Let’s be honest. Sometimes life is just rough, am I right? Nothing goes the way you want it to, no one cooperates the way they should, you can’t find a moment’s peace, you can’t catch a break, you can’t figure out what to do and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m sure you’ve experienced any or all of these things at some point in your life. And if you’re like me, it makes you want to hide away from the world, forget about life and just find something to do that makes you happy. (Which I’ll admit can sometimes be therapeutic but is never sustainable for long. 😉 )
I like what C.S. Lewis says about this:
Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.
I am struggling right now. But Lewis and others with helpful things to say pull me out of the pits and remind me of the kind of person I want to be. So here are my musings, maybe they can be helpful to you as well.
Today I’ve been thinking about the things I’m thankful for. Partially because it’s Thanksgiving week and it seems appropriate to be thinking of such things and also partially because I’m not doing too well at the moment, but I’m pretty content where I am. Which, I’m not going to lie, is a bit shocking to me. Because I have struggled with being discontented off and on my whole life.
Let me explain what I mean by “not doing too well”. I have been looking for work for two and a half months with no luck. I was working a job in the summer after my return from Colorado but they didn’t need me once September rolled around and I have been job searching ever since. I would have thought that I could have found one by now but, no such luck. I’ve literally applied for everything from “bookseller” to “dog-watcher”. I’ve sent out resumes, followed up with phone calls, gone to speak to managers in person and nothing has worked out. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few odd jobs on the side that provide me with a little gas money and I’m grateful for those.
But the reality is that my car needs new tires, a headlight, a new ceiling liner, some serious spot removal in the carpet and a heater. I literally drove back from my mother’s house this morning wearing a big fluffy sweater and a blanket over my legs. Listening to speeches from Emma Watson to distract myself from the prickling cold in my toes and fingers and on the tip of my nose.( As soon as I got home I went and took a hot shower to thaw out my frozen appendages.) I also am running dangerously low on shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant. No close toed winter shoes, no jeans warm enough for this weather we’ve been having, no money for Christmas (which is pretty sad because I LOVE buying gifts for people ), and the worst part is I am THREE phone bills past due. Bleh.
(I want to say by the way that I’m not writing all of this for pity or support. It is quite explicitly for the purpose of being open and honest with you. Because I so highly value that in other people.)
Now, I know that there are others who have it a lot worse than I do. (Trust me, I tell myself that every day. 😉 ) But it doesn’t mean that this isn’t difficult, it just means that I can deal with it.
And this is where the contentment comes in.
I am at the very end of Corrie Ten Booms “The Hiding Place” and am about to start a book called “Band of Brothers”. I’ve heard what people say about these books but I wanted to know for myself what they truly held, so I picked them up. Just in these two stories alone I have learned of suffering that I couldn’t come close to imagining. Just reading “The Hiding Place” made me happy to have my family healthy and whole and all together, whatever problems we might have.
I’ve also been learning a lot about WWII in general over the past few months. All the different aspects of the war and all the different stories from all over the world. It’s just absolutely fascinating to me that it touched so many lives in so many different countries. People all over the world, men and women, Germans and Englishmen, troops and political leaders, Americans and Deutschemen, shopkeepers, nurses, military generals, religious leaders, Japanese and French people, the president, the prime minister, the king of England..the list goes on. No matter who you were, if you lived during that time you had to make a choice. And eventually your choice would come to fruition and you had to be brave enough to hold your ground, to fight, to suffer, to console, to grieve, to rejoice, to know that good would win in the end. It was an immensely trying time for all who were involved. And you and I have probably been raised in part by people who saw it with their own eyes.
As difficult as life may be right now, I couldn’t let myself be self-pitying, because of these people whom I have learned about and come to love. It’s one thing so say it though, and another thing entirely to feel it. But I do feel it, at least for right now. And I think it’s because I unknowingly cultivated this gratefulness within myself over these past few months just by reading and dwelling on the stories of these wonderful people. And I am immensely grateful for that.
But even when I don’t feel it. When I really just wish things would get better and stop being so difficult, I’ll remind myself of people like Eugene Roe and Betsie Ten Boom. I’ll make a list of things I truly am thankful for, I’ll write out words that these people have said and put them on my wall to remind me, I’ll make every effort to do my best with what’s been given, and I’ll trust that God can see what I cannot, that I don’t have to know exactly where everything will eventually come from.
Thankfulness is a choice. Not solely an emotion.
Here’s what I’m thankful for right now :
I currently have loads of free time for reading. And I love that.
I have virtually no overhead. I don’t buy my own groceries at this point or pay any bills ( other than my phone ).
I am fortunate enough to have my own space which I can use to inspire, rest well in, study if need be, have a movie night in, read in and reside in when I need time alone.
I have a car that can get me to and fro. ( Despite the aforementioned issues. )
I am getting to know my grandmother better than I ever have since I’ve been living with her for the past few months. And better than I would have if I had never lived here.
My two nephews and brother and sister-in-law are literally right down the road. So I can visit them anytime, and I really do enjoy visiting them. ( They’re even so close that if I decided to save my gas, I could walk there. : ) )
I have another year to spend with my family before I go to school.
I have never been so sure of myself as an individual as I am now.
I’ve had the privilege of learning from and under some of the most loving and intelligent educators I’ve ever had the privelage of knowing.
I’ve discovered stories that inspire me. ( I literally don’t know what I’d do without these inspirations.)
Oh, and it’s the Holiday season. That’s always delightful.
What are you truly thankful for?