By WILL WHATLEY, Alabama Daily News
Oftentimes life can get overwhelming when you care a lot about things. Through my young adulthood, I tried not caring about things because caring meant feelings, feelings meant attachment, and attachment inevitably lead to loss. For near about 30 years I got by without caring too much. Sure there were heartbreaks, but looking back on them now I have to actively remind myself they happened for them to even register mentally.
Don’t get me wrong, I was appreciative of the many things I had in life. I never knew what it meant to struggle and the list of things my family was able to provide me is borderline embarrassing. I loved riding a wave runner around Lake Martin and appreciated I had the opportunity to do so, but that wasn’t a privilege I earned on my own. Moreover, it was the sort of thing that many people did without and got by just fine so yes they were fun and I appreciated them but they weren’t necessary. And because we had what was necessary, it was easy to find myself taking things for granted.
After about 30 years of having a “whatever” attitude, I met my wife. Life hadn’t been easy for her. In fact, her mother had died less than two weeks before a friend set us up. After finding out what she was going through and was excited to be with me was frankly something that I had never experienced. She was the first person I knew so well who’d suffered hardship, and yet she didn’t act like she was suffering when she was with me.
Her attitude affected me tremendously. Her personality was annoyingly optimistic while I was pretty much a nihilist. Over time, she eventually managed to show me it was okay to care, to be happy, to try and enjoy the good times because they aren’t always around.
It took me a while to learn to care. I was (and still am a little) obnoxiously stubborn and selfish, and it took me time to break old habits and build new ones. To say I was difficult to be around during this time would be a severe understatement, but for some reason my wife stood by my side. Because I was so stubborn and myopically selfish, it took me a long time to realize I had something more to appreciate: I finally had found someone who unconditionally loved me; I found someone who just wanted to make me happy; I found someone, something, to be thankful for.
After years of being difficult, to say the least, I knew what it was liked to be blessed. All I wanted to do was make her happy. And since she was a young child, she’d always wanted to be a mother. But things did not come easy there. After years doing literally everything we could, years of physical pain and mental anguish, we finally had a viable pregnancy. So we waited. And we hoped. And by God did we pray.
Then, on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018, on the same date that my beloved grandmother Janie Whatley had been born on in 1916, and of course two days before Auburn visited my gentlemen decked in Crimson, Joseph Stephen and Abigail Rose Whatley made their way into the world. Through the incredible love and support of our family and dear friends, we were able to experience a true, profound thankfulness that grows exponentially by the day. Through the tantrums and teething and dirty diapers and sleepless nights, we thank Him even for the hard times because they’ve made these good times all the more sweet.
It’s easy to fall into a trap of greed and self-pity, but we have been given an abundance of things to do more than just appreciate. As Thanksgiving approaches, I sincerely hope you find something for which you’re truly thankful. And I hope that you realize that someone in your life is thankful for you.