Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Thankful for Ann Voskamp's 1,000 Gifts
I'm currently reading Ann Voskamp's "1,000 Gifts" with a neighborhood group of girlfriends, a bookclub of sorts. At first, I wasn't crazy about the book. Mainly because of her writing style, which is quite poetic, yet dense and hard to follow. I usually love flowery prose, but for some reason, it took me awhile to get used to her writing and I kept having to go back and re-read paragraphs and ask "what is she really saying here?" But after a couple of chapters (and re-reading them a couple of times!), I began to follow her. And I find that what she is saying is life-changing. I misunderstood by her title, at first, that it was yet another book about how we should just be more thankful about things. People say that all the time. Gosh, we have so much to be thankful for, so many other people are suffering and have so much less. But that doesn't really help me in the moment. Especially if I am experiencing "suffering" of sorts, even if it may not be traumatic, like what many people around the world may be experiencing. But that doesn't make my trial any less real to me and those in my life. What I love about this book is that Ann is not saying "just suck it up and be thankful." Not at all. She is saying it is a practice, a hard discipline, a learned gift, to give thanks in ALL circumstances. It does not come natural. It is not easy. But when practiced regularly, it can transform our thought life. I've only touched the surface of this practice, but it is changing me. Gratitude, she says, is lifting our eyes up to God and not ourselves. I am challenged by how often my day is all about me, even with two little ones at home to take care of. It is still about me and my priorities and my expectations of the day. How rarely do I thank God for the little things in the day? For a sweet smile from my two year old. For a giggle from his little sister when he makes funny faces at her. For a brisk morning run around the neighborhood, pushing the double stroller, before it gets too hot. For a fun two year old birthday party and train ride with Marshall's buddies today. All of it is sweet. All are things to be thankful for. Yet what I find myself doing is allowing my thought life to go to the negative. To things that haven't happened, to worries that I can't control, to expectations that haven't been met, or a conversation I'm mulling over that may have just been a misunderstanding. My goal, then, is to work on training my mind, to "think on things above" and "things that are lovely, of good report, noble..." so that even my thought life is giving praise to God throughout the day. If you haven't read it, I recommend giving Ann Voskamp's book a try. Once you get past the poetic and flowery prose, I pray that you will find rich treasures of truth based on God's word about being thankful. For as 1 Thessalonians 5 says, "Rejoice always, be thankful in all circumstances, pray continually, for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus."