I recently finished reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I read a lot of books and I love a lot of books, but if someone asks me to name my favorite, I am seized by a sense of panic. How could I possibly do that? An easier task is to make a list of books that have changed my life. One Thousand Gifts will definitely make my list if anyone asks for it in the future.
The book is about giving thanks in all circumstances. This is one of the weakest places in my Christian walk. A confirmed Eeyore, I can find a negative in the most positive of circumstances. It’s dreadful. I have known for some time that this was a thing God wanted to change in me. There were just so many other things he needed to do first! I started the book with trepidation. Attempting things I’m not good at is stressful, but I was encouraged right away by the author’s approach. She recognizes that giving thanks in all circumstances is difficult, so she suggests breaking it into pieces: “There is a way to live the big of thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.”
Good thing for me, Ann Voskamp was an Eeyore, too. She learned first to notice the little things. Following her example, I went to Wal-Mart and bought myself a little journal and some half-size pens.
I keep the journal with me at all times. Its purpose is to record God’s gifts. I’m aiming for 1,000, of course, but I am currently up to 78. I find a lot more on the weekend when I am home and my pace is slower. That’s okay; I’m taking baby steps. My list includes regular things: “The smell of freshly brewed coffee,” and “Warm laundry just out of the dryer.” I’ve also found that I’m beginning to see things I never noticed before, beautiful things, things I walked right by before, or saw only with a negative eye. Recording them is like writing poetry: “The rainbows cast in the entryway by the prisms of the front door windows–reminding me that God always keeps his promises,” and “Steady rain falling in sheets outside my Monday classroom window.”
Here’s another passage that I copied into my commonplace book: “The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to the world.” These words make me weep because they capture the desire of my heart. I long to be a bringer of Light instead of a spreader of gloom. This new discipline and my little journal are helping me. I have had to face the fact that PRIDE, that old nemesis of mine, is behind my lack of thanksgiving, too. C.S. Lewis was right to name it “The Great Sin.” Voskamp quotes Henry Ward Beecher who said, “Pride slays thanksgiving….A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.” OUCH! The truth hurts.
So, I’m on the hunt, eyes wide open, looking for God’s good gifts. I am finding them everywhere. Consider grapefruit.
We have started eating grapefruit for breakfast. In my journal I recorded: “Round, sweet-tartness, bursting yellow and pink–morning in my mouth–grapefruit!”
Every morning now, as I thank God for my breakfast, I’m not just going through the motions. I honestly see the fruit in front of me, cut with love by my awesome husband, with a grapefruit knife from my wonderful mother
as GRACE. I bow my head and my heart, and I give thanks.