Stepping across the line

So yesterday’s gratitude challenge was to set sail from our comfort zones and in doing so, find a new source of gratitude. Let’s be frank: I hate leaving my comfort zone. When I do so, I suddenly become prone to nervous blushing, hand-wringing and playing distractedly with my hair.

When I sat down today in a room full of homeless people, I am embarrassed to say I experienced all of the above. The worst part of it is that I am a bleeding heart, help-everyone-I-can type of person. Yet I pretend to help from afar, rather than actually interact with those in need of my help. This is probably why I’m a fundraiser. I want to do my part, but I don’t want to get my hands dirty.

But today, I dove in. I spoke with these amazingly resilient people about their housing needs, the lack of mental health care available to them, and how we can make sure everyone has access to the food bank. Was I out of my comfort zone? Absolutely. Did I leave with a newfound sense of gratitude? You bet.

It wasn’t the superior breed of gratitude that I think is far too common. Not the “I’m grateful because I have more than they do” type. It was genuine thankfulness for getting to have real conversations with incredibly interesting people who have experienced challenges I will most likely never face myself, and therefore never learn from without their help. I felt not only gratitude, but privilege.

So many of us stay in our comfort zones. We walk the dog in our own neighborhood; we socialize with coworkers; we even read the books our book club decides on. But what happens when we step out of our little bubble? We realize everything we’re grateful for is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s just a hint of what else we can find out there.

Good luck with this week’s gratitude challenge, and I hope you feel as empowered as I did today!


3 thoughts on “Stepping across the line

  1. When I was teaching creative writing at the jail, I used to say a little prayer about sharing my gifts in a way that would be beneficial to my students–but it was only when I started praying “help me to open my heart and mind to the gifts that these women have to share with me” that my service deepened and I learned to be a humble and more grateful servant. Love your blog and your process!

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