Friday, March 4, 2011

Thankfulness

Like many other readers, I am digesting Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts these days ( currently #9 on New York Times Bestsellers' list). My friend Kara first told me about it last week--that's how much I keep current with the NYT's list. Haha! She tried to summarize the main thrust of the book for me (and I think she did a pretty good job at that)..and then decided to lend it to me.

I am thoroughly enjoying it so far (thank you , Kara)!

I'm not at all saying that it has been an easy read (I'm on chapter 5)...or that I haven't had to wrestle with some of the stuff Voskamp suggests. I can totally understand how this book has become so controversial in Christian circles. And I am fairly certain that some of the people I respect greatly would feel uneasy about it. And about me reading it and enjoying it.

But, besides the fact that Voskamp writes so beautifully and vulnerably--which I absolutely love, I have enjoyed this book because it elevates thankfulness to its proper place in our lives as believers. Some might say she overemphasizes its importance...or isn't clear enough about Whom we should thank, but I beg to differ. I think she's giving us a vivid example of what it means to 'put off' discontentment by 'putting on' thankfulness (Colossians 3:5-17). And she does so in a very poetic way. In the likeness of her Maker, who happens to be the Author of the Psalms, Proverbs, Songs of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes...and all the major and minor prophets' writings.

What's more, Paul's writings are peppered with admonitions to 'be thankful'. He concludes his passage on 'putting off the old self" and 'putting on the new' with these verses:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Colossians 3: 15-17

It seems to me that thankfulness can help drive away a lot more than just discontentment....for why would Paul hone in on it after giving us the admonition to put off all sorts of evil practices? The list that Paul gives of evil practices in verse 8 of the same chapter isn't pretty: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech.

No. I don't think Voskamp overemphasizes thanksgiving, or Eucharisteo as she describes it. I think it's just so against our nature to be thankful...and so we need to really practice it. Over and over again...until it becomes second nature. Until we can see God's goodness in every little thing and be able to honestly... give thanks.

As for the Recipient of our thanks, I feel she states it plainly enough throughout her book. She clearly points to the cross early on in the book..and has mentioned the work of Christ several times already and I'm only on chapter 5. I'll keep looking for those. Hopefully, I'll feel the same way about her book after I'm done reading the last page.

Side note: My 6-year-old daughter apparently does not need to read this book. She's got thankfulness down pat. She starts every prayer with 'Thank you, God, for....' with no distinction whatsoever between what we would call a hardship and what we would appreciate as a blessing. We have had the tendency to want to correct her and tell her she needs to change her thanksgiving to a prayer request...when clearly it is a prayer request.

I've tried to back off lately...and let her do her thing.

Just this last week, she had a stomach bug that left her little bottom raw because of all the visits to the restroom. After a therapeutic soak and the usual bedtime routine, it was time to pray. She asked to pray first. Her very first line? "Thank you, God, for my bottom." I smiled right away..and then, as I thought about it some more, I started giggling. She opened her eyes and we exchanged a knowing look. She had done it again. And it was silly.

But it wasn't silly. It was perfect. Without knowing it, she was thanking God for a trial (James 1:2-4). And if her bottom hadn't been raw, to say such a thanks would have been just as much a blessing to me. She would essentially be saying, "Thank you God for the way You made me." Oh, I pray she will continue to pray the way she does...and that she'd really mean it too. That she'd really 'get it'. That I'd 'get it'.

Here's where I begin my thankful list, the 1,000 gifts:
1. I thank God for my sweet little girl who has taught me so much in more ways than one.

8 comments:

  1. I apologize for the spacing. I can't seem to be able to keep the blog from spacing out my paragraphs way too far from each other. Any suggestions how to correct that?

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  2. I have no idea how to help you with the spacing stuff. I've been blogging for 2 years and can barely figure out the basic stuff.

    I hadn't heard anything controversial about her book yet. I'll probably get around to reading that book soon. I like the idea :)

    Love your review of the book so far! You are a great writer.

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  3. It's been so fun to process this book with you...Becks...borrow it next and maybe you'll be walking by then and the three of us can go for a walk/talk together. :)

    I like your spacing.

    It's very Voskamp-ish...

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  4. Thanks for the encouragement. I kept trying to close the gaps between the paragraphs..but everytime I'd go back to viewing the post (after saving the changes), the spacing would be the same as before.
    Becks, I'll definitely pass it along. I'm heading up soon to read on. Kara tells me the more controversial parts are still to come...

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  5. I think I just figured out what I was doing wrong. I still can't figure out how to bring the posts closer to the heading at the top of the page, though.

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  6. Thank you God for my sweat and dandruff...

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  7. Oh Brielle:-) Our lives would all be less rich without her in them, I must say.

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  8. I heartily agree! She's a keeper!!! Thanks for checking us out, Meg.

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