I know it’s been a while since I’ve mentioned where I am with counting gifts. It seems like the first 1000 is so exciting and because of that I never want to stop after it. My need for a gift journal break usually comes after counting to 2000. I’m now 30 gifts away from reaching 4000 and just like 2000, I think I might need a change of pace afterwards. It’s still so good for me. On my darkest days writing down gifts ministers to my soul. It pulls me out of those dark places and gives me a new perspective. It’s been so desperately good. Counting gifts has been a worthwhile habit for me to build into my life. I will admit that my writing down of gifts has started to go into spurts – a little here and a little there. I’m actually okay with the inconsistency. Gifts counting isn’t a science and it isn’t formula. The discipline of gift counting has awoken my soul to seeing things in the moment and saying thanks for them right away. I think because of counting, I am more thankful. I am able to the positive side of things again. Being a natural pessimistic, counting gifts is like rewiring my brain.
I start a Growth Group for church in February and the topic will be One Thousand Gifts. Even now I’m not sure how to communicate just how much this challenged has changed me. I guess people like before and afters – like before this project I was “fill in the blank here”, but now I am “…” I’m not even sure how to put it all. Possibly because I am in ministry and I’m not sure what to say because I don’t want to seem unholy or ungrateful or unhappy. I don’t want that to be my “before”. I’m not sure how to word it all. Being in leadership sometimes feels like you need a course in strategic phrasing – how to tell the truth without telling the whole story.
So here is my best testimony without all the details – Before I started counting gifts, I was close minded and inward focused. I let my story become the only thing that mattered and all I saw was my pain. When that is all you are looking at things get bleak and hopeless. Counting gifts has opened my eyes to God’s blessings in such an intimate way. Now I know that it’s not the big things that matter but the small. I also know that God is good no matter what my circumstances. There are always good gifts around if I am willing to look for them and see them. It’s about changing my position – instead of looking inward, it’s about looking outward. Instead of looking down, it’s about looking up.
I’m not really sure where this gift counting, thanksgiving lifestyle will lead me. It’s already helped me cope with more than I can possibly imagine. Now that doesn’t mean I float around in some form of holy happiness all the time. I still really struggle. In fact, this whole last week has been rather up and down for me. My emotions have been all over in a roller-coaster kind of a way. I think without counting gifts and building in new habits, I might not have had the ups I had this week. The downs might have out weighted it all. Gifts give hope and hope drives me to keep looking up even when things feel down.
I’m not sure how great I will be at leading others through this experience. It really is just pop in a DVD and discuss, but I don’t want that to be all that it is. I’ve learned so much and I don’t just want to sit on those lessons and keep them to myself. I want to share. I want encourage and inspire. I’m still counting and I hope that I can help others to start. It’s worth it in the long run. So worth it!