Walking Our Faith: The gift of gratitude
The movers came this week. They took all the tubs and boxes and the three dressers that belonged to my grandmother and shipped them to Maine, where they will go into storage until I am ready to move them into my new home.
I have two columns left to write. My last column, which will be published on Sept. 24, will find me driving on an interstate somewhere in Nebraska or Iowa.
I thought about how I wanted to end this column, to tie up loose ends as it were. In the end I decided I wanted each to express what I believe are the two most important lessons from my walk of faith: gratitude and love. This week I’ll start with gratitude and next week I’ll end with love.
I have found that gratitude is a healing balm that can assuage a broken heart or broken spirit, it is a Swiss Army knife I pull out in case of emergency.
One of the hallmarks of depression is a downward spiral of rumination, where one bleak though leads to another until I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of hopelessness. These negative thoughts can lead me to the lie that things will never get better, that there is no reason to hope.
In these moments, my Swiss Army knife, my rip cord to stop the descent, is to count five things I am grateful for, using the fingers of my hand. Childish? Perhaps. Especially for a writer.
But in the depths of depression, even the thought of picking up a pen and focusing my thoughts enough to write a list can feel too physically demanding. And so, usually while lying in bed, I will name five things for which I am thankful: 1) Mom, 2) Bear, 3) Kiki, 4) my faith, 5) Mass. And then I will start counting to five again until the darkness lifts.
I believe this works because the effort of calling to mind five things, perhaps the same five things I’ve counted countless times before, stops the downward spiral of negative thoughts. In their place, I recall things that are precious to me.
By saying thank you for things I already have, I give myself a small proof that hope in the future is not wasted.
This week there have been moments of ruminating thoughts. I have never lived in one place for more than seven years, so moving sight unseen to a new home is not new. However, this will be the first time I will move without the consoling knowledge that I could call Mom along the way. Without her, even if only at the other end of a phone call, I feel alone as I have not in the past.
So, there will be counting. But before I leave, I want to count here, thanking you for all you have given me in the last seven years.
I want to say a very heartfelt thank you to the editors of the Summit Daily News who allowed me to write this column over the last seven years: Ben Trollinger, Nicole Miller and Andrew Maciejewski. Writing this column has been the most meaningful career I’ve had and it brought me joy.
I want to thank the readers of this column who have sent me emails agreeing or disagreeing, but always kind. I will never forget the woman, a cashier at a local grocery store, who told me that she wasn’t religious and didn’t go to church but she read my column and was helped when I wrote about my decision to finally seek help for depression.
I’ve lived in “Alpine Breck” as it’s known, since I arrived seven years ago and because I am pretty much a hermit who rarely wanders further than downtown Breckenridge, my experience of Summit County is my experience of the people of Breckenridge.
So, I hope you won’t mind if I make a generalization by saying that the people of Summit County are the nicest people I’ve ever met, and this has been the best place I have lived in all my 60 years.
This is a community of kindness and generosity and fair mindedness. You allowed me to write about not only of my walk of faith but in very intimate terms, my life. By doing so, my personal faith journey has grown deeper and the writing about it has provided purpose to my life. I am very grateful to you, for that. Thank you.
P.S. I will continue to write and publish a weekly column on walking our faith after I move. I hope you’ll join me here: SuzanneElizabethAnderson.substack.com
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
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