I am one of those people….the person with the “life is good” sticker on the back of her car, the one who’s coffee mug says “half full” and who’s currently wearing a shirt that says “happy camper”. I’m the one who sings the “rise and shine “ song from church camp first thing in the morning – much to the chagrin of my wonderful not-so-morning person husband and my half-asleep kids. I’m the person who in our house reminds us before meals to offer up one thing we’re thankful for from the day, and the one who even on my crankiest, most exasperated, most frustrating days finds myself most days hitting my “reboot button”. I’m like this on the outside because on the inside I believe in gratitude. I believe in gratitude not because life is always easy or good, but rather because in fact life is often difficult, hard, and even exhausting….and yet is beautiful nonetheless.
This belief was made very real to me at a young age as I grew up with both the “beautiful and the messiness of life” in my own house. One on hand, I was the product of one hard-working, steadfast parent who taught me by example the virtues of commitment and responsibility, faith and friendship. My dad taught me how to fix my own car and just about anything else, how to value a life of learning and appreciate a good book, and most importantly what it meant to live a life committed to God and to the church. But the other side of the coin was very different, and through the anger and volatility of my mom I gained a different set of life-skills. I learned as a youth how to quietly sneak out the house at night to find peace, how to make friends with people who had spare couches and how to navigate the landmines of an unstable parent. I learned like many others do, how to talk around public conversations that would reveal that I lived with someone whose illness robbed her of her mind and whose anger shut the door to her heart. And while it’s made for a difficult story in certain chapters, that rocky path taught me that life can be just as beautiful in the valley as in the mountains. It showed me how to give thanks on the days when it rains as well as those when the sun shines.
One of my favorite bloggers once said, “a crisis shakes things up until we are forced to hold on to only what matters most.” For me, what’s left when the crisis, the loss or the grief of our lives has taken hold and shook everything else off? Gratitude. Gratitude for a God who loves us as beautiful and worthy people filled with promise. Gratitude for family and friends who help us live life with humor, love, grace and second chances. Gratitude for the chance to start each morning anew. I believe in gratitude, and that deep, authentic, sincere gratitude is the product of an imperfect, messy, and beautiful life. It’s birthed out of hope and from it comes joy, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a mobilizer. It calls us not just to sit still and admire the view, but to realize that with every new morning comes the responsibility to care for others, to serve a world in need and give thanks to a God who loves us and reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. And with that in mind, nothing can keep me from singing, even if it is early in the morning.
Rev. Angela Kaufman serves as the Minister to the University and more recently also as the University’s Church Relations Officer, supporting connections between the church and the campus. She received her bachelors from TCU and her Masters of Divinity from the University of Chicago. Angie has been or is currently active on the boards of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, National Assoc. of College & University Chaplains, University of Chicago Disciples Divinity House, the TCU Wesley Foundation and the General Board for the church. She is the lucky other-half to her wonderful partner in crime and IT genius Jack and co-parent to two amazing, adventurous boys and a husky-shepherd mix named Bailey.