As a child, I was taught to face adversity head-on, to be brave and cheerful and do the best I can. If I was brave enough, and maintained a positive outlook, and meticulously did what I could, I would be given enough strength and faith to face whatever life dished out.
My grandmother told me that, matter-of-factly, with a Depression-era story of her mother patching the family's shoes with construction paper.
My grandmother came from a long line of strong, capable women. Her niece eulogized her sister by saying that she did the best she could. She faced up to her life with courage and a smile, gave her daughters a good start in life, and took care of the work before her.
That particular teaching holds the core of my faith. It's what makes it possible to do the best I can and trust God (or whoever's on duty that night) to take care of the rest.
Many times, facing some dark night of the soul, I've scraped the bottom of the barrel for the dregs of my faith. Sometimes, I can't come up with much, but there is always just enough. Just enough to get through the night. Just enough to see me through to the next helping hand, the next oasis, the next spiritual pit stop.
Broken-foot nights can be bleak. Dark thoughts of my uselessness, my restlessness, my intense boredom cross over and tinge other areas of my life with despair. As I try to get my body comfortable, my heart tosses and turns as well.
And yet, the dark nights have gifts, if I wrestle long enough with them. After I've traveled through the alleys of despair, I discover that I've carried my faith and my courage with me all this way. They're what kept me going at my bleakest moments, what wiped the tears from my eyes and the snot from my nose and told me to get on with it.
Suddenly, a flash of gold in the gloom: the grandmotherly kindness that insisted I learn to be brave and cheerful and do my best.
When you are down to what you can carry in your heart, it's good to know you have something that can carry you through the night.