My New Year’s reading has entailed one of the best books I’ve ever read: One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. She writes about choosing, learning, deciding to see the gifts in our lives. To give thanks. To name our thanks. To name our gifts and reclaim our lives.
The book started with a map of her own tragedy. Of pooling tears and shut in grief and tamped down faith. I liked it then. I liked the acknowledgement of the pain of life; eyes that see “a world pocked with pain.”
And then she shifts direction, subtly, like a shadow passing over, from grief to life, from ingratitude to grace. To see the world through different eyes. Eyes that see through the “losses that puncture our world” to God.
A dare to see a world where “that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To him. To the God we endlessly crave.”
I wanted to go with her. To see with her.
I have no problem believing in the power of words, of our thoughts, to transform our lives. I have no problem believing that there are immeasurable gifts of grace and delight sitting below our noses, below my computer to the sparkling gold-gilded placemats that dazzle the room–a literal and metaphorical gift to my roommate that now garnish our table.
But right now, drowning in year-end regrets and plowing through a quarter-life crisis, I don’t want to be grateful.
I want to be justified in my discontent. I want to mourn what I’ve lost. The unmet expectations. The disappointment. The disillusionment. That I’m 25 and haven’t published a best seller or met the man of my dreams.
Okay, those may seem too cliche or far-fetched to warrant empathy. But the disappointment is real. The daily defeat of not being who I thought I would be. The sum of a million unmet expectations, moments when I could have chosen to learn and grow and live fully, when instead I sulked and balked and grew more deeply discontent.
This is and isn’t what I want.
I know I need gratitude. I know it is the only way to truly live. I know it is The Way.
In the book, Ann starts an audacious list of 1,000 gifts in her life.
I’m starting one too. Right now I’m merely going through the motions. But I pray my pen and my prayers and my lists will reveal the places pocked with pain as gifts, as “seeing-through-to-God-places.” That I would end the attitude of unthanksgiving. That I would learn to live.
1. Honest words typed across a blank screen…