Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude begins each of my weeks in writing. For today, I want to express how grateful I am for my dear friends Tom and Bill, a couple who recently just married after 30 years of being together.

For what seems like ages ago now, I had the pleasure of first meeting Tom at a social group that’s here in Toledo. My partner and I had been looking to make new healthy friendships with other people in the area and found this men’s group that did food and coffee socials on a weekly basis. At that outing I first met Tom, I learned he had a partner of many years named Bill and not too long after that, the four of us began hanging out.

It’s been several years now since our first couple’s hangout together and it’s truly been a blessing to have them in my life. They both make me laugh quite often and most definitely know how to lighten my mood. There was one night I went over to their house for a meal not too long ago, where I felt so exceptionally depressed. But, it didn’t take long for the two of them to find a way to lift my spirit like they always seem to find a positive way to do.

One thing I really love about these guys is how much they enjoy the quiet downtime in small social settings. Like Chris and I, Bill and Tom traditionally prefer our couple’s hangout as compared to going to parties or bars. Up until these COVID times, we were regularly going out to dinner and would traditionally end each of our evenings at one of our homes playing cards, usually Euchre. Over the past few months though, in light of all the social distancing, we’ve spent more time at each other’s houses cooking meals instead and have even started playing another card game now, that being Hearts. It’s become a weekly thing for the four of us to spend time together and it’s something I’ve come to really look forward to.

There are plenty of other things about Bill and Tom that I love beyond their humor. They have a wonderful sense of hospitality, have opened their homes to Chris and I on a bunch of holidays including Christmas, have consoled both of us during hard times, have frequently reached out over the phone just to check on us, they’re great huggers, amazing cooks, and well, they’re just those type of people you find yourself wanting to be around because they welcome you in as if your family.

While I’ve truly struggled much in the Midwest making friends, I haven’t had to struggle at all when it comes to my connection to Bill and Tom. While both like to pick on me, there’s a level of love and care that comes along with it, that makes it far different than others who have picked on me at my expense. I can actually see Tom grinning right now as he reads this, because he has this overly dry sense of humor that I know only comes from that soft spot he has in his heart for me! Right Tom? 🙂 As for Bill, well, Bill reminds me a lot of me, especially in his level of energy and the fact that he’s in touch with his inner child like I am. We both tend to be pretty goofy much of the time around each other.

From Bill’s explosive laughter to Tom’s southern drawl, I’ve grown quite fond of the two of them in so many ways. Handsome, charming, and truly great friends to Chris and I, I’m thankful to know they’ve finally tied the knot after 30 years! I’m so grateful to be a part of their lives and just wanted to dedicate this week’s Grateful Heart Monday to them, because my life is far better in Toledo having them a part of it!

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Listen. People start to heal the moment they feel heard.” (Cheryl Richardson)

Quote #2

“Sometimes you need someone to be there for you. Not to fix the problem or offer advice or do anything in particular, but simply to be there. To show up. To be present with what you’re feeling. To see what you’re going through. To see you, understand you.” (Unknown)

Quote #3

“Many times, people just want your ear, not your voice.” (Rob Kish)

Bonus Quote

“Stay to yourself, just listen. Do more listening than talking. They more you speak, the higher the chances you sayin’ the wrong thing…” (Curtis Jackson)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“I’ve heard that no matter what you’re going through, someone has it worse. I don’t like that statement. I’ve never liked it. It’s emotionally dismissive, and it teaches us our personal struggles are insignificant. So, we hide, and we refuse to cry out, and we try not to burden others with our pain. Someone might have it worse, true. But we are all broken, and we are all human, and we are never alone.” (Sarah Beth McClure)

A long-distance friend of mine texted me one day recently and asked if I was free to catch up with them over the phone during an hour-long drive I was on to see another friend I visit each week. I wasn’t in the right headspace to have a conversation with them that day due to my health issues and how heightened my mental and physical suffering felt. So, I politely declined via return text, letting them know I wasn’t in the best headspace and was having a rather difficult day. I told them I didn’t want to risk getting into any heavy conversation (as many of my prior conversations with them often tend to get that way). I then asked for prayers and said I loved them, hoping they would understand. What I got in return was a message that reminded me how I had a car that had gas, with good tires, and insurance, along with a legal license, and how I was on the road to visit a friend who was looking forward to spending time with me to have a decent meal together. All of which was followed with “and you’re in bad headspace, yep, you definitely need some prayers.”

At first, I was extremely vexed at their response, and responded via text that carried much of that tone. Later, after talking it through with my partner, as well as the friend I had visited, I simply was left feeling quite sad. Sad for the amount of people that have often done this to me, whenever I’ve shared with them about the pain and suffering I continue to go through.

This experience reminded me of Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, who in the Bible showed up just after Job had gone through a tremendous amount of loss and was now sitting in great pain and suffering. They initially offer him comfort that lasts for about a week and then proceed to start lecturing him about all the things he has either done wrong to lead to his pain and suffering or is currently doing wrong that’s making it remain. Thankfully, God eventually has the last word, and strongly reminds Job’s friends how none have spoken any truth whatsoever.

What my friend and so many others never seem to understand is that reminding a person going through great pain and suffering of all that they should be grateful for, or reminding them of all those who are far worse off in their own pain and suffering, doesn’t offer the sufferer any comfort or relief that they’re desperately seeking. It truly is emotionally dismissive. I’m sure all those out there who have experienced great pain and suffering, especially those who have for long periods of time, would agree.

Nevertheless, minimizing someone’s pain and suffering by comparing it to others who may be suffering worse or attempting to point out where gratitude should be instead, isn’t being compassionate, or unconditionally loving. It’s being judgmental and saying one’s personal struggles are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

So, the next time someone opens up to you about their pain and suffering, even if they’ve done it countless times before, if you feel the need to say anything, just let them know you love them, as saying anything else is more for your own benefit than theirs, and probably only coming from your ego and not your heart…

Dear God, may I always have unconditionally loving words of support for anyone who may ever open up to me and share about any of the pain and suffering they’re going through. 

Peace, love, light, and joy
Andrew Arthur Dawson