This is the fifth and final post in the series: How I got here.
I’ve talked about a few things so far: coming to terms with how you’re wired, vulnerability, understanding your needs, dreaming in doubt, finding your tribe, and making moves. Tonight I want to talk about gratitude, and how it’s been one of the biggest movers and shakers in my story. Over a year ago, my friend gave me the book 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Ann’s writing is poetic and strong. Her gratitude that came from the aching of her bones produced joy and it just made sense to me. The practice of giving thanks every day for all of the things in between the mountain tops produced a clearer and more joyful heart — yes, I can connect those dots. Ann doesn’t write about trusting God likes it’s simple. She doesn’t recite a verse and hope that it would persuade me to have hope. Instead, she speaks from her desperate heart. She tells us of a time when all she seemed to feel were ugly things, and how writing down the gifts in her life made the light come to life. And she found freedom.
There is, of course, more to her book… but you’ll have to read it. And then start writing down all the things you are grateful for only to find light come through the cracks of the darkness. Trust me, you’ll see.
I think that this process works because we are pausing to recognize the light in our lives. And our hearts yearn for light. We want love, connection, fulfillment, purpose — all of these things are light. Darkness shuts us down, makes us weak, and paralyzes us. A great night with friends makes us feel alive, a coffee date with a loved one feels like a weight lifted, and a long drive in the country while your favorite album plays makes you feel like you’re flying. When we pause to write these things down, document the moments or the things that add light to our lives, we are letting our souls breathe. When we are mindful of God’s grace and point it out in our lives, I think we’re participating in life as it’s meant to be.
After this season in my life, I see that gratitude brings freedom and freedom is where we belong. Freedom doesn’t mean perfection. It doesn’t mean everything is going well, and it definitely doesn’t mean I have nothing more to work on.
It means that I am not bound by those things. It means grace defines my day, not shame or striving. When I open my eyes to the grace, make gratitude lists, and take time to pause, I can make choices in freedom instead of reacting to shame.
I still find myself striving. I still define my success by hours worked and to-do list completed. I still view my life through the eyes of others and spend time wishing a thousand things different. It’s human. But then grace happens to me. And all I can do is put my tired hands down, rest, and let go of the saboteurs I’ve put on pedestals in my head.
I’ve had this post planned out for four weeks now, but it’s been so hard to write. Not because it’s difficult to share but because it’s so hard to explain. Perhaps all I can say is: start being mindful of the things in your day that make you smile, write them down, and see what begins to happen.