Tuesday, October 8, 2013

And Then I Missed the Point

Gifts of Joy. I had good intentions. I wanted to demonstrate how gratitude leads to joy. However, I lost the point of the exercise after the first few weeks. Instead of a practice of the heart and mind, it became an assignment. A way to show cute, smiling children and other moments during my week where I happened to remember to snap a photo. 

Actually, I like the idea of sharing pictures from our weeks to show our far away story to our family and friends. But that is a different exercise. An exercise I may continue, but with a different title. 

After a few weeks of posting my gifts, I began to think something about it felt pretentious. You know, like I am trying to point out how grateful I am. Which I am grateful. Really, I am. But I want to share my gratitude in a way that is genuine.

I am about to read Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts" for the second time. The book is the foundation for counting gifts in the first place. It is the reason I need to review the exercise of gift counting. 

The point is not to show only the shiny, happy moments. The ones that look pretty and pulled together. For one thing, that is completely dishonest. My life is much more than pretty moments. My life is messy. It is full of poop and tears and dirty laundry. My days include whining, fighting, boredom and anxiety. I feel like I am failing and making all the wrong decisions so much of the time. Yes, I do have pretty moments. Kisses, smiling babies, sweet morning snuggles, food on the table, a beautiful home, a strong partner in this life. 

It is a crazy sweet mixture. But Voskamp's principal message is the more difficult task of finding joy in what she calls the beautiful ugly. In the moments that do not seem like gifts. Death, sickness, broken hearts, failure, disappointment. It is finding joy by being grateful even when life does not give us what we want. Even when life gives us things we aren't sure we can navigate. These are the moments I must also share. 

It isn't just pointing out the rainbow. It is being grateful for the storm even if the rainbow never arrives. It is being grateful for this life; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because let's face it, a lot of this life is ugly. It is easy to count the bad things and be discontent. It takes a much more determined soul to see the gifts in all life's moments and in turn be joyful. To live with joy regardless of circumstance. Joy in tears. Joy in pain. Joy in triumph. Joy in the mundane. Joy because we are given this day. 

I missed the point. I need to share my reality and then demonstrate the work of determined joy. Because whether easy or hard, this life is a gift. 

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