Chapter Seven Video Discussion with Ann Voskamp
Ann sets the stage of this chapter telling about a little spat that her sons had that ended with one of them throwing toast in the other's face. Our gut reaction in these most frustrating situations is to get angry and yell. I know living with my sweet little nut it is a constant prayer to maintain my temper in the nitty gritty moments. I love the quote on page 125 because it is a constant thought in my daily life.
"How do I have the holy vision in this mess? How do I see grace, give thanks, find joy in this sin-stinking place....(bottom of page 125) What compels me to name these moments upheavals and annoyances instead of grace and gift? Why deprive myself of joy's oxygen?"Wouldn't life be so much simpler if our gut reaction was to stop, take a breath and name our gratitude to God. Why is that we our wired to quickly get mad or frustrated? What are we giving into when we let the quick temper flare without a second thought? The paragraph at the top of page 127 was probably one of the most convicting chapters I have read in this book.
"Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love? That Satan's way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus' way? Why else get angry? Isn't it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me up into the full life I really want? When I choose - and it is a choice - to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of Darkness? Choosing the angry way of Lucifer because I think it is more effective - more expedient - than giving thanks?"Tough one...eh? My gut reaction is a choice. Bottom line. I may be wired to turn to anger more quickly than eucharisteo, but in the end I have control over my tongue. I need to stop, slow to speak, and name my gratitude. Maybe with time and prayer I can make this my gut reaction instead of the ugly, griping, angry woman who chooses not to glorify God and find gratitude in a moment of great opportunity.
God is here with us, right? If he is here than we need to expect to see Him even in the ugly. Ann uses a passage from Matthew 14:19 where Jesus looked up to heaven before giving thanks for the loaves. She reminds us that it is "always first the eyes, the focus". If in the ugly moments my focus is on Him rather than myself, can't I find the gratitude? It is "not a matter of circumstances, it's a matter of focus".
"All the world is a window. No material is opaque. If we are willing to see - people, circumstances, situations, relationships - all is transparent. All of this globe is but glass to God."
As they echoed in the video, we use giving thanks in order to keep the gaze on heaven. It takes discipline. You are only going to drive out the nail of anger with another nail...nail down your gratitude to God. This is something I must continually work on. I don't think it will ever be like riding a bike, but somewhere down the road I hope it is closer to second nature.
"The practice of giving thanks...eucharisteo...this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see."There are so many wonderful things from this chapter that really convicted me and reminded me of how God is constantly refining us. When I ask Him to guide me down the struggles in my life, often I find Him gently pointing me in the direction of change in my own life to give more glory to Him. I have found so much relief in the practice of numbering my eucharisteo, but this chapter reminds me that the discipline is more than recording my eucharisteo....I must live it.
Want to catch up on past One Thousand Gifts post? Check them out here!