Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thankfulness

I was recently loaned Ann Voskamp's book one thousand gifts (If my computer would allow me to link I would, but it quit about a month ago letting me do links); Google and get it.

I think it may be one of the keys towards me letting go of some things I've been holding onto:

Hurt

Anger

Sadness

Fear

Rejection

I've only made it through the first 4 chapters, but they have already been transforming in my thinking.

A vital key to unlocking the depression that has plagued me off and on my whole life and especially these past three years:

THANKFULNESS

Yes, thankfulness

She knows of what she writes. She knows pain, heartache, misunderstanding, rejection, loss and depression.

She knows the desire for more and the knowledge of the Word, but I think she is going to put the practical into the joy that I can take with me and practice on a daily basis.

Eucharisteo

I've heard this word before. I've never really heard it explained...or I wasn't ready to receive and listen.

Giving Thanks

The how has escaped me so many times when life gets tough.

My first reaction is to whine and complain.

It's an ugly and unloving reaction that poisons myself and those around me.

The how to give thanks when life seems cruel: pain, rejection, scraping by day after day, month after month, year after year when I perceive others to have more, loss of life, loss of friends, just plain loss.

I've learned to live with this. I just haven't learned to live very well.

My parents taught me that hard is a part of life. It is.

But how do you practice and live a life of joy?

I remember them talking about thankfulness and joy.

My naturally emotional and melancholy nature didn't listen with ears tuned in.

I remember my mother at Thanksgiving with the table set pretty; the linen napkins out of the closet and gracing the table, the carefully and lovingly created nameplates above every place setting. The tiny kernel of corn on every plate that symbolized what we were most thankful for that year.

Some years I think I got it.

Thankful for the life of my baby brother when we all waited wanting to give him our bated breath to fill his too tiny lungs.

Thankful for my dad still at his seat at the table after months of doctors, hospitals, illness, tears and the thinking this new un-heard of disease was the end of our family as we knew it.

But in the back...no really, in the front of my mind I still questioned and railed against the perceived injustices and loss that came with all that.

The loss of stability when the already crazy hormones of my growing body was telling me to grow up and leave the favorite dolls and stuffed animals I still loved and talked too.

The loss of stability at home with too early birth and death and illness when I needed stability.

The loss of friends who didn't understand the tears of fear over a real possibility of losing a longed-for-little brother and then losing an uncle and then nearly losing a dad.

It was easier for them to back away.

The loss of a mother who had to care for a tiny too-early infant who needed her every moment and couldn't spend the time I longed for in our night time talks. As a mom who hangs on the edge of exhaustion I now understand, but not then.

The loss of a dear uncle who left a wife and 5 children behind.

I think the loss of friendships was the deepest loss I felt. The years of feeling alone no matter at home or away.

Ann writes of intentionality when seeing JOY.

"Real change takes intentionality, like a woman bent over her garden beds every day with a spade and the determined will to grow up something good and strengthen the heart." (But what do you do when the weeds and animals uproot and destroy what you've worked hard for?)

"I may even have known that change requires more than merely thinking the warm and fuzzy thoughts about a door and a way through and that Greek word, eucharisteo, holding the mystery to the full life and ever after."

But How?

"How in the world, for the sake of my joy, do I learn to use eucharisteo to overcome my one ugly and self-destructive habit of ingratitude (that habit that causes both my cosmic and daily fall) with the saving habit of gratitude?"

How in the midst of loss, melancholy, depressing, rejection, and falling do I express gratitude?

How when holding down my child for the countless time for more tests to determine the why of his illness and then see other issues arise with another child that also calls for tests, and vials of blood and hospital stays and too many needles to count and then weekly clinic visits--do I express gratitude?

How when I find that I have been once again rejected by someone I hold dear, do I express gratitude?

How when I am holding an only hours old nephew that has begun to grow cold and his limbs stiff and lips purple when he should be sucking in the nourishment of life and squinting at the light around him, do I express gratitude?

Where do I find joy in the midst of the Fall when I know that Heaven's joy and perfection is what I'm missing and longing for?

How do I give thanks in all?

I'm not sure.

I've read my Bible and outlined and studied and memorized and prayed but somehow I am still missing or have lost the deep joy in the midst of the painful and normalness of life.

I have fallen somewhere and am struggling to stand back up.

Ann says she started a gift list--

Thankfulness List--

anything went in there.

I see daily joy in the little things with my children, but can I expand that to everything else?

She says, "magnify Him with Thanksgiving." (Ps. 69:30). Life magnifies the world's stress cracks, the grubbiness of a day, all that is wholly wrong and terribly busted...Our lives are little and we have falsely inflated self." (Isn't that my truth)

In giving thanks, it makes us smaller and Him bigger.

This is why our Moms In Touch prayer group has meant so much to me and why I really missed going last year: Thanksgiving.

It sets the tone, the mood of the group for the whole day and a whole new week and I come away (even with life's big burdens now heard) with a sense of joy and contentment and that He's got control and I can safely and happily let go.

It's because I've given thanks and heard the thankfulness of many others.

So I will begin my list.

Some things will go into my personal journal and some here.

But I think I can begin naming my one thousand gifts to be thankful for.



3 comments:

Jess said...

i LOVE that book! it's the inspiration for my next tattoo when i get up the courage to do another one. i'm going to get "why?" on my right wrist from the passage where she says, "why would the world need more anger, more outrage?"

Miriam said...

Thanks Melinda,
I needed to read this this morning. It was convicting as I sit here feeling sorry for myself and wondering yet again why as a mother I can't take a sick day. But there are so many things to be thankful for. And, as I tell my children all the time, complaining doesn't accomplish anything. I think your post may be instrumental in changing the mood of my whole day.
Thank you,
Miriam

Wendy said...

Very thoughtful post. When we moved up here 5 years ago, and I didn't want to, I was not only mad about moving. I was mad that my daughters' lives were passing by quickly and I was too mad to enjoy them! So I somehow, amidst the pain, decided to just be happy. Not gloriously, deliriously happy, (that would come after praying about it and forgiving my husband), but happy in the day-to-day stuff. It wasn't easy, but it totally changed my outlook on things. Things are better now, but I hope that the next time things get rough, I can remember to choose happiness. That was once such a foreign concept. But I did it, and you can too!