Today’s journal prompt is a weird one, but I am going to go with it anyway: “What was an improvement?”

As I was watching the sunset tonight, I was thinking about how I’ve had three very good days in a row, three days of joy, three days of being affirmed, three days of love and fellowship. Beginning with Indy Pride parade on Saturday right up through the most beautiful sunset this evening, I’ve experienced so much joy the past few days, that I have nearly had to pinch myself to make sure I am still living this life.

On Sunday, as I sat in church with my brother and one of my best friends, I heard a sermon that I needed to hear 27 years ago when I first came out of the closet. If you know me, you know I have a lot of things that I need to work on my life, and one of the biggest things I’ve been working on is self-love in regards to my queerness. So, on Sunday when the priest spoke about his experience at the Pride parade on Saturday, I couldn’t help but tear up a little when I heard these words:

“Within the parade, in the gauntlet between the barricades, I saw a constant movement of people, back and forth, to and fro. People darting out from the crowd to hug people they knew. We were walking in joy. But not walking for us. Walking for them. For all those people whose faces were bright with smiles or shiny with tears…and all because they heard someone say, ‘God loves you. No exceptions.’”

We all need to hear these words: “God loves you. No exceptions.” Because God does love you, no exceptions.

I have to think that three days of joy in a row is a vast improvement over the past few months where I’ve found myself not being able to see the good in this world, and the past few months have been a vast improvement over the past few years where I found myself not wanting to live to see the sunset each night. In fact, for so many days each week, just trying to find the energy to live, to leave the house, to make it through the day was a struggle.

In this past week, I have learned some pretty gut wrenching news, and I was able to work through intense anger, sadness, betrayal, disgust, and other emotions. After wrangling with God for a few hours while I meditated and prayed next to a lake, I was able to reach deep inside and extend compassion to the person who I perceived had wronged me. I was able to put myself in her shoes and think about how I would have handled the situation in a different scenario, and I was able to have my heartbroken and repaired and broken and repaired, until I was able to give grace.

The great improvement for me, right now, is being able to live in joy, recognizing all of the other emotions as they show up, feeling them, then moving through, and not dwelling in them. In short, I don’t feel like I am drowning every day, and I will take that as improvement every day of the week.

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