to connect more!

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