Months ago I told about a book I read on expressing thankfulness to God, one thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp. In fact, most of my summer last year was spent poring over the pages, marveling at Ann’s ability to see wonder in the same kind of ordinary things that have always stood out in my mind.
When I restarted this blog on Thanksgiving Day 2018, one of my intentions was to keep updating as I listed my own one thousand gifts. My plan was to start taking more notice of the common things of life as I learned to see them as the gift from God that they each are.
Well. It just hasn’t happened that way.
I expected to write at least one thing a day, one blessing, one unexpected smile, one poignant thought that came as if floating down like a leaf into my mind.
I wrote down 7 entries in the first 2 months. And 15 more in the next 8 months.
I struggle with expressing gratitude. I feel it, I just have problems acknowledging it, naming it.
This isn’t because God hasn’t blessed me beyond my wildest dreams already in my life. It has nothing to do with his goodness, his love, his grace. Pouring himself out for me, and over me, bringing so many good gifts into my life.
There is that part of me that is so independent that I want to be responsible for all the good things that happen to me. I don’t want to have to admit that I am not in control, that I can’t take care of myself, keep myself safe, protect the ones I love.
One problem with feeling in control of the good things is that I should also take responsibility for the bad that happens in my world.
I’m not good at that at all.
Is it a problem I have with God? I know I feel differently about God the Father than I do about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I have personal relationships with each of them, and I feel much more comfortable learning from Jesus’ example in the word or listening to the prompting of the Spirit in my heart.
I have perceived God as silent, as looming over me, waiting for me to make a mistake. I have feared him and not in a good way. I have avoided looking to him for help. I have somehow mixed up in my mind who God says he is with who I have seen earthly fathers be to their children and wives.
All earthly fathers have faults, will fail us. God tells us that he doesn’t. But do I still see him through the lens of my father’s impatience, my grandpa’s neglect?
This is a work in progress, the way I see God, and I’m not where I need to be. Yet. But I’m going in the right direction.
So an interesting combination of things has brought me to a place where I am finally feeling gratitude bubbling up in me, overflowing in a way I’ve longed for. I can’t say what the straw was that broke the camel’s back, but something has opened the floodgates.
Because in just 4 short days, I added 103 gifts to my list of things I’m thankful for! Bringing me to 125.
Celebrate Recovery, going to a Christian mentor, studying Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend, reading the Bible, sitting under the preaching of my pastor, being in a care group, seeing a therapist for the first time ever, and getting to go to my second CR Summit last week.
Something has freed me to express the wonder I see around me.
I’ll tell you more about the day the walls came down another time.
Just a few days after that I was in a place of hurt and fear, sickness and uncertainty, and I had to wait to get relief. I didn’t know how things were going to go.
I was in a hospital bed, being woken through the night for different purposes, but needing to sleep despite pain and apprehension.
So I decided to pray myself to sleep. And when I started with praise, it was no surprise after the week I had just had: that list that only stopped because I ran out of time to write more blessings.
I went to sleep that night thanking God for all the ways he had worked my illness, my recent experiences, to get me to this place where I could finally get the help I’d been asking medical professionals to give me for years.
As I was woken to check vitals, I’d continue my discussion with God, but no matter how many times this happened, I never got beyond praise and thanks.
Because no matter what was going to happen in the morning, no matter what the tests were going to show, God is still good and he still loves me.
I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “Give thanks in everything.”
So while I’m walking through this hard place, I’m staying focused on the things that are floating down on me from God’s hand, giving me a chance to lift my face to see God’s provision instead of wallowing in my circumstances and missing the chance to count.
126. being able to breathe