"God Gives Gifts and I Give Thanks and I Unwrap the Gift Given: Joy"

In celebration of Thanksgiving, I have been thinking about those things for which I’m most grateful from this past year. In many ways, it has been a tough year for me. Perhaps a better word is “challenging.” I had a difficult pregnancy that landed me in the hospital unexpectedly, and then a labor that felt like it was never going to end. I had a baby who cried and didn't sleep for what felt like weeks on end. I felt alone caring for her. So, we moved across the country to find our "village," and for the past couple of months, my husband has been out of town during the week at training, only home on the weekends.

It has not been easy, but even in spite of those challenges, I have been careful to not lose sight that there is much for me to appreciate. Even in our suffering, there are things to be grateful for. I think that is a lesson I definitely learned this year. For even that, I am grateful.

Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts posits that a life of joy and of a filling salvation comes when we learn to live a lifestyle of being grateful and thankful for every single thing God has gifted to us. Good, bad, big, little. We rejoice in it all.

Upon reading Philippians 4:11-12, where Paul writes, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation…”, Voskamp points readers to the fact that Paul had to learn these things. She realized that we must learn to live a life utterly thankful for all that God doles out. It does not come naturally.

So she decided to keep a list, to hone that sense of gratitude for the live that God has given. I love that idea, and while my efforts to keep my own running list have never made it more than a day or two, I still want to make an effort to see the beauty in this life of mine, the small acts of kindness God shows me, the redemption he brings to each and every one of those challenges.

“Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle," she writes. "The miracle of eucharisteo, like the Last Supper, is in the eating of crumbs, the swallowing down one mouthful. Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life—even the hard—is made up of the minute parts, and I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out.”

Learning to seek out an attitude of gratefulness in even the smallest of things matters. Because there are always small things for me to be thankful for, and I think that is one of the things that helped me through that season, that buoyed me and kept me afloat when it felt I was sinking. We need not wait for the big things to give thanks.

Today, I look at my life and, in contrast to where I've been, it seems so full. No, it is not ideal. But it is good, it is vibrant, it is beautiful. To me, at least. Even in its smallest places, even in the midst of the struggles.

So grateful, I am.

Joy is always given, never grasped.
God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.
— Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

1 comment:

  1. Happy belated Thanksgiving, Carmen! I hope it was good. This post is so right and so right-on-time.

    I don't think life is ever ideal but God is teaching me too, to count EVERYTHING as a blessing even the absence of things.

    Glad to read a longer post from you :) I hope You and Claire are doing well.


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