Continued from here.
As my marriage improved through my obedience to God, the next area of sanctification came. My friend gave me Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, as a Christmas present in 2014. I found her writings to be powerful because of her authenticity. I had never read a Christian author who mentioned self-injury, which is something I once struggled with, and I could relate to the deep emotional pain that drives that behavior. (Note that this was something she mentioned in passing and is certainly not the focus of the book.)
The book is about Voskamp’s challenge to write down 1,000 things that she is thankful for and the transformation process that took place inside of her by doing this. As someone who did not even have the word gratitude in her vocabulary, this was a novel concept to me, and I took her up on her challenge. Voskamp said that sowing the seeds of thanksgiving reaps a harvest of joy, and she was right!
I soon realized that I was using what I had learned in Alex Kendrick’s and Stephen Kendrick’s book, The Love Dare, but going broader. As I shared here, the Love Dare taught me that the information I had stored about my husband in the “appreciation room” and the “depreciation room” of my heart was equally true. Voskamp challenged me to take this concept farther by applying it to every area of my life. By doing this, I experienced joy!
For example, when I sprained my thumb, my natural inclination was to complain about the pain and inconvenience of having a sprained thumb. However, it was equally true that I had nine perfectly functional fingers that did not hurt. It was my choice which to focus on – grumbling about the sprained thumb or thanksgiving about the other nine uninjured fingers. My choice determined whether I felt joyful or irritable.
I also learned through Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling that I could reframe annoying situations as opportunities to practice Christlikeness. For example, when I encounter technical issues with my computer, rather than grumbling about it, I can thank God for this opportunity to trust Him even more.
I used to be a very critical person. If everything didn’t go my way, I got frustrated and angry about it. I was a control freak, so even little deviations from the plan could ruin my day. However, as I have chosen to look for reasons to be thankful rather than focus on the reasons to be upset, I have experienced joy. This has been the key for me learning how to “rejoice always.”
[Graphic: Cover of Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts]