Warning, this might ramble.
Tonight was the first class of One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp at church. I've had the book a couple years, and read it once. I get her FB posts as well. Her writing is lyrical, like poetry or music.
In watching the accompanying video, Ann mentioned briefly about suffering from Agoraphobia.
I understand. Let me explain.
Agoraphobia (as defined by Ann): the fear of being in a place (or a situation) that you cannot easily escape from.
Yes, I too have agoraphobia. My situation (there are many, but I'll share one, for brevity) is my Dh's kidney disease. Right now, he sits at 22% function. He won't likely get sick until he's down to 10%, but b/c of the nature of this disease, we know it is coming (barring an intervention from God).
He will have to go on dialysis (which people live on for years, but his health could decline in other ways), and one day (if it comes) a kidney transplant (which brings issues of its own).
This hangs like a cloud over me some days. Usually, I'm able to push the fear away "leaving it in God's hands" and go about my day. But am I really leaving it with God, or using that as a platitude, a bandaid for the fear? Meanwhile, the fear remains, buried. And my trust in God does not grow, but gets tangled up in worry that manifests itself in other ways. Short temper, bitterness, lack of prayer, more...
1000 Gifts urges us to see the blessings and joy in EVERYTHING, and to be THANKFUL for everything. Well. That shoots a barb in my heart. I am not always thankful for everything, and I realized that there are some gifts that I just don't want.
Those gifts that come from pain, from suffering. My husband may have a difficult path ahead of him. It will affect our family, perhaps in not so happy ways. But there will be blessings in that, indeed the suffering itself can be a blessing.
Will I see it? Will I give thanks for that pain and hardship? Or will I keep my hands tightly clenched, refusing to accept the gifts, mercy and blessings that will surely be part of the package?
We can't receive (or give) anything with hands shut. We have to open them, taking everything that God offers to fully experience joy. How do we learn to do that? By being thankful for EVERYTHING, all the time. All. The. Time. Not just the big stuff: family, home, job, freedom.
But also the little things. Shadows on an old hardwood floor. A line of ants over the ground. The new green of grass breaking through the dry, brown old. The feel of tree bark on your hand. Breathing in the crisp, cold air of January morning. Extra jam on toast, the smell of fresh baked bread. The color of our sons blue eyes.
Those are the easy things, of course. We could easily list 1000 of those, they are all around us. But how often do we think to be thankful (Eucharisteo) for the hard, ugly stuff?
The kidney disease. The glaucoma, the diabetes. The money that never goes far enough. The car that's on it's last legs and then breaks down. The house that isn't worth repairing (and no money even if it was), the death of your only son (a family in my church went through this and is living and breathing thankfulness through their pain). Could we? Could I?
What blessings would open to me though such thankfulness? How much would I brim over with God's love and blessings until it had no choice but to spill over to everyone around me? How awesome would that be?
Am I brave enough? Can I open my hands and be grateful for all that my Father gives me, b/c he will never give a stone in place of bread to his beloved child? Can I trust? Is thankfulness the way to grow that faith and trust?
I'm going to try to find out. I'm going to list my own 1000 (or more, or less) gifts, being sure to mention all aspects of this life I've been given. To find the joy in the hard things, and open my hands, not only to receive, but to give.