A week ago I finished reading One Thousand Gifts for the second time. I’m positive it impacted me just as much reading it the second time around. I realize that I still have so much growth and change I want to see in my attitude and heart. My gift journal sits tallied at 960 gifts. Soon my 1000 gifts goal will be reached. Now that I’m nearing the end of the challenge, I’ve decided that I am not finished. I will not stop counting. The journal is long and I will fill it. I will keep counting the blessings of the Lord and daily remind myself how active the Creator is in my life. Gift counting has opened my eyes in a lot of ways, but I know that I’m not there yet. Not where I want to be. I will keep counting until I get there or until I die… I guess I’ll be counting for a while in that case!
A certain portion of the book stood out to me this time as I read it. I think it was the key to why I still struggle to find joy while counting gifts. The counting of the gifts is supposed to bring joy to life and it does, but I wanted more joy. I want deeper joy. Something else had to be the issue. Ann’s words hit me hard as I read, “My own wild desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills my joy.” Wow, that is me. I try to protect my joy. I don’t want it to be tainted or stolen so I hold on to it so tightly that I kill it with my force.
Ann uses the example of a flame. When I try to protect my joy from life’s trials, I’m keeping God’s oxygen away from my flame. In order to let the flame breathe, I need to let go. I need to understand that I will be emptied. When my hands are open to God and His will then joy will be fanned into flame. Ann puts it best when she says, “The secret of joy’s flame: Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control… let go of my own way, let go of my own fears.” Again, I just sit here dumbfounded! I need to let go. I can never do enough or control enough to keep my own joy. All the doing and the trying and the holding is what is extinguishing joy’s light in my life.
Ann goes on to say, “I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.” It all comes down to trust. I know from counting gifts that God is good and He loves me. I know that trust is truly believing and living my faith. To not trust God says that I don’t really believe what I say. Can I trust? Can let go and be empty? These are the questions that I wrestle with and desperately want to say YES to…
In one short sentence Ann sums it up, “Only self can kill joy.” Here I’ve been blaming this and that. I’ve been pointing my fingers at external sources. I didn’t realize it, but now I see it clearly. I’ve been killing my joy. I’ve been self-sabotaging living life to the fullest. It’s me! I’m to blame. Not my circumstances. Joy is found in letting go… dying to myself… accepting the hard along with the good.
Like I said before, I am not there yet. Light bulb moments don’t bring instant change to life. They shed light, but it’s up to me to do something with that I find. I know that this change of heart and mind will take practice and will be a repetition of getting it right and getting it wrong. More than ever, I am determined! I will keep counting. I will keep my eyes open. I will let go. I desperately want joy!