I could start this out with how disappointed I am that it has been almost a month since I’ve posted. I could start with my disbelief at how fast time speeds past us. I could start by giving all the reasons why I’ve been too busy in other areas of life to invest in this writing. But that’s not the point. Excuses and explanations should never be where we start, but rather we should remember that the journey is what’s most important, and we need to do all we can to share that importance with others so their lives might be changed as well.
Three weeks ago I was invited to join a book study. A friend of mine was going to be reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp with another friend. I was more than happy to partake; anything to keep diving deeper into my spiritual growth. So each week, we would read a chapter and meet up/video chat online to talk about what stood out to us and go through different discussion questions. Pretty basic as far as a book study goes. What I hadn’t accounted for however, was just how powerful this book could be.
It’s almost difficult to get into at first, the writing style is very different than what I’m used to, but then, she hits you with a blinding truth and you’re hooked. Reading and discussing only one chapter a week is never enough but you’re also blessed to know that it makes this a long term commitment instead of just a holiday fling. I don’t want to say too much incase you have not read it, at which I will say, you must read this book. I’m only three chapters in and it’s completely revolutionized how I experience each day.
The main point of the book is how we need to be grateful for everything and how all of the sin in our lives comes from ingratitude. I won’t butcher her teaching by trying to explain it more fully; I’ll let you read her words for that. She is challenged to write a list of one thousand gifts that she has: things like the sun streaming through a window, a breeze blowing through a chime, or the smell of freshly cut flowers. She only just began this list in chapter three and is already seeing how it has changed her from the inside out. When you are grateful for all of the seemingly insignificant things in your day, all of the big things are less troublesome and you have more faith that God will handle them.
There were two other things we realized happened from this list. First, that joy is contagious. If you are happy, it will seep into those around you. And second, sometimes you’re too close to the situation to see how much you’ve grown, so affirmation from others can have a huge impact in how you see yourself and your situation.
So, we started our own challenge.
We didn’t want to write one thousand things in isolation. We wanted to build each other up and let the joy seep into all of our circles of influence. We wanted to still keep it simple enough to fall into place of our ordinary lives rather than being an extra chore to keep track of. So we started a group text, just the three of us. Every day we each text five things we are grateful for. As the day progresses you quickly text a few words of appreciation for the meal you just prepared, or snap a photo of the colors the sunset made, or your excitement for getting a hand-written letter in the mail.
The results? On the very first day, I woke up to texts of gratitude, which framed my entire outlook for the day. Even with significant financial setbacks that came a few hours later, I wasn’t concerned because I was still grateful for all that we had and I trusted God even more to fulfill all of His promises. Each day has only served to open my eyes wider to everything God graces us with in this life. There is a constant flow of thanksgiving and my sight has been realigned to see how miraculous a smile is. God gave us the desires of our hearts, so each time we feel that little flutter of joy in our hearts that makes us smile, that is God fulfilling those desires He put into us. He cares that much.
So now I challenge you. Get a group together, just a few people, and start a thread of thanksgiving. Plan to list five or ten things each day that you are each appreciating. If you choose ten, you can get to one thousand in one hundred days (but you may not want to stop by then!). Don’t list ten all at once, but one at a time as they happen throughout the day. It’s amazing how at the exact moment you start getting anxious, someone else drops a line of gratitude. And when you’ve had more than you can handle for the day, someone else reminds you that just a warm breeze on their face is a touch from God. This may sound cheesy, but I promise you, this will significantly impact your daily outlook. And I bet it won’t take long at all before those around you start seeing the change. If nothing else, think about the lives you can reach for Jesus, just by living a life of thanksgiving!
(If you do choose to take up our challenge I would love to hear about how it’s going! Please leave some comments about how it has impacted you. Let me know some of the things you have on your list. I’d love to start a conversation with all of you!)