Will Increased Thanks = More Joy?

That is the question I look forward to researching myself over the next several months. I have recently returned from a 12-day spring break vacation/college touring experience with my family, and during that time, I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I know I’m late getting to the party, as this book was on the New York Times bestseller list for a crazy long 60-weeks, and it just hit one million copies sold. This was not a book I received from Booksneeze, but one of two I picked up independently to read while away.

If you’ve read my bio, you know that I’m a true non-fiction reader. If I’m needing “escape”, I’ll turn on the television. Therefore, after I had finished the book, I was surprised to read that the criticisms of One Thousand Gifts have centered upon Voskamp’s ‘poetic voice’, ‘too many metaphors’ and ‘long descriptions’. Usually, you’ll find this type of writing in novels and I’m the first to close the book. I’m impatient with all the flowery-stuff and just want information. So, I wondered how I could have fallen so head over heels for this treasure that I’m presently re-reading.

As I turned the final pages of One Thousand Gifts, I leaned back into the chair I was in at my father-in-law’s place in Florida, and had two immediate thoughts:

1) Do I even know Him? I was overwhelmed by Voskamp’s willingness to pursue God at the depth she does.
2) I too began searching for God in the endless, seemingly small things as I hadn’t before. I was practicing eucharisteo at a baby-level and didn’t begin writing anything down until last week.

I don’t know if my new decision to record 1000 gratitudes on paper will elicit the same joy, adventure and peace as it did for Ann Voskamp. I hope it will, because like her, “I am a woman who speaks but one language, the language of the fall – discontentment and self-condemnation, the critical eye and the never satisfied.” (Page 46).

I wouldn’t classify myself as a gloomy person by any stretch, but I can definitely lean toward the serious, joke that I’m humor-challenged (thank God my kids have a well-developed sense of humor!), and often believe that I should be experiencing more joy. Without a doubt, I have been ungrateful for what I do have, often laser-focusing on what I ‘should have’ but don’t. This is not pressed upon me by anyone. I “self-condemn” all on my own. I usually see a better way of doing many things, and while that “critical eye” is valuable in my professional work, on a personal level, it simply increases the “never-satisfied”. After reading One Thousand Gifts, I’m fairly confident that my discontentment is attached to my ingratitude.

Although my daily life is strikingly dissimilar to Ann Voskamp’s, there are threads of sameness that all of us as parents feel – the routine; the often mundane; the wish for more joy but the inability to capture it while immersed in the time consuming family responsibilities. Throughout this past week, I have (coincidentally?) come across no less than four other affirmations that this relationship is real between thankfulness and contentment.

Beyond the search for thankfulness in everything – even the “hard eucharisteo”, Ann openly shares the journey of her deepening faith over the months numbering gratitudes. She reveals the slow overcoming of a painful childhood, and confusing and self-condemning young adult life. Immediately in Chapter 1 she acknowledges believing the same lies we often do:

“..that God withholds good from His children, that God does not genuinely, fully, love us.”

“…(that we are) discontented with what He’s given…I have desired more.”

“If He truly, deeply loves me, why does He withhold…”

She is also generous to show us that the daily challenges remain, despite the new found joy in thanksgiving. The daily challenges are now viewed in the light of gratitude.

With my newly begun list sitting at a mere 33, I confess that I’m enjoying the “chase” as Ann calls the hunt for gratitudes. I also don’t need much prodding to write in fresh notebooks, like most other writers/bloggers reading this post! If you’ve read One Thousand Gifts, I welcome all of your thoughts about the book.

34. For the small blog I keep; the visitors and commenters; the followers, and the interesting people I communicate with across the globe. 🙂

Ann Voskamp’s daily blog.

Image linked to One Thousand Gifts on amazon:

AnnVoskamp

Ann Voskamp, Author