I’m a little embarrassed that the simple act of writing down “gifts” was so revolutionary in my life. What an ingrate, right?
Although it’s an awfully harsh way to put it, the shoe fits. My natural bent is to fixate on what went wrong, what I didn’t get done, what I wish had gone differently. When I read One Thousand Gifts two and a half years ago, I was challenged to look purposefully for opportunities to say “thank you” to God and to recognize all parts of my day–the obviously lovely as well as the difficult and boring– as gifts from his wise hand.
In her book, Ann Voskamp suggests literally writing down a gift list. I did this religiously for about six months. Since then, I’ve gone through phases where I’ve written a lot each day, and where I write a few things once a week. And here’s the truth: there is something magical about putting pen to paper. There’s also the added bonus that you’ve created a written record of God’s faithfulness in your daily life to refer back to in hard times! (And on a totally practical note, it’s also the one place where I’ve preserved funny moments and quotes from my kids that would have been lost to memory otherwise.) So I’m trying to be more faithful in my list-making. Even if I don’t record every beautiful sunbeam, I try to write at least a few things every day or so.
When I don’t have my notebook handy, I try at least to say to myself (sometimes even out loud), “This is a gift.” And I think of how I would put the moment into words if I were to write it down.
Of course, this is fall, and it’s almost the Season of Thanksgiving, so it’s a great time to do some family-wide gift-listing as well.
Cultivating a daily habit of gratitude is like putting on gospel glasses all day long. It frames every encounter, every frustration, every little bit of beauty as part of a day God has ordained for me.
There’s so much more to say on this topic. I highly recommend One Thousand Gifts if you haven’t read it already, and eucharisteo is a topic I’ve written about many other times. So, for further reading…
- One Thousand Gifts Devotionals— more thoughts on the book, chapter by chapter
- “A Word to Live By” — when the rubber met the road for the first time in my life
- A Holy Experience — Ann Voskamp’s blog
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