Thankful For What I Have…Thankful For What I’ve Escaped
I am nearing the end of my One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann Voskamp. It holds 60 devotionals, and I’ve read through them slowly, savoring each one, because Ann’s writing is like poetry and I never want the book to end. And yet, here we are at the end. I have one more to read tomorrow and then I’m done.
There’s a place in the back of the devotional to list your own gifts. One to 1,000: the blank pages are there just waiting to become a catalogue of gratitude and grace and beauty. And though I’ve had the book for a few months now, I’ve only filled in 110 lines of the 1,000. That’s not to say I’m not grateful. Since I became familiar with Ann’s work, I’ve become grateful for just about everything around me, big and small. Through her gift of writing, God has helped me to see clearly for the first time the embarrassment of riches all around me. I suppose somewhere along the way of documenting my gifts, I got busy and simply stopped remembering to write them down.
Being a bit of a reflective soul, this morning I flipped through the pages of my 110 gifts I’ve documented so far. It brought a smile to my face. Some in blue ink…some in black ink…each one holding its own special memory.
The sweet man in the wheelchair who held the door for me and mom.
Morning walks at the ranch.
Week two on the New York Times Bestseller list!
And then, there on line 100:
Finally being free of him (9/15/14)
You see, I started this devotional months ago (over the summer, to be exact) when I was going through a bit of a challenging season. I was in a relationship for the first time in years and yet even though I finally had everything I’d thought I’d always wanted…my soul felt empty. Lost. Bereft, even. What was wrong? Hadn’t I loved this guy for as long as I could remember? Why, then, once we finally found our hearts in the same place at the same time did mine feel…disconnected?
The answer would come much later…on 9/15/14, to be precise. But surely…surely…since I was keeping this journal of gratitude during this relationship, even as ill-fated as it was…SURELY I had expressed my gratitude for him somewhere in the 110 gifts I had remembered to list. (Surely.)
I flipped back through the list.
Sweet tea in mason jars
Giggles from my nieces
But no…nowhere among the gifts did I list his name.
The only time, in fact, that I mentioned him anywhere on my gratitude list at all was to note how thankful I was to be free of him. On September 15, 2014. Also known as the day he finally shattered my heart enough to wake me up.
Evidently, though…I had been more awake the whole time than I realized.
An eight-year on-again, off-again relationship…a main character in my second book…the man I thought was the great love of my life…and not once in 110 gifts did I list his presence in my life. The gift came instead, in his absence.
Oh, how the truth finds a way to come out, despite our denial and our own stubbornness and even the cries of our own hearts!
It turns out that I did not consider him a gift. I did not consider the relationship a gift.
I considered the end of the relationship a gift.
And it was.