Friday, May 6, 2011


Several months ago, after reading several recommendations of the book One Thousand Gifts in the blog world, I was intrigued enough to not only want to read it but actually buy it, and I tacked it on to an Amazon order.

I didn't realize how much my day job impacts my pleasure reading until I picked up this book. I function in a world where I am always trying to tighten writing, remove any superfluous adjectives and make sure the writer gets to the point in the most straightforward way possible. The writing in this book is the complete opposite of all of those things. It's not a bad thing, and I have two friends that have read the book and loved the writing style. But I struggled to get through a chapter, so it has taken me months to actually make some headway in the book. (Those friends are the reason I didn't give up on it after the first chapter.)

I do like the idea of the book and the points the author makes, I've just struggled to actually get to those points. The idea is that in being thankful for all the things God has given us, we find joy, eucharisteo, as the author calls it.

As I have picked this book up and put it down again over and over in the last few months, I've felt like I'm accomplishing something by just reading another chapter, so I haven't even thought about how to apply the idea to my own life.

But I was having a rough day on Wednesday, for no reason in particular, just a continued struggle with discontentment and waiting to see God's plans for me.

I found myself feeling like I'm in the same place I was two years ago, desiring change but playing a waiting game with God. And I found myself thinking, what's really changed? I made decisions two years ago expecting God to do something great once I followed Him, but I feel like I'm still in the same place. Why did I come here if He wasn't going to show up or if He was going to lead me back to this same struggle? (Note: I was being dramatic, He has shown up and He is still showing up.)

And that's when I remembered the words of the book, gifts are all around me. In that moment I stopped to think of the gifts I had gotten that day: An unexpected and encouraging card from a close friend, a cool breeze on my walk to work, listening to a piano student playing during a lesson, walking home in daylight ... 

I started to remember other great gifts God has given me in the last two years, most of which I didn't expect, and maybe that's what I'm missing right now. I'm focused so much on the gifts I think are missing that I am missing the gifts all around me and missing out on that place of eucharisteo with God.

I picked up the book again and read through two chapters, and I really read them and focused on them. Once I grasped a bit of what Voskamp was saying, I enjoyed the book and saw what God was trying to show me. I started underlining and couldn't stop, but here's a quote that hit me right where I was:

"In this wilderness, I keep circling back to this: I'm blind to joy's well every time I really don't want it. The well is always there. And I choose not to see it. Don't I really want joy? Don't I really want the fullest life? For all of my yearning for joy, longing for joy, begging for joy — is the bald truth that I prefer the empty dark? Prefer drama? Why do I lunge for control instead of joy? Is it somehow more perversely satisfying to flex control's muscle? Ah — power — like Satan. Do I think Jesus-grace too impotent to give me the full life? Isn't that the only reason I don't always swill the joy? If the startling truth is that I don't really want joy, there's a far worse truth. If I am rejecting the joy that is hidden somewhere deep in this moment — am I not ultimately rejecting God? Whenever I am blind to joy's well, isn't it because I don't believe in God's care? ...

"The well is always here. God is always here — precisely because He does care. ... You have to want to see the well before you can drink from it. You have to want to see joy, God in the moment." (pgs. 130-131)

If you want your own copy of the book, go comment on my friend Andrea's post with three of your gifts/things you are thankful for before 5 p.m. on Friday, May 6 (today, so hurry).

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. Love it. It gave me a little chill. I am glad that you did not give up. Honestly, it was different than I expected. I thought it was going to be super chipper and list all of her thousand gifts. Thankfully I was wrong. I think that's a lot of why it resonated with me. Struggle, pain, and fighting for joy. Being intentional about seeing gifts and things we have to be thankful for really is not so trite, and it opens our eyes to seeing nearly everything as a gift. It leads me to being more and more thankful, and for that, I'm um...thankful. (we need more words in the English language!) I love the passage you picked out too. And the very good, and honest writing. Thanks for sharing.