I couldn’t shake it. A pressing weight. A suffocating feeling. A sense of doom. I searched myself and found nothing. No recurring sin in need of repentance. No tragedy or trial. No unordinary change. Yet the tears flowed and the cloud hovered. I prayed. I debated antidepressants. I prayed some more.
After a few weeks, I made a phone call to an old friend. She listened and prayed. While we couldn’t pinpoint a cause, we chatted about solutions. She recommended a book entitled, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I can’t say enough about this book. The writing itself is beautiful. I felt as if I was engulfed in a sea of flowers and being led in a delicate dance, with God as my partner. She whisked me away to another world; only her elaborate descriptions were of ordinary, everyday things. A story about her boys splashing in a puddle moved me to tears. For that matter, the ornate statement of faith on her website caused me to fall to my knees. (read it here)
In the book, Voskamp describes her journey to record one thousand gifts God has given and continues to give her on a daily basis. She articulates how God changed her during the process. He transformed her thinking and outlook simply by helping her search for His gifts in the smallest details of life. “When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become gift?” (p.94)
So I took pen to paper. I opened a new leather-bound journal and stretched my writing skills to the limit. I began looking at the world around me with new lenses. My senses came alive as I purposefully sought after God’s precious gifts. I can’t say I reached one thousand (at least not in writing), but I can say something changed. Simply choosing to look for blessings helped dissipate that hovering cloud.
To read Ann Voskamp’s list you need to obtain her book (yes, do it!). But I will give you a glimpse into my journal.
- Gift 1 – God’s Grace – without it there is no hope
- Gift 7 – Colors – they make life more interesting and invoke various sensations
- Gift 10 – Movement – it’s renewing and used for expression, it pulls me up into the world of the living
- Gift 11 – Words – strung together on a page to draw me in and take me away
- Gift 12 – Words – sung to a musical background to portray a message of hope, to bring a tear
- Gift 13 – The Word – life breathed
- Gift 14 – A Child’s Heart – broken for a lost world
- Gift 19 – My sister who laughs – hard – at my ridiculous quips
- Gift 23 – Prayer – an opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life
- Gift 26 – Five beautiful ladies + one gathered around a picnic table eager to feast at Your table – to learn from each other, laugh together and uplift each other’s souls
- Gift 27 – A non-judgmental arm draped across my shoulder as the tears flow
- Gift 28 – Truth that takes hold, penetrates, heals.
- Gift 63 – A disposition of thankfulness even as I feel ill, sick to my stomach, and out of sorts.
Although I now only record gifts periodically, I see the world differently, better. Even today I stopped to enjoy the bouquet of deep red and yellow tulips God left for me in front of the Lutheran church. Thank you, Lord.