How do you deal with bad days? In the midst of those moments, it’s easy to feel like things will never get better. The emotion clouds our perspective.
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When our daughters were toddlers, my wife would read them Judith Viorst’s wonderful little book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Poor little Alexander had a bad day not because bad things happened. As it turns out, those things happen to everybody. It was a problem of perspective.
When we look at our lives, we tend to rubberneck the wrong direction.
Ultimately, our problem is with God. But we don’t say that. We’ll point to people as the reason pain lurks in our lives. Parents, bosses, children, spouses, and even the devil has his part to play. If God would only bring relief, all would be well.
It’s a problem of perspective, not of circumstance. We need God’s perspective.
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Most of us don’t have time to stop and talk. We just can’t afford to. After all, we’re paid to produce, we have tasks to perform, and slowing down is counterproductive. But there’s an exception.
Not long ago at work I was in the middle of a very busy day, walking through a department I seldom set foot in. I saw a coworker working alone at his computer—totally in the zone. I kept walking and then it hit me, I wonder when the last time somebody thanked him for the good work he does?
A dozen good reasons to just keep walking raced through my mind, and I literally walked out of the room.
But then I heard another voice.
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At first, this book felt hard to read. Short sentences. Choppy phrases. At times, random-sounding thoughts strung together like Pascal’s Pensees. Profound but disjointed. Like reading poetry. Not an easy speed-read.
The book has more periods per square inch than most books I’ve read. As a person in a hurry, the many periods of punctuation came like speed bumps, forcing me to slow down. When I did, I found a gift.
Writers do their best thinking with a pen, and One Thousand Gifts reveals Ann Voskamp as a deep thinker. She writes her book around the theme gleaned from Greek verb, euchartiseo, a term that means “to give thanks.” She introduces the theme early and repeats it in every chapter—so much so that you can open the book anywhere and be blessed. The book could be half as long and still as profound.
Every breath’s a battle between grudgery and gratitude and we must keep thanks on the lips so we can sip from the holy grail of joy. —Ann Voskamp
One Thousand Gifts reminds us that contentment begins and continues by giving thanks for the blessings right in front of you. Ann did this by writing a list of 1000 “gifts” from daily life for which she is thankful.
Writing the list is a wonderful idea because it causes you to constantly look for new additions for the list. This daily assignment shapes a renewed mind, habitually searching life for reasons to thank God instead of for excuses to complain.
From the everyday context of mothering, Ann gives us the simple principle that the life we’re looking for is right in front of us—right where we are.
There are thousands of gifts from God if we will only insert many more periods in the sentences of each day.