I just finished a chapter of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, so I am feeling a bit introspective. It’s the book my MOPS group has chosen for our first book club, otherwise I probably never would have picked it up. If you haven’t heard of this book (which I would find surprising, since it seems to be at the center of what could skeptically be considered a devotional fad) I’ll give you a quick synopsis. The book is a chronicle of the author’s search for a more abundant life. She proposes that the path to joy lies in being thankful for every gift God gives us, beginning with the smallest, most mundane objects – the play of shadows across a wood floor, the chirp of a robin, a pile of freshly grated cheddar cheese…things like that. She points out the Bible calls us to constant prayer and thanksgiving, but the only way to fulfill this command is through faithful practice. Her chosen exercise is to write a list of one thousand things she is thankful for. I am only three chapters in, and while the prose is a bit flowery and the concepts a bit esoteric, I’ve become fascinated with her reasoning.
Could the key to deep contentment and lasting joy be thankfulness? Logic and my own experience says yes, it very well could be. I’ve mentioned before that I am struggling with contentment. It’s embarrassing to admit, when I look around at the beautiful life God has blessed me with, to find that I have a tendency to wish for more. It’s of small comfort to know that all humanity struggles with this issue. I think it may be even worse in our consumer-driven society, where we take our wealth for granted and are surrounded by the message that we need, we deserve, we are entitled to more.
Like I said, this book is full of lofty ideas and beautiful goals, and it’s easy for me to soar right along with her until the reality of leaky diapers, doggy accidents, and overflowing toilets drag me back to earth again (why do so many of my daily problems involve some sort of excrement?). I know the true lesson to be learned is how to be thankful for the poop, but I don’t think I’m quite enlightened enough yet to have an answer.
Anyway, I’m not even halfway through the book yet, and I’m sure there is much more to be learned, but I’m finding myself chomping at the bit to start writing down my one thousand gifts. A spiritual discipline that requires list writing? Sounds tailor-made for me! I know it can be tedious to read a list of things someone else is thankful for (I’ll admit I skipped over several Facebook statuses during the month of November) so I completely understand if you choose not to finish reading this post. I’m not going to write a one thousand item list on my blog, don’t worry. We’ll just call this a practice run of ten:
1. The noisy heater that just clicked on that allows me to pretend it’s spring, even though the outside temperature tries to convince me it’s still winter.
2. The fuzzy dog curled up on the end of my recliner, drooling on my foot.
3. Toys scattered around the living room, bedroom, kitchen…a colorful testimony to the activity level of Baby Girl and an ever-changing obstacle course to keep me nimble and improve my agility.
4. The long nap Sweetness is taking, which allows me to catch up on my Bible study homework, book club reading, and blogging (I refuse to think about the impact a two and a half hour morning nap will have on the likelyhood of her sleeping for a decent amount of time this afternoon).
5. The faint tapping of a nail gun being used a few houses down from us…a welcome change from the machine gun loudness that reverberated through our skulls when they were building the house directly behind ours.
6. The dribble of water through our built-in RO faucet…Chris just changed the filter and the water has to run through the tap for 24 hours before we can use it again. It’s a bit of a nuisance, but completely worth it when I think of how many jugs of drinking water and baby water we would have to buy if we didn’t have it (I’m a bit paranoid about the safety of tap water, though I’ve been told by scientific studies that my worries are completely unfounded).
7. The lamp that cheerily adds its light to the overcast sky, bravely continuing to shine its light despite being knocked over and off the end table during one of my recent bookshelf reorganization sessions (I’m ignoring the tear in the shade for now).
8. The ottoman my feet are currently resting on, threadbare and faded (we bought it four years ago, but they don’t make things like they used to) but the perfect structure for Charlotte to safely practice pulling up on and standing against.
9. The soft coos of Baby Girl as she wakes, which I know will escalate quickly into cries of protest. Yep, there she goes.
10. Sweet smiles, happy screeches, and lifted up arms in response to my call of “so big” as I change a wet diaper and exchange doggy jammies for a striped bunny play suit (yes, I know it’s 1:00pm…don’t judge me).
11. Bonus: Charlotte saved her BM until just before Daddy came home for lunch, so now he is changing her dirty diaper while I finish proof-reading this post (told you poop plays a big role in my life these days).
Hmm…looks like my thankfulness list could use a bit of work to eliminate the sarcasm and qualifiers. Oh well, eleven down, and I have nine hundred and eighty-nine more chances to practice!