I am sure that–like me–you have those times when you feel a little aimless. I am naturally a goal-oriented, meaning seeking, creature. Down time is not something I am comfortable with. If work is finished then chores or projects need my attention. If the mood to clean hasn’t struck, then perhaps it’s time to read something edifying. I cannot count the number of times I have reached over the bookcase for a battered copy of essays by Emerson that I snatched from a free book box in the 9th grade. I don’t like to live in those spaces in between doing things. I’ve struggled with being still my entire life.
This struggle has intensified since graduating college…the first time and the second. Frustration is a near constant companion of mine. Sometimes, I feel like my entire life is being played out in one of those “in between” spaces. Wasted time. Wasting time. Killing time? I don’t know. All I know is that I am always waiting for the next thing. The job that will give me that elusive sense of fulfillment, the house that will give me creative space and a garden. I live in anticipation. It isn’t a fun place. In fact, I think it is a dangerous place because it numbs us to the most important state of living, thankfulness.
I’ve recently begun Amy Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. In her second chapter a passage struck a chord with me because it held sentiments that I understand so well:
“I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary…It’s the in between that drives us mad.”
Oh, now! I could sympathize with that statement one thousand times! I live in fear that I am wasting time. I am not doing enough. I am not enough. But, that’s just not true. I’m just striving after the wrong things. And, you probably are too. If we look around and appreciate the wonderful, crazy, beautiful things that make up our lives, we can stop striving and find what we need right where we are.
Voskamp, is a Christian writer approaching life from a Christian perspective, but I think her words and thoughts are valuable to anyone. So many cultures teach that gratitude brings peace. And, Voskamp does a lovely job of breaking down the Greek word Eucharisteo to show that grace and joy can both be found in the word for Thanking–Eucharisteo. Even more convicting, she shows that the ultimate form of thanksgiving, the eucharist, is made up of ordinary daily things. Bread and wine. If you want to live fully, to find joy, grace, and peace then you have to choose to live in a state of thankfulness. You cannot take the wonderful, mad, scary, fantastic things in your life for granted. Of course, my battered old copy of essays had been trying to tell me that for years.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”-R.W. Emerson