I have been soaking in several similar-themed books and Bible studies of late. But the most predominate of the bunch is Ann Voskamp's, 1000 Gifts.
I started reading this book right after Christmas, and I'm even a member of a book club where we meet and discuss the ways that this beautifully-expressed, lyrical book have impacted our hearts and changed our way of thinking.
If you have not yet read the book, you are missing out on a mind and spirit revolution. Voskamp encourages her readers to really make the attempt to "be grateful in every situation, but mostly in the everyday things that we so often run ramshod over in our attempts to get to the "good bits" of the day. No easy feat -- but it's one that brings joy into the journey of this life.
It's a revolution that is honing my thinking and reshaping how I view circumstances and events in my own quotidian life.
But beyond this central theme of gratitude, I have gleaned so much more from the book. As I have truly opened my heart and mind to receive from the words on the page and also God's nudges upon them, I have had some truly divinely-inspired moments.
One such moment happened last Monday as I read the final chapter of that night's meetings assigned reading. I so identify with Ann Voskamp's longing to be more...more present, more filled, more loving and lovely...just more.
As she was relating about how she applied her new understanding of grace and gratitude to a tense situation involving her two sons, I started to feel that all-too-familiar feeling of defeat in my own method of parenting. I too want to be more....and maybe I actually want to be less. Less gruff, less likely to lose my temper, less busy and distracted, less....me.
As I marveled at her restraint and the way she handled the situation, I felt hopeless about my own condition. After all, I'm not a celebrated best-selling author. Sure...I home school my girls like Voskamp -- but not in the "classical method" she embraces. I'm not soft-spoken enough. Or patient enough. Or...enough.
You know how it goes.
But as I started to go down that path -- and by this time, I had finished my reading and had moved on to getting the kids ready to go out for some errands -- God literally stopped me in my tracks.
It happened as I was helping my three-year-old get dressed to leave. (I don't know about you, but clothing inside our house (or lack thereof) is not usually for public consumption. Add in a newly-potty trained little one and pants are usually MIA.)
As we got ready to go, Camden ran over with his jeans (previously discarded earlier in the day) and said, "Help me, Momma!" And, as I bent down to help Camden put them on, he did what all young children do -- he reached his little hands out and braced himself on my shoulders so he could step into them.
And right then...I got it.
I felt God whispering to me...."that's what I want to do for you, Heather."
And I cried.
You see...as a mom...I don't expect my toddler to be able to fully dress himself. We're working on it. But for now, I still pick out his clothing. I help him wriggle into it. He trusts me to dress him appropriately for what we are walking out into.
I felt like God was telling me that all my longings to be "better," to be "different, to be "more," and my frustrations of not knowing how to make it happen were not something I needed to struggle with any longer.
All he wanted was for me to ask Him for help, come to Him, brace my hands on His shoulders and step into those "garments of grace."
Can you feel the blissful freedom in that?
We no longer have to strive to find or put together the "perfect outfit" that matches our soul and picks up the flecks of gold in our spirit. We don't even have to struggle with how to put it on and make it fit.
God wants to help clothe us with His righteousness.
I got it....
All that sorrow and pressure I had felt over so desperately "wanting to be better" but not having the faintest idea how to do it just melted away as a wave of His grace flooded my heart.
And while I know that someday my spirit and character will be mature enough to put those garments of grace on for myself, I am rejoicing in the fact that until that day comes, I have a Father that delights in showing me how.