The trees have shamelessly disrobed once again. Birds flock to warmer spaces, and family gathers in. As we tiptoe toward another season of thanks and giving, may I ask, How’s your heart?
Mine is frankly concerned with other things—details, plans, the small bits of life. I mean, who really has time for giving thanks continually, in all things? Am I meant to be grateful for the toothpaste globs in the sink?
I could rejoice that Riley and I are healthy enough to be brushing our own teeth. Or that we can afford toothpaste. Or that we have clean water to use. Or that there’s a sink in our house (more than one!). Or a hundred other tiny things, gifts really, that go overlooked because all I see is the glob that needs to be cleaned.
If you haven’t read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, I highly recommend it, but I do so with a couple of warnings. 1, her writing style is not for everyone (though it’s a helpful exercise to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone occasionally). 2, you won’t be the same afterward. That amount of gratitude practice leaves a heart fuller, more elastic. But to sum it up, this wise woman of God encounters the concept of eucharisteo, a word that envelops grace, joy, and thanksgiving, and then accepts a challenge from a girlfriend to record a thousand things she is blessed by, one thousand gifts.
It’s not a shallow journey, and it is not without grief—the way of Christ never is. However, tending a heart that is rooted in thankfulness is the happiest wake-up call to reality. Just like the toothpaste globs, there are riches surrounding us that we just can’t see until we have trained our eyes to adjust to them. I wonder if the secret to contentment isn’t getting the right amount of the right quality of stuff, but to reorient ourselves in humility and gratitude for the incalculable grace we’ve already received?
Entitlement is the murderer of joy, self-centeredness of thanksgiving. Think about it: Scrooge is, well, Scrooge until he recognizes this moment of life as a gift. It’s not until we empty ourselves that we can be filled with good things. And a grateful heart is a good thing: it allows us to enter fully into the joy of our Master.
“As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.”
(Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)
I’m counting my own list of a thousand gifts (which includes cracking open a brand-new book and the first snowfall of the year) as this time of eucharisteo dwells with us. Join me?