One Thousand Gifts
by Ann Voskamp
This book is brought to me at just the right moment. The moment when God knew I was ready to hear the words within. For months now, maybe longer, I've been telling Fr. C that I want to find joy. I don't understand why it is that I can't see joy, feel joy, have joy. It should be easy. I'm living the life that I've always wanted. A husband with 4 beautiful children. A home in the country with some animals. The ability and desire to stay home and home school. All these things were a dream and now alive. So where is the joy? I have been wondering, searching, praying, crying, needing.
Yesterday this book arrives via the Kitsap Regional Library system. I requested it, they ordered it and now I can read it. I know it's about gifts, God's gifts. About blessings. But what I don't know is that within the first 3 chapters Ann will help me to find the answer to the questions I have been asking. She will open my eyes to what I've needed to know for a long time. And I finally have hope that I will soon find this joy God speaks of.
Not only that, she knows how I feel. She used to wake each day in a similar manner. It's comforting to read the words from another woman as she shares how she feels and those feelings are exactly the same as mine.
For years of mornings, I have woken wanting to die. Life itself twists into nightmare. For years, I have pulled the covers up over my head, dreading to begin another day I'd be bound to wreck. Years, I lie listening to the taunt of names ringing off my interior walls, ones from the past that never drifted far and away: Loser. Mess. Failure. They are signs nailed overhead, nailed through me, naming me.
Funny, this. Yesterday morning, the morning before, all these mornings, I wake to the discontent of life in my skin. I wake to self-hatred. To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning toilets. I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes. Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough? But this morning, I wake wildly wanting to live. Physically feeling it in the veins trembling, the hard pant of the lungs, the seeing it in the steady stars, how much I really want to really live. How I don't want to die. Is that the message of nightmares and dreams? To live either fully alive...or in empty nothingness?
She searches, looking deep, prays, reads and longs for an answer to how to live fully. She finds her answer in the word eucharisteo. It's all there, deep within the meaning of the word. Thanksgiving, Grace, Joy!
Deeper still the meaning comes with more reading of scripture. She is finding the mystery of what eucharisteo is all about. What is this thanksgiving really all about? This joy? And she is sharing this with us.
That might be what the quest for more is all about—that which Autustine claimed, “Without exception...all try their hardest to reach the same goal, that is, joy.”
And this was it; I could tell how my whole being responded to that one word. I longed for more life, for more holy joy.
She digs deeper still and finds meaning, deeper meaning, in the parable of the 10 lepers who are healed and only one returns to give thanks. He is made well, even after he was healed. What does this mean? She reads, prays, questions and finds answers. She shares.
I would never experience the fullness of my salvation until I expressed the fullness of my thanks for every day, and eucharisteo is elemental to living the saved life.
I am having a hard time deciding what parts to quote and what not to. I find I want to write it all. It's so profound. It's so from God to me. I can't just pick one little piece or even several because it all goes together. You need to read it. You need to see what she means when she dug deeper into Luke 17, or when she discovered the deeper meaning of eucharisteo. Or what began to happen when she started counting towards one thousand, seeing the gifts in her every day.
What will happen if I start to count. If I begin to live out the fullest expression of my salvation in Christ by taking everything in my life and returning to Jesus, falling at His feet and thanking Him?