Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Current Read

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are: Ann Voskamp

I've picked up this one to read a few times but have never made it through the first chapter. It's funny, really, since I've written often about the power of gratitude to change one's perspective on life and how God-honoring I believe the thankful life to be (likewise, living ungratefully can be destructive at each and every level) that I would have so much trouble sticking with this one. I've decided that now needs to be the time. With a renewed commitment to thrive, instead of just survive, it seems like to the time to allow the words on these pages that have inspired so many good, godly people to have some room in my meditation as well.

Already, in the little bit that I've read, she talks about the deep hurts she's experienced and how those impacted her faith. The deep sorrow of this farm-girl-Jesus-loving-Canadian-writer-sister friend have resonated deeply with me. I know that if I am to thrive this year, there will be some big healing work to be done. At least 6 years worth of deep, life altering hurts have been piled layer upon layer in my heart and, whether I like it or not, impact my day to day, darkening life with their shadow when I least expect it.  It's time for healing. Ann's story inspires me and, if the reviews are true, might just provide me with a few tools to move forward in that path.

So far, I've decided, it's nice to know I'm not alone. Not in a 'misery loves company' sort of way but in an "if she can survive - even thrive - then I can too" sort of way. The questions she ask of life and faith...did she read my mind? Has she heard my middle of the night, cry like David sort of prayers? She writes:" Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies die, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die, break off without reason, erode away. Where is this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I fully live when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dream and all that empties me out?" (Voskamp, pg 12).

And then she talks about longing for joy, for holy joy, realizing that only then will there truly be life and life to the full. Those deep shadows of sorrow. Those questions. The hurt. THEY DO NOT HAVE TO BE THE ANSWER. She comes to this conclusion: "As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning-now; wherever, meaning - here.The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be - unbelievable - possible!" (Voskamp, pg 33).

I think that's why Scripture talks over and over and over about the importance of the mind, what we think (meditate) about and what truths we believe. It can change everything. One person can live in circumstances and decide they are victimized, life owes them something and they will never be satisfied until they have all they are entitled to (have I mentioned how much I hate that word? Entitled. Eww). Another, living in the EXACT SAME circumstances can choose to look and see the victories, the gifts and the hope, however big or small, in each day. It's hard. It's terrible, painstaking, life changing, reorienting hard work and sometimes I am SO INCREDIBLY BAD AT IT. The crappy things seem so big and so all consuming...and sometimes they are. The hurt is real. The experiences of pain are valid. Sin and suffering exist in the world. But somehow, living well, living full and experiencing true joy must mean taking the power away from the past, looking forward and choosing gratitude. There has to be a way to reconcile it all and live in the freedom and fullness of life that God has promised, a way to thrive. There has to be.

Anyone that has heard a bit of my story and reads books seem to be recommending One Thousand Gifts to me so I'm diving in. If I find anything worth sharing, it will be brought here, I promise.

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