Thursday, November 24, 2016


Its Thanksgiving. I've been more of a whiner than a gratitude monger the last couple of years. Oh heck, I'll say it, I've been a big, grumbly baby.  Last week, we got some news that fell into the same category that so much news the last few years has: unsurprising, but still disappointing and terribly depressing.  In my less charitable moments, absolutely infuriating.  I'm tired of being unsurprised by disappointment.

So as I tried to refocus myself on what I'm grateful for (because it is an exceedingly long list), it seemed ironic to me that the first thing that came to mind was one of my own biggest personal frustrations the last couple of years (all of which are pathetically small compared to what my loved ones have dealt/are dealing with).

I love language. My mom made a comment about some of my schooling choices initially being surprising to her because "I've always thought of you as so language-driven".  I learned to read early and was almost instantly a voracious reader, gobbling up just about everything I could.  And even more, the things I've read cover a rather broad variety of subjects.  Consequently, I have a rather extensive vocabulary, and a fairly easy command of language (for a lay person).  Because of the diversity of social environments in which I've spent my life, I, more intuitively than consciously anymore, modify my vocabulary to my surroundings.  There are certainly individuals and groups where I find myself more comfortable (we'll not delve into my social anxieties today), but its exceedingly rare that I struggle to communicate with anyone.

Last year, I faced a period of time where all of that went away.  I struggled to communicate, to express myself.  I was jumbled and inarticulate.  I lost my words.  I've thought of myself as a writer since I was 10-years-old.  I knew I loved the world of language.  But until that moment, even I didn't know how much a part of my self-conception those abilities were. I hoped (and had good reason to hope) that it was temporary, but I had no way to know for sure that it would be--no one offered any guarantees that my words would come back to me.  It was immensely frustrating.  And a little terrifying.  I was depressed and demotivated.  I had to face the reality that I might no longer even be capable of being who I thought I was.

We have moments in life, large and small, that force us to face our definitions and conceptions of ourselves. And its scary when we find that we're not who we thought we were.  As I struggled to figure out who I was without one particular thing I thought essential to myself, I realized that I had always known.  I am a child of God, loved by the Lord, frailties, insecurities, cluelessness and all.  I long ago stopped caring very much at all what anyone else thought of me, my beliefs, my abilities or lack thereof, because the Lord's acceptance is so much more important and meaningful to me than anyone else's rejection.  While I care very much how I make others feel, these days I sincerely rarely even think about what they think of me, much less let it affect how I feel.  But I realized last year that sometimes I still let what I think of me get in the way of my relationship with the Lord and my personal progress.  I still invest too much pride in strengths that aren't mine to boast of, in weaknesses that aren't mine to fear.  Whatever comes, the Lord will empower me to do good things in whatever way he knows is best, and I need to better trust his judgment and his love.

I have many really wonderful people in my life, and I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for putting those people in my life, or me in theirs.  But more than anything, as I reflect on the last few years, I am grateful for his wisdom in placing one really big, obvious-to-me hurdle and weakness in my life, to draw my attention to others that I have been turning a blind eye to.  I'm grateful that, through the Atonement, I have the opportunity to repent and improve, all the while feeling the supernal love the Lord has for me.  I'm grateful that through the Spirit, I can know how to move forward and be better today than I was yesterday.

I'm thankful for progress, however small and incremental.

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