Resisting Joy (One Thousand Gifts) January 30, 2012
Resistance is futile… That’s how I felt about reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. My friend Gwen gave it to me so I figured I needed to read it. Not because I wanted to read it but because she gave it to me as a gift. I love giving and getting gifts so I think it’s important to show appreciation for gifts (that way you get more. hehe).
My first hesitation was the cover. It’s super pretty but seems… well, not sassy. I got past that and started to read. I wanted to cry over the first chapter. I expressed my sadness while in the middle of a text conversation with someone while I was reading it… His ever-so-kind comment was, “well, stop reading it and watch TV like normal people.” But, again, this book was a gift; a gift from my mentor who would SURELY ask me if I’d read it. I kept going.
My beginning experience with One Thousand Gifts went something like this:
1. Pick up the book.
2. Read a few pages (flip ahead to see a good stopping point).
3. Be drawn in with a moving phrase.
4. Underline said phrase.
5. Put the book down to contemplate phrase.
6. Avoid the book for a few days.
7. Go back to #1 and start the process again.
I’m sure if my over-analytical mind gave it any thought I’d come up with the reason I kept avoiding reading. Things like it’s really artsy/poetic and that’s hard for me to read. The pictures Voskamp paints with her words boast with beauty. She also takes 20 words to describe everything when 5 will do.
It all changed when I read, “This, I think, this is the other side of prayer.”
Hold. The. Phone. There is an “other side of prayer”?
I read on, “This act of naming grace moments, this list of God’s gifts, moves beyond the shopping list variety of prayer and into the other side. The other side of prayer, the interior of His throne room, the inner walls of His powerful, love-beating heart. The list is God’s list, the pulse of His love – the love that thrums on the other side of our prayers… The true Love Dare. To move into His presence and listen to His love unending and know the grace uncontainable.”
Mother of pearl, from those words on I have been hooked on this book. As Voskamp names blessings throughout her book (she challenges herself to create a list of ordinary things for which she is thankful), I find myself naming my own.
2. I laugh at my fat cat snoring beside me.
3. I soak in the loving text from a friend.
4. I pour out that same love to another friend.
5. I smile at my “random list” challenge for an upcoming coffee.
And on and on and on…
6. Birthday cake candles.
7. Bible study on James.
8. A Carolina basketball win against a rival.
9. Birchbox arrival day.
10. James Taylor.
You see, there are times when a book is just a book. There are other times when a book has the power to reach even the most sassy of hearts with the richness of poetic joy. And that is why Gwen gave me the book in the first place. She maybe didn’t know it. She was following a leading from the Lord to have me read it. She didn’t know I’d avoid it. But, she did know I’d eventually read it and be changed.
There is nothing more that I as a Christ chaser (follower seems too lackadaisical today) wants more than to be in His presence every moment of every day. I want to be with Him through anything. I want Him to hold my hand, allow me a shoulder to lean on, and carry me when necessary. I yearn for Him. But, so many times I need help getting to Him. Engrossing myself into One Thousand Gifts continues to take me to Him.