I’ve heard it before, “Well, the way I see it…” That phrase often precedes the speaker sharing her opinion on a topic based on her perspective. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective. And I’ve learned that the way I look at things really does matter.
I have been reading the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (If you haven’t read it – run, don’t walk, run to the bookstore or click on the link and get it now!) and the book offered me great challenge and encouragement. I found myself saying “Me, too!” on page after page, thought after thought.
Ann (I’ll use her first name like we’re friends) writes of a life she lived for years, an unfulfilled life. Yes, she knew and loved the Lord, but often she found herself lacking something in a life filled with busyness – farm chores, six children to raise and homeschool, and countless writing and speaking engagements. Ann ultimately came to the conclusion that what she was missing, that which would satisfy her weary soul, was living a life full of JOY in the Lord.
Thus, Ann began a journey to discover eucharisteo, or thanksgiving, in her daily life. She decided to make a list, to count one thousand blessings in her every day. She named things like morning shadows across old floors (#1); mail in the mailbox (#22); kisses in the dark (#56); clean sheets smelling like the wind (#243); suds…all color in the sun (#362); forgiveness of a sister (#783); toothless smiles (#882). Every item named, recognized, acknowledged as a gift and thanks given for it.
And so, in response to Ann’s journey, I’ve decided to take one of my own. I have started my own list of one thousand gifts, the reminders of His grace and goodness in the ordinary that I could easily miss out on if I didn’t take the time to recognize them, to count them, to name them as blessings. But more than a list (because I’m a list maker and I’m task oriented and this could easily become more of an intellectual challenge than an act of worship) I am feeling a heart change, a shift in my point of view. I am made more aware of how my perspective of a situation determines whether I name it as a blessing, whether I can find the beauty and see something worthy of praise in a song or a scent or a moment. And if I find beauty and give thanks in all the moments, isn’t this life, these few short years, much sweeter? And if I am so busy being thankful that I forget to worry or fret or complain, isn’t this life much more beautiful and worthwhile and pleasing to Him? To do this, to truly be able to give thanks and find joy, I am going to have to learn to be present in each moment, letting go of the past, not worrying about the future, and living, breathing, soaking up the now.
It is also worth noting that this sense of gratitude and joy I am seeking are not an attempt to permanently implant rose-covered lenses over my eyes or to ignore the reality I live in. Because the truth is, there are some things in life for which giving thanks is difficult. There are hard days, bad weeks, difficult years. We are hurt at times, cut deep by betrayal or pain or loss. There are times when giving thanks seems ridiculous because the situation seems utterly devoid of God. But if we believe that God is sovereign and that He is good no matter our circumstances, then we can’t help but give thanks at all times in all things. I pray that in those moments I will be able to live the hard eucharisteo, to give the difficult thanksgiving. Because He is always worthy.
This morning I added to my list:
7. Truth in the Word speaking into the reality of my situation
8. Writers who inspire me
9. Warm hazelnut coffee
So maybe you won’t make a list to one thousand blessings. But maybe it is enough to start seeing things differently. You could just start by answering the question: What are you thankful for today?