"The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him;" Lamentations 3:25

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gratitude is Not About Me

   I am sure by now Ann Voskamp has become a household name.  Kind of like the Beth Moore of the blogging world.  I received her book One Thousand Gifts around my birthday this past January.  I had come across her blog in December of last year through Gwen Smith, a Girlfriend in God ( Girlfriends in God website ) in her Facebook status.  She was sharing a post that Ann had written about Christmas and her words to describe Ann was "She drips Jesus".  Now, having followed her blog ever since, I couldn't agree more.  I can relate to her so much because I see in her a Mother who desperately wants to 'get it right'.  Who shocks herself when her flesh rises to the surface and she finds herself dealing with her children in a *gasp* ungodly way.  Who would easily label herself as a mess.  But what Ann has grasped and I think I am starting to get it to is that we, ourselves will never 'get it right'.  Only through Jesus could we ever possibly navigate through the messy life of being a Mom, or just being a Christ follower for that matter.  We alone do not possess the ability to do as Jesus would do. Only Him through us.  So often I find myself trying to do this all on my own. I pray to Him and seek Him but it seems to me that as soon as I say 'Amen' I'm trying to follow Him through my own strength. Forgetting that I have the Holy Spirit that I can consult with throughout the day. Especially when I find myself at a standoff with my toddler for the umpteenth time today.
   All this to say, I received her book in January and tried to read it, I don't know how many times.  For some reason I just always ended up no further than the first few chapters and then things would come up and it would slowly work its way back onto the bookshelf only to be started over a few months later.  This summer, when the storms really hit and I found myself gasping desperately for air while being pummeled with wave after crashing wave, I finally read through the whole book.  But found that I never put it into practice.  Now, I have picked it up again, determined to try again.
   My soul feels weary most days.  I know I'm growing and learning, but I still feel rather lifeless.  I am starting to get off the floor or despair and survive, but we are called to thrive.  To be of use to the Kingdom.  On a whim it seems, I've picked the book up again and resolved to really commit to this life of thanking Him in all circumstances.  To unclench my fists and be willing to receive all that He gives.  It must be an appointed time because I have now come across this message of gratitude and thankfulness multiple times in all of the daily devotionals and blogs that I read.  Of course, it could also possibly be because it is November ;)  Either way, I admit that I tremble a little.  It's the trust thing again.  Can I really open my hands and with palms facing the heavens accept what He gives me?  Or accept what He does not?  Can I accept this divorce? Can I accept my Husband in the arms of another person?  I think gratitude is not just about accepting what God gives us, but accepting His decision to not give us something.  And the one thing that Him and I are working so hard on is to transfer my head knowledge to my heart.  My head knowledge knows that there are times when God simply will not give us what we so desire. Even if it's a good thing, like my marriage being reconciled.  Either because it is not the right time and giving us something so easily or early could be harmful to us. Or because He simply will not force someone back into a marriage.  My head knowledge knows that His decision is in my best interest. Always. But my heart has a hard time living and believing it.
  For me, I feel like this season would be one of the hardest seasons to push past my own pain and choose to look at all that I do have instead of yearning for all that I don't.  Namely, my marriage.  I fear I won't be strong enough.  It goes against my very nature to be thankful and to not pout and lick my wounds.  However I know that unless I pick up 'an attitude of gratitude' I am going to be one miserable person.  I want to wake up, I want to fully live, I want to be open to receive all that He has for me.  And my life's desire, my plea is that God will be enough for me.  That I won't want anything but Him.  Because there, I am safe.  He will never let me down.  He will never tell me He doesn't love me, or make me feel like I am not worth fighting for.  He fought for me already, and that was on the cross.
   So today I see, and press on to live out the fact that gratitude is not about me.  It's not about when things are going right in my life.  When I am receiving the things that I want.  Gratitude is about thanking and praising God for just being Him!  This Thousand Gift List is about opening myself up to see Him and all that He has created for us, and I cling to the faith that through it all I will see these gifts as God's love letter to me.  I admit I'm not there yet and I easily fall into the trap of just writing down pleasant things.  But I press on, and I know He will be faithful to complete the work He has started in me.  I feel He has prompted me back into this, so therefore I know He will walk me through it.  I want to "taste and see that the Lord is good." Psalm 34:8

Picking up where I left off in my previous attempt to count a thousand gifts from Him...

173. Noah's joy and laughter playing with a balloon
174. Excitement and anticipation replacing fear on my upcoming C-Section
175. The re-determination to fight for joy
176. The sky this morning as I wait outside the shop. Baby pink, soft blue and gray intermixed in a thin layer of fluffy clouds that covered the whole sky to the mountains
177. Taking a different, more gently approach to getting Noah to the door at daycare without me having to carry him, and it worked! I pretended we were racing to the door. He still wouldn't come. I just put my hands on my hips and without raising my voice simply said "Noah, come on." To which he giggled and came running. Then we raced to the door all smiles.
178. Having my debit card not work so I'm not able to make any impulsive purchases online
179. The baby's hiccups, gentle nudgings bringing me comfort and companionship
180. Yellow toy car in my purse
181. Overcoming my fear of darkness and sleeping with my door open and the hall light off so that Noah's door could be open without the light keeping him awake
182. Trusting God to take care of me and keep me safe, giving me the courage to sleep with the lights off having faith that He resides in my home so therefore it is a safe place
183. No longer feelings suffocated by the fact that my time with just one child to love and care for is almost over.  The panic is gone and replaced with joyful anticipation. Seeing it as a gift, not a curse.

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