As I'm reading through Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts," I am consistently inspired to keep searching for more. I go through my days, dialogue with myself in my head, thinking, 'how can I see this moment for what it truly is?' Each moment is different, each occurrence in my daily life either sings or whispers beauty, whether it's a good moment or a bad one. And I am challenged as of late to find beauty in the bad ones. Ann calls them the Ugly Beautiful.
In the past few days there have been several bad moments that jump out at me. The beauty is there, whispering on soft tongue, but I am straining, have strained, to find it. A son with a consistently bad attitude. Where can I find beauty? In his searching eyes, his knowing I am his mama and he is my son and he's walking dangerous lines with his words. Yesterday, brief exchanges of reality with my second mother in law, forcing me to acknowledge the truth of things, cutting and scarring all over again, and yet....yet...freeing, somehow. The late evening, my daughter entrenched in the throws of Lyme disease, hallucinating, crying, frightened. What can I do with this? I am blessed to hold her, when she'll let me, to realize that I do not have the control....that God does. And then, late late hours of the night, fighting. Husband reeling in anger over something so trivial. Harmful words float out, unable to be wrangled back in. Prayer. Healing, if only for one at the moment.
As I have traveled through the past year in a darkness I have never known, steeped in the emotions that try so relentlessly to govern my life (and I allow them many times), I have missed all the gifts in moments like these. I have allowed myself to be drowned by anger, sadness, disappointment. Expectations of myself have been too high. Irrational thoughts upon myself too binding. And, even rational expectations of others still too much as the disappointment seeps and slithers and I am left wanting. Too many instances of realizing that not everything I desire is attainable.
The Lord blesses us in so many ways. It's easy to bask in the glorious sunset and feel the might of a gracious Lord who would paint such a beautiful varying tapestry for us to enjoy every single night. It's easy to look into the bluest eyes of your child snuggled in your lap, feeling the Love He has created in the bond of motherhood. But what of the dark gray clouds that often mar that sunset, or angry hot tears in those innocent blue eyes? Beauty, still, and I'm challenged to find it. In those moments, God is whispering, deeply; in the silence He calls. We answer with thanksgiving if we are listening with bended ear, knowing and acknowledging these spirit-filled gifts. Seeing the sunlight through the gray.
Today I reached the recording of my 100th gift. A far cry from a thousand but I am still moving forward, anxious and eager to lap up every ounce of every gift I can find. And I am sure there have been so very many I have completely missed. I have randomly posted several of my gifts on my Facebook timeline for others to enjoy reading, if they want. I decided that if I can remember (because my brain is so crazy), I would like to give something to someone for each set of 100 gifts I write down. I don't know what that something will be, but I hope the Holy Spirit inspires me to give the perfect needed thing to the specific person who needs it.
In the meantime, I encourage anyone reading this to start your own journal of thanksgiving. Challenge yourself to look even in the most difficult moments to find the gift(s) that are buried there. Find the beauty even in the ugly and you will also find much joy.