Earlier this year I read a book entitled One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. In this book Ann tells her story of learning gratitude – of finding joy in the everyday moments of life. A friend of hers dared her to make a list of 1000 blessings, gifts if you will. She accepted the dare and began her list. From the large blessings to the small, Ann wrote down gift after gift and soon found that there was great joy in doing so. This wasn’t an entirely foreign idea to me. I’d heard of people keeping gratitude journals as a way to remind themselves of the many blessings God had given to them.Reading through the first few chapters of this book deepened my understanding of what it means to be thankful. As I said before, I knew I always had things to be thankful for. I had food in my refrigerator, a roof over my head, clothes to wear, a paycheck coming in every week. But Ann was going beyond those obvious gifts and thanking God for small, less obvious things – like the “cry of the blue jay,” “morning shadows across the old floors,” and “kettle whistling for tea on a cold afternoon.” I remember thinking to myself, “Really? I’m supposed to be thanking God for things like shadows and a tea kettle?”But her writing really resonated with me. I decided to take the challenge myself and started my own list. I won’t lie – as I began to look for and record my own gifts, I struggled. A lot. Some days a lot of really good things would happen and I’d find it easy to record multiple blessings that day. Then there were days where something very trivial would happen that just completely made my day, and I did find that taking just a moment to thank God for that seemingly insignificant blessing really did add a measure of joy to it.
Oddly enough, the days that were the easiest to record gifts were the days that I was really discouraged or struggling with my health. The habit I’d developed of finding things to be thankful for despite negative circumstances made me quickly switch from pity-party mode to gratitude mode, and I was able to look at my day and find those blessings.
The days that were the hardest? The ‘normal’ days. The days where I’d wake up, work for eight hours, do some things around the house and go to bed. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. I’d get to the end of the day and realize I hadn’t once thought about thanking God for anything. These were the days that required me to slow down and pay closer attention to the little things.
This is how we find joy in the everyday moments of life – by taking time to thank God for the little things? I began writing down gifts like “the sound of our electric can opener,” “my favorite socks,” “bubbly apple pies in the oven.”
But even as I wrote these things, the thought “Does God really care that I like these socks?” ran through my mind. I kept at it though and soon had dozens of gifts added to my list, though I honestly felt a bit awkward thanking God for such trivial things.Who does not thank for little will not thank for much. – Estonian Proverb