Hi sweet friend!
How are you?? Thanksgiving is THIS WEEK, can you believe it?
I have to be honest and tell you that Thanksgiving is not normally my holiday. It’s a good holiday, a fine holiday, but it’s just never been my favorite.
I have to be careful saying that around my house, because my husband Carl is a big fan of Thanksgiving. He’s even a little protective of Thanksgiving, feeling bad for it when he sees the whole world going from Halloween to Christmas virtually overnight.
But even though it’s never quite been my favorite, I’m EXTRA excited for the holiday this year because this year my whole family and Carl’s whole family are doing Thanksgiving together. We’ve never done it before, and it has all the makings of a Griswold family holiday, but I’m so excited to have so many people I love all in one place.
But while the holidays are right around the corner, and we have so much to be thankful for, I think we can all agree that the world doesn’t feel quite so festive these days.
In fact, it feels several shades of mad right now, like more bad news can’t possibly fit into the nightly news, and yet we somehow are cramming yet another tragic, terrifying story in. And then another, and then another.
It just feels heavy. Doesn’t it?
Something you may or may not know about me is that I’m super sensitive. I’m a crier, absolutely. Not only am I super sensitive, but until a few years ago, my sensitivity was something I hated about myself.
For years, I equated sensitivity with being high maintenance, needy, a lot of work, more effort than anyone would ever really want. I always felt like my feelings made me a lot to handle, and so I always wished I could get rid of them.
I wished I could be tougher, feel less, hurt less easily, I wished I had thicker skin.
And so for years, I tried to develop thicker skin. I covered up my tender heart with alcohol, and with boys — anything to make me a bit more numb, a little less prone to feeling all the things one feels when they wander through this messy, hard, wonderful world.
Have you ever wished you could feel less?
I had coffee with a new sweet friend last week and she said something I can’t get out of my head. She said, “Empathy is really, really hard.” And she’s absolutely right.
It hurts to hurt when the world hurts. It’s gut-wrenching to mourn when the world mourns, because it seems like there’s just so much to mourn.
It feels 10000x easier to turn off our feelings, to numb ourselves to the world, to care less, to just be less sensitive to it all.
But even though that’s the easier route, certainly, it’s not the better route.
We know it’s not.
In the years I spent numbing my heart and dulling my sensitivity, I lost so much.
Because you can’t numb yourself to the bad without numbing yourself to the good.
I saw a snippet of a conversation from Glennon Melton recently (my spirit animal, I swear. If you haven’t read Carry on Warrior, buy a copy this very instant!), and it said,
“Q: G, why do you cry so often? A. For the same reason I laugh so often. Because I’m paying attention.”
So often the things that feel like our greatest liabilities, the things about us that feel the hardest, are actually our greatest gifts and strengths.
My sensitivity may make me crumble when I watch the news, but it’s also my sensitivity that allows me to feel giddy over my sweet husband, or like my heart may explode with just how much I love my best friends, or the sweet anticipation of seeing all of my family all in one place this week.
It’s my sensitivity that helps me experience the world and then write about it.
It’s your feelings that make you a fantastic sister, friend, mom, wife. It’s your feelings that prompt you to care enough to help, to make a difference, to fight for people who can’t, to advocate for a cause.
Empathy may be hard, as my new friend pointed out. But she also pointed out that it’s the very thing that makes us human.
And so here’s my challenge for all of us in this season that feels simultaneously heartbreaking and joyful as the holidays are approaching — keep feeling.
Don’t numb your heart to the bad, because we need you to feel the bad. We need you to listen, to care, to act, to join in and give whatever you can to the people who need it most. Keep your heart tender and open so you can make the bad better, and so you can experience the heights of the good.
Because even when our world feels like it’s falling apart at the seams, there are still beautiful, wonderful, hopeful, glittery bits of life to behold and be held. And it would be such a shame to miss them.
So here’s to feeling this holiday season — to doing the hard, human work of empathy, and doing the deep loving that makes it all so worth it.
I love you sweet friends, and I’m wishing you the most wonderful Thanksgiving!
All my love,
P.S. I have a podcast episode all about navigating our feelings and emotions. I'll link it for you here: Girls Night #102: Feelings: How to Navigate Them, Manage Them, and Use Them for Good.
P.P.S. While we're on the topic of Holiday celebrations, here's another blog post that you might be interested in: Holiday Conversation Guide: How To Answer The Questions You Hope Nobody Asks.