A few months ago I began a journey through Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts. I say 'journey' because it's not a book you read cover to cover in one sitting, or even two. It's one of those you chew on. You read a few pages and ponder. Sometimes just one paragraph left me breathless, wondering if I could honestly dare to live fully right where I am.
The premise of One Thousand Gifts is eucharisteo - learning to live a life of true thanksgiving and in doing so finding joy. The Greek word eucharisteo is a verb - an action word - to be thankful, to give thanks. It is something we do, not something we are. I can learn to be a thankful person, but am I someone who is always looking for opportunities to give thanks? The difference is being versus doing. I don't want to simply BE thankful. I want to live a life of thankfulness - to DO thankfulness.
I think the thing that struck me at first was understanding the importance of thankfulness for ALL THINGS. We are all quick to thank God for our spouse, kids, home, etc. Those are easy (sometimes!). Learning to live a life of true thanksgiving means watching for Him everywhere; looking for the Lord and his work in everything around us. It is relearning how to view life. Not through our own self-centered lens, but through an eternal lens; a lens that seeks to open our eyes to true joy. Oftentimes that 'true joy' has nothing at all to do with our circumstances and absolutely everything to to with His plan.
Following the author's example, I started my own eucharisteo list...my list of 1,000 gifts. In doing so my eyes have been opened to so much of what I was missing. Things that have been there all along, but in my shortsightedness I passed them by. In missing them, I missed an opportunity for joy.
#8 - quiet, unhurried reflection
#12 - friends willing to share the load running early morning football carpool
#15 - a moment of self-control
#51 - kids laughing with their friends
#58 - puddles
#64 - my oldest son, himself a man, kayaking across the lake - alone - he is his own
#91 - letting go of unspoken expectations
#102 - daily chores, the reminder of a full house
Learning to live fully in each moment means slowing down to see what is right in front of me. I don't want to come to the end of my days and realize I missed a life of joy because I was too busy BEING rather than DOING.