Thursday, November 22, 2007

In All Things, Give Thanks

Truly, one of the hardest commandments. This has not been a year full of abundance in my life, and I have not spent most of my time feeling grateful, to be quite honest. I have, instead, felt more loneliness, despair, confusion, worthlessness, anxiety, and disappointment than almost any other time in my life. This year has been hard, plain and simple.

The other day when I was out for my walk, pushing Conor in the stroller up Wentworth Avenue, I struggled for the last three blocks, as the street becomes increasingly uphill. I had set a goal of reaching Mt. Gleason Street, but many times I heard whispers as my legs burned and my heart pumped: "Just cut down one of these side streets and head back home. At least you got out here today. It's not going to make that big of a difference." But I trudged on, utterly ticked off and sweating. I just want to be in shape again! I don't want to have to do all this stupid walking up these stupid hills, pushing this heavy baby. The last hundred feet or so is very steep as it makes a final climb before leveling out. Something in me kept taking one more step. I braced myself behind that stroller, with arms straight out and leaning over into the pushing, I finished the climb. The thought occurred to me that though the entire walk up Wentworth is difficult, it's the last several yards that are the hardest and the steepest, and always the ones I'm most proud to have walked. And then, I get to turn around, and walk effortlessly (for a while, anyway) downhill.

Life is especially hard right now. Steep and challenging, and the voice whispers almost daily to just quit. Take a side street and get off the course. In the meantime, I tell myself that I set out to do this, darn it, and I just keep taking another step.

Our family was together this year for Thanksgiving. Four of my husband's siblings came as well, and everyone had a lovely day. I worked my tail off and the food was incredible, but I didn't feel as full of gratitude as I felt full of dressing and pumpkin pie. I faked it just fine, but to those who know me best (apparently no one in this house), the fact that I used "very nice" disposable plates and cups would have been a dead giveaway that something was off.

I must feel gratitude before I go to bed. I need to feel gratitude before I go to bed.

So this year, I'm grateful that my legs work in the trudging, that I haven't yet listened to the voice and taken a side street detour, and that I have enough faith to believe that the downhill must be coming up soon.


Luisa Perkins said...

Your persistence and determination are such an inspiration to me. Sometimes it's hard to feel grateful when you're the head worker bee, the Martha, who is 'careful and troubled about many things.' I hope you find some rest and peace in the aftermath!
PS? I'm proud of you for using paper plates. THAT was being kind to yourself.

Hannah said...

I love you Jenna!!!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I have heard that voice so very many times over the course of the last few years. There were even times when it was if that was all I could hear. It is such a struggle not to give in to it, and every time you don't is something to be thankful for. And in this case, something for me to admire the heck out of you for. I don't know what your struggles are, but I know what it feels to struggle.

I agree with Luisa though. The paper plates are something to be proud about. Sanity above aesthetics, every time.

Don said...

I hear those same voices constantly these days, and it's very tough not to listen to them. And like you, I'm waiting for the downhill - any day, now...

Thanks for sharing this bit of inspiration.

Momo Fali said...

Hang in there. I'm grateful for YOU!

Annette Lyon said...

My heart breaks reading this. I'll cross my fingers with you that your downhill is coming, and fast.