Thankful, Grateful, Blessed.

“Hello everyone! Lisa (program coordinator) Here! I want to share some thoughts on something I experienced last month. Feel free to comment and join the conversation. This blog post comes from a place of vulnerability¬†and I trust that you will be open and honest with yourself surrounding this topic. ”

Last month many of you may have seen a Knoxville sting that led to the arrest of three individuals for soliciting sex. After the news was released with pictures my phone was suddenly ringing off the hook. I had text messages, voicemails, and social media comments all trying to reach me. Family, friends, acquaintances, and even people that I have met in the community were reaching out to me and CCAHT. What was the big deal? Why were so many people trying to reach me?

The big deal was that so many people who knew me thought I looked like one of the women who was arrested. Although, after a closer look they could tell it was not me, it was still startling.

I had a good laugh about all these people that thought I had a twin somewhere out there but later this experience made me sit and think. How lucky was I to be sitting on the other side of this situation? That could have easily been me.

I grew up in a middle-class family that did their very best to raise me in a safe and nurturing environment. Did my doppelganger have the same experience? Did she have the opportunity to go to school and pursue a higher education? Did she have a great support system around her when times got tough? All of these things were naturally given to me. I did not work for these things or ‘pull up my bootstraps’ to get them. I was blessed to be given the life I have. Have times been tough? Sure, but I have always had this strong background to hold me up. Without a strong foundation, I could have fallen at any time.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel so thankful for the things in my life that I have previously taken for granted. I cannot even begin to imagine the life that my look-alike has lived. I’m also reminded that we never really know someone’s story. It is possible that this other woman had a perfectly normal life and recently ran into some trouble. I will never know who she is or what her life looked like before the moment she was arrested. I’m reminded to keep an open mind about the people that surround me in my day to day life. That 55-year-old waitress that has a bad attitude or that homeless vet that asks for my spare change. Who am I to judge and say they haven’t worked hard enough or that they are abusing the system? There is absolutely no way that I could know their life and be the judge. All I know is that there are survivors of all sorts of situations that want our help. I look around and see suffering human beings and we just walk by. This Thanksgiving be thankful but also aware. Do not turn blindly away from the pain of another. Put yourself in another person’s shoes. If you feel thankful live it out with generosity and love.

Live thankful, grateful, and blessed.