One Thousand Gifts: Chapter Three

Practice begins with a lot of Pushing

First flight

chapter three

I am woman who speaks but one language, the language of the fall – discontentment and self-condemnation, the critical eye and the never satisfied.  P46

We all are Ann.  We all have this inner voice that tells us we are no good, how do we learn to listen to the other voice? The one that tells us and SHOWS us, over and over and over again, that He loves us? The Voice of the Spirit that fills our insides with nudges of grace, to open our eyes, to seek opportunity, to be able to love? Why do we so often listen to the voice of the fall? The one whose favorite refrain is you are not good enough and you will never be? As you pointed out Ann, Paul DID discover it:

for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Philippians 4:11-12 NIV, emphasis mine

I yearn for the stuff of saints, the hard language, the fluency of thanksgiving in all, even the ugliest and most heartbreaking… Some days, ones with laundry and kids and dishes in sink, it is hard to think that the insulting ordinariness of this truly teaches the full mystery of the all most important, eucharisteo. It’s so frustratingly common – it’s offensive. P55

I start the day with promise, and fail before my foot hits the floor.  Even with grace being new every morning, I fail from the outset – and the failing creates guilt, frustration that I pour out on my family – instead of the grace that I so WANT to be a part of my motherhood and wifehood. I let those voices of the fall fill my head, instead of seeking out the Love and Grace of a Father who adopted me Just As I Am.  How do we learn to follow, to fill our aching, gaping holes with love? Let our walls to protect our vulnerability release into pure communion? Ah, we take all those “frustratingly common” experiences of the every day and PRACTICE being grateful. Ah, Brother Lawrence, I may need to re-read you. Practicing in the little things provides us the opportunity to SEE the WHOLE of how much we are LOVED. And when we are so convinced we are loved, we can be joyful, free of the voice of the fall, free to love and be vulnerable to be loved.

I had never practiced. Practiced until it became the second nature, the first skin. Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation. Practice, practice, practice. P56

Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy. P57

I’ve stated before about the conversation with Jim or Todd (bass guitarist or drummer? Or was it both?) and how my prayers weren’t asking God the “right” questions. That in my deep depression I was focused on external (aka boy) attention and completely ignored all the attention God was lavishing on me. The opening of my eyes to start SEEING how much God loves me, pulled me out of the pit of despair, and into the recognition of being loved. Adored. Held by a Father who wants to lavish gifts upon me:

It really is a dare to name all the ways that God loves me… To move into His presence and listen to His love unending and know the grace uncontainable. P59

And in this time of my life, where I have lost control of all that I used to define myself, or at least attempt to DO to make myself feel like an OKAY MOMMA, has been taken away from me. I am left in a state of humble circumstances where friends and family have to fold my underwear and wipe my children’s bottoms. Where my father-in-law vacuums my bedroom and my mother-in-law washes my toilets. Where my husband comes home from a long day at work to prepare a meal for starving children.  So what do I do in this time? How do I keep from going crazy, from crying all day long at the losses?

Well, I don’t succeed at anything. I practice. I practice giving thanks (and there are days when the other voice wins out). I practice by memorizing scripture, or praying, or reading. I practice BEING as doing has been taken from me. And, you know what I have found? All this reading and writing is not enough practice for me. I still raise my voice at my children, spend more time correcting them than praising them. I spend too much time telling them what they should be doing, rather than just enjoying them.

Part of the practice of list making, the practice of naming the gifts – the God loves me Gifts – is allowing it to change my heart, and when all I can do is from a supine or side-lying position, the practice is feeble. I realize how poorly I’m allowing thanksgiving to change me as soon as I open my mouth.

I need more practice. More acceptance of grace to spill into the grace I give my children, my husband. I need to say thank you more often, not only to God, but to my family who has taken over my household chores and duties, my friends who visit and clothe my belly, my yet-to-meet sister-friends who fill me with encouragement and hope and bless me with intercession when my frustration with circumstances start to feel like too much. Because THEN is when Philippians, Romans, Jeremiah, Psalms… when the memorized verses start to be the voice that fills me. And I gather strength from those prayers to pick up my Bible, my pen, my journal and start rejoicing.

And really, what mother of children wouldn’t love a little break in bed and have other people take care of everything for her? Including bringing her plates heaped with fresh fruit and veggies, casseroles and stews, and hot cups of coffee? I have it pretty lush…

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A Holy Experience
One Thousand Gifts

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