Last week, Jonathan and I went to Tennessee. We joked we were running away together and let ourselves get lost in the peaceful beauty of the Smokey Mountains and chocolate chip pancakes. People must have thought we were on our honeymoon with all the cheesy fun we were having everywhere we went. Each day that passed, I found myself wishing more and more that I could live that vacation forever.
Naturally, I wasn’t looking forward to the long drive back. Every mile we drove disillusioned me of my impromptu new life in mountains. Much to Jonathan’s dismay, I became, well, a brat. I was a brat that he was trapped in a car with for hours. All I could do was complain. There was no consoling me. Each of Jonathan’s attempts to comfort me was attacked with a scoff and a snitty remark. Poor guy.
In true Jonathan fashion, he didn’t give up. We kept passing signs for Ruby Falls, so he asked if I wanted to swing by it on our way home. We’d always had a waterfall theme in our relationship, so it was clearly a loving gesture to cheer me up. I gave him an annoyed retort that it was probably an hour in the wrong direction. He looked up the location, and with an apprehensive excitement, he told me it was only 20 minutes off our route. My response? “But, that’s really 40 minutes since we’ll have to drive back to the highway, plus all the time it’ll take to walk to and from the falls. It’ll probably waste two hours.” Yes, because there’s no bigger waste of time than spending two hours with your spouse. Like I’d said, poor guy.
“Let’s just try it,” he said, determined to conclude our vacation on a positive note. With a heavy sigh, I agreed. We drove to the falls in silence. I was mad at myself for being rude to him. He wasn’t the problem. My dread of returning home was the problem. My only redeeming quality was my acceptance of his falls proposal and allowing him to feel he was on track to “fixing me”.
We discovered that Ruby Falls is deep in an underground mountain cave and affectionately named after the discoverer’s wife, Ruby. With the exception of the preppy jock who insisted on stopping in front of us every three seconds to take a picture of himself, his girlfriend or something else that paled in comparison to the things we’d just passed, I enjoyed walking deeper and deeper into the mountain with the anticipation of seeing the falls.
We could hear the falls before we could see it. Suspenseful instrumental music played as we waited in darkness for the lights to reveal the 145-foot high falls. Suddenly, the music became triumphant and Ruby Falls was lit up like a Fourth of July sky. The sound of the falls drowned out all of the thoughts in my mind and even the sight of an underground waterfall couldn’t distract me from looking at Jonathan as he smiled at me. Though it would only last for a moment, he knew he had fixed me.
We’re all going to have times where we’re so caught up in our negative thoughts that people will struggle to snap us out of them. But, even if people can’t change our thinking, they can provide us with loving gestures that will make us feel better. Though we’ll know that their gestures won’t permanently solve all our problems, we need to accept what they offer us. Don’t accept their gestures out of pity or annoyance. Accept their gestures out of honor. It’s an honor to have people care about you, not a right. The point of their gestures isn’t to fix you. The point is that they love you and are trying to help you feel better. Receiving a Ruby Falls gesture is a privilege. Don’t miss it.