Lessons from “One Thousand Gifts”

I wrote this a couple of months ago while sitting at the cabin. It was a late May day and my view included snow covered mountains, a quietly flowing creek and a million pine trees. Here were my thoughts on that peaceful cabin afternoon.IMG_0419 IMG_0416 IMG_0396 IMG_0393

Recently I finished Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. It changed the way I view my life.

God’s been working on me. Really stirring up my heart. God led me to Ann’s book as the next key step in a path back. The key message being that true joy is found only through thanksgiving. A grateful heart and life focused on counting gifts creates peaceful and joyful living. So simple yet completely paramount.

For most of my life my view was through a lens of discontentment. A discontentment based on the premise that if I had more or different stuff – car, home, body, job, guy, parents, clothes – I would then be happy.

This line of thinking really only led to envy, criticism, insecurity, worry and emptiness. It wasn’t about the stuff.

I quickly learned this in my mid-twenties. I had the house, the car, the guy, the job, even a body in the best shape of my life. And yet, none of it brought the happiness and peaceful heart I was searching for. Was it just me? Was I the problem? I just assumed yes. How could I change myself so that others wouldn’t see my vulnerability? with meanness? with selfishness? with more insecurity? Yes, yes and yes.

Gratitude? No.

I just about wrecked my life in my twenties. Just about sold my soul. Although most people around me couldn’t see this. I was wrapping a damaged package in a pretty bow.

It is amazing how God doesn’t give up on us. And even more amazing how he gives us people who don’t give up on us either.

This is the story in “One Thousand Gifts.” A story that hit close to home. God meets us where we are. Even in the most broken down of places. Even when we can’t see him through the darkness. He is always there, carefully guiding us through our storms.

And even as I write these words doubts sneaks into my mind. My stubborn human nature.

My life is full and good now. I have grown and changed. Is all of this just my doing? Good choices mixed with a bit of luck and hard work? I used to think so. Except my choices haven’t always been so good, luck is often not on my side and I know a whole lot of people with much less that work harder than I do.

It must be God. An all loving and pure grace that desires the best for me. Even when that best is a few hard lumps to keep my heart from turning rotten.

As I stop to see the gifts and give thanks, I am finding peace. I am seeing the good and feeling contentment and joy. Is this what peace is? Not in acquiring more. Not in changing my external. It is in changing my internal. It is in finally realizing that true joy is already here for the taking. And has been all along.

I just must let go of the notion that joy is doing more, achieving more, consuming more. It isn’t easy. It isn’t what the world wants us to believe.

All that is required is simply letting go, giving thanks, and allowing the joy to flow.

It is ours for the taking.

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