G is for Gratitude

“Maybe we had to come back to realize we don’t have to come back.”
It was a comment an old friend of mine made at a party during our undergraduate homecoming weekend. I thought and later told her if I were married I would not be here. She agreed. Then I thought to myself, “why does having a husband become the thing that gives me permission?” I could not come to any reasonable explanation, and unsettled with the thought that I was succumbing to “if thens”. I decided to leave. Why was I leaving, everyone wanted to know. The only answer I had was, “because it’s time.” And the answer would be true on levels far beyond the superficial.

Perhaps the greatest gift I’ve given myself is the gift of discernment. The ability to hear the difference in what seems right and what is right. Learning what the voice of God sounds like has been my green light. I move to that voice, and when it is silent I wait to hear it. It is a hearing that resounds through the entire body reverberating off the bones and calling the muscles into action. It is a sound that only gets louder the longer you wait to react to it. That voice can become deafening if ignored, and it is why I’ve found to hear it early–far beneath the noise and pulse of the world.

Each and every morning, I wait. In my moments of still I run down the list in my head. “Thank you for my family. For that red light yesterday that made me late for work but arrive just in time to get a parking space. For the man who broke my heart and gave me the opportunity to learn my own strength.” It goes on like this sometimes for an hour. This morning it sounded like “thank you God for giving me the courage to leave when it was time for me to go.” Yes, it was only a party I was leaving. However, I’ve long since had an issue with leaving. I hold on. I grasp tight. I run through scenarios which amplify the necessity of my presence and I ignore my intuition in favor of comfort. But now I could peacefully go–I know what happens at the end of a night like that. I know the stories the stops for food, the laughter, the aching feet and legs. And while fine, it simply was not where my joy lay anymore. So the smallness, the tiny bit of gumption it took to leave that party means something. It means I’m learning not to hold so hard to the things that it’s time to let go of.

It is not only the big things that beget thank yous. It is also the small things. The million and one pieces of your day that individually feel insignificant but collectively shape your entire existence. Gratitude is not just good health, a loving family or money in the bank. Gratitude is also the mistakes. The wrong man. The eight hour traffic jam. The flat tire. The leaking roof. The sick baby. Gratitude is all of it because each occurrence, no matter how small, is divinely crafted to get you where you need to be.

I heard it said that the battle we fight right now is preparing us for the thing(s) we prayed for. There is nothing I’ve been praying for more than guidance post-grad. How do I make this writing thing work? Simultaneously, I’ve been torn because one large part of me just wants to take a job and move back east. Back to the south where things make sense and where I feel I fit. However coming back here what I’ve realized is that I’ve been doing the same thing I was doing at the party. In my head, moving back home means friends means loved ones means a potential life partner and THEN if I have those things I can work on being successful as a writer. But no Jessica, give yourself permission to do it where you are with what you have, right now.

There are no perfect times or circumstances. We create those moments with a decision. A decision that is firmly planted in the present and watered with the grace of acceptance–right now is all there is. In its imperfection. In its loneliness. In its hunger. In its discomfort. In its struggle. In its silence and stillness and waiting. In its preparation. In its possibility.

Gratitude is a prayer for the present. It is looking around your life and having the often overwhelming knowing of all the people, places, and things that have gotten you to where you are. It is the foresight of your possible trajectory and the ease of understanding how that path may change. It is a surrender to a more sophisticated reasoning than our own logic. It is a smile under rain clouds and the feeling of home on an unknown road. Gratitude is when we understand just how much has been conspired on behalf of our betterment. And when we stand in full knowing of that, tears can fall, hearts can swell and the only appropriate words are Thank You.

This post is part of The Layers of Self-Discovery Tour created by GG Renee of All the Many Layers. Follow the tour through the blogs of 26 women exploring the complexities of womanhood and self-discovery from A to Z. Click here to keep up with each post and enter to win a giveaway package full of goodies for your mind, body and soul. #LayersAtoZTour

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15 thoughts on “G is for Gratitude

  1. “Gratitude is a prayer for the present.” I love this line! What a beautiful, concise way to define gratitude. It’s hard to remain thankful if we’re focused on the past or future and it’s difficult to be grateful for the future when we don’t know what it holds for us. In order to be truly thankful we have to recognize and find beauty in the present. I enjoyed reading this post and will be back 🙂

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Jess. Gratitude has saved me from self-pity so many times, and as I read through your words, I was reminded of the never-ending power of a heartfelt thank you. Sometimes, that thank you is specific, like the red light you mentioned, and other times, it’s a general feeling and expression of gratitude for all the things that go right in my world. This post felt like my favorite socks, fresh out of the dryer; now I’m giving you gratitude for that feeling 🙂

  3. “I heard it said that the battle we fight right now is preparing us for the thing(s) we prayed for.” So true and very timely for me. We often have no idea the magnitude of our prayers until they are answered. Answered prayers are scarier than unanswered prayers.

  4. “I’ve long since had an issue with leaving. I hold on. I grasp tight. I run through scenarios which amplify the necessity of my presence and I ignore my intuition in favor of comfort.” Phewwwww!!! this is SO me! I even wrote a short post about it recently. I have had to learn of late to leave the damn party before it stops being fun. That it’s okay to change course and to be a little bit uncomfortable in the moment, in favor of my long term good.

  5. I really love this post. I can’t really put into words why… and although the theme is gratitude, it’s what you have written about letting go that most resonates with me. The fact that sometimes letting go does mean a period of loneliness and uncertainty and often it’s the avoidance of those feelings that causes us to hold on tightly to people, things or circumstances that no longer serve positively in our life. For me it’s also about accepting that letting go is not the consequence of a bad decision. Sometimes it’s just time.

    1. So well put, sometimes it IS “just time” and there is nothing wrong with that. You cant catch something amazing if your hands are full of something stale. Thank you for reading!

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