I’m grasping at every last second of my day, trying to pull as much together as I can, wishing I had more time, more moments, more days, that I didn’t have to sleep for need of those precious hours in my day. I need more life!
And I’m wishing time away, repeatedly checking the clock, killing time until I’m out of work, killing time until I’m finished with my schooling, killing time until I’m married and live happily ever after or–on bad days–until the Lord calls me home! Life hurts and I am failing. I am ashamed of where I am and hopeless about the future. Take this wretched life away!
Every day I find myself fighting this painful battle of desiring to appreciate the time gifted to me, trying to make the most of every moment, attempting to be as efficient as I can be with my limited resources–all the while finding myself so discontent, so ready for the next thing, so “done with life.”
Ann Voskamp (author of “One Thousand Gifts“) is as human as the rest of us and could certainly relate with the pain of life. But one night she had a very real-feeling dream that she was dying of cancer. In her dream she had to “wrap up the last of [her] living,” she had to shatter any dreams she had for later, she had to give up a hope of anything in the future–of a future at all.
She woke up, heart racing.
Funny, this. Yesterday morning, the morning before, all these mornings, I wake to the discontent of life in my skin. I wake to self-hatred. To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing… I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary… But this morning I wake wildly wanting to live.
Ann’s claim is that the way to live life to the fullest, the way to fulfill the desire of “wildly wanting to live,” the way to be passionate about what life offers, is to fully appreciate the minuscule blessings God has intentionally, carefully, and lovingly painted into our world.
Ann began with listing things she was thankful for. It started with a challenge to name 1,000 blessings in one day. Her results and reasons are terribly convincing.
I thought that if she could do 1,000, I could probably get to about 100. And so I started.
1. The salty crunch of pretzels.
11. Strawberries on waffles.
16. Bare feet in spring
25. Cold shower water turning warm.
34. Wind blowing just enough to threaten cold.
51. A cat scaring me at night.
77. Sun-tanned skin.
92. Recognizable voices.
Stopping to count blessings takes time–yes. So much time. I probably spend about 45 min/day trying to count to 100. And yet it also gives time. Because blessing-counting takes the time I was wishing away and causes me to hold it a little more carefully, preciously–more aware of the gifts even less-enjoyable time offers.
It gives me life. The kind of life I want more of. The kind of life I still passionately hope for, even in the hours I want to wish away. I live far more aware of the blessings, the noise of family in the house, the scent of a loved-one, the bare skin warmed by the golden sun rays, a good, sure sneeze.
This naming of blessings has led me to be genuinely grateful for things that at first I found frustrating: the impatience of waiting to see someone; the recognizing of my own emotions, even if they are powerful and unpleasant; the power outtage that led to a breakfast on the back deck.
Will you join me in literally counting blessings, writing them down, maybe 20/day, maybe 100/day, maybe 1,000/day? In choosing 100, it was an inconvenience enough that I actually had to change my daily routine to fit them in. But the more intentional you have to be, the more you’ll get from it. I set my goal for 30 days, as I desire to make the habit stick. But maybe you want to do one week or 10 days.
Will you join me in blessing-counting? Will you go out of your way to appreciate the things in life that, if you found you were dying much sooner than anticipated, would be the things that you really wished to see more of?