I’ve heard, as I’m sure you have, that taking time each day to count your blessings has all sorts of positive benefits. It’s been written about, studied, experimented with and videoed. Yet for some reason we need to experience a truth in our own lives for it to really take root and grow into an inward reality that we can build on.
Last June I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I had found the Joy Dare on her website in May and decided to read the book in order to get the full story. Her writing style is beautiful, poetic and painted a real picture of what gratitude is and why it’s necessary in our lives. She builds her case by relaying how this truth has impacted her own life so powerfully.
My heart resonated with her story as she laid bare her struggles. She recounts her life full of fear and anxiety. As a former sufferer of anxiety and panic with mistrust at the root, I longed to fill in some of those cracks in my heart with the certainty and security I had struggled to fully grasp for so many years.
In a college journal I had written “I don’t want to go downhill anymore. I want to improve. I know that God will not fail me if I put full trust in him. I’ve got to do that first though. I want to let go of that tiny piece of me that will not trust & give over.” Years continued to fall off the calendar as I longed to trust God and live fully but struggled to make it reality in my life.
“Jean Pierre Caussade: ‘When one is thirsty one quenches one’s thirst by drinking, not by reading books which treat of this condition’. If we are dying of thirst, passively reading books about water quenches little; the only way to quench the parched mouth is to close the book and dip the hand into water and drink bring it to the lips. If we thirst, we’ll have to drink. I would have to do something.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
I had begged God to fix me and make me whole while never living as though He had. Actions reflecting the beliefs I professed were required for me to get better. Thanksgiving is a way…THE way to battle fear and mistrust.
Fearlessness is not the opposite of fear…love and gratitude are. And they are what fuels our courage.
It’s impossible to give thanks and simultaneously feel fear. This is the anti-anxiety medicine I try to lay in my wide-open palm every day. Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Daily taking time to do the Joy Dare and focus specifically on the gifts and the gift giver in even the small moments has been transformative for me in several ways:
- The lens through which I view the moments of each day is different because I’m counting each one as a gift from God to me.
- When I’m counting the gifts, the heart of the giver becomes clear…He really does LOVE me.
- When I begin KNOWING His goodness in my life…ALL things can be counted as gift because He is ALL GOOD.
- Time slows down as you stop to count the moments and consider the gift that they are. What an added benefit…to slow time!
- I have a written record of His goodness to me in different moments over the last 15 months.
- My trust has grown…how can I not trust when His love is proven and each moment is evidence?
- I cannot feel fear and thankfulness at the same time. Counting gifts is the sword I have used to battle fear.
The easiest way for you to experience truth of God’s love and goodness to you is to start the Joy Dare for yourself. I start with the daily prompt and then go on to fill a page of everything I can remember over the last 24 hours. Nothing is too big or small. Each day is like no other and my goal with my daily list is to capture the unique fingerprint of each 24 hour spin by keeping my lists very specific.
- Think of the sights, smells, words, touches in the last 24 hours.
- What have you experienced with those inside your home and outside?
- What can you see, hear, smell, feel in this exact moment?
- What made you laugh or cry?
- What is something you would really miss if it wasn’t there tomorrow?
- What are some gifts that are eternal and you won’t ever have to do without?
- Is there a lesson you learned?
- A song you enjoyed…even danced too?
From time to time I’ll be sharing my Joy Dare for the day with you here. I hope you’ll come back and we can have a big old LOVEfest lavishing in the gifts we get the grace to enjoy each day!