You would think the question simple, yet the answer to what we are thankful for changes often with our mental state. Some days it’s what God has done or allowed me to experience internally, other times what maturity and time reveals externally. Where I focus, an appreciation grows if I am humble in my reflection of all that was, is, and can be. I think I am most thankful for the gift and grace of love, its reforming of my heart and mind, so that even in prison I may acquire a perspective that interprets from light not darkness. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I grew up searching for love and acceptance in those available, and what I found stripped away my dreams, hopes, and purpose.
A blind and broken boy, I wondered around lost, not knowing what was real or fake. Several decades later in prison I can see clearly why. It took God, family, friends, and a determination to heal in order to be what I was meant to be. It required digging, sharing, humbly revealing all that shamed and scared me when free. Today, I see a world that didn’t exist then, and that is one of understanding and compassion toward survivors of sexual abuse. Each story shared, voice allowed to take shape, and predator exposed, offers those beyond that nightmare a glimpse into an abused child’s mind. It is due to the diligent work of many devoted to helping the hurting that such advancements are made, and in time I know the world will see inside the prisons in a way that reveals what we all share. We all have the same needs, some met and some not, and the more that aren’t the less clearly we see, feel, and live. It takes grace to love the unlovable, the hurting that hurt others in ignorance.
Thankfully we all have a God that loved us even in our brokenness. May we all develop the mind and heart of Christ and in so doing, see ourselves in all that are outside the self. If all we ever see is from limited perspectives, then our thanks will remain self-centered instead of endless reflections of all that the Creator intended.
May God help us all love more in a world that needs it more than ever.