I dare you...

I have a good friend who also happens to be a licensed counselor.  She is blessed with the gift of truly speaking her mind and I love that about her, but it can be a bit scary sometimes.  I'll never forget the first time she came into my office.  I personally painted most of the artwork in the room because I wanted to make it my own creative outlet.  I do spend countless hours in there creating.

Being quite the artist herself she took the time to admire my work.  Her first comment was, "Oh, this piece is quite dark."

Can you imagine what's going through my mind?  "What does she mean by that?  Is that a good thing?  Does this painting reveal some negative secret about my personality that I don't even know?"

I didn't think the piece was dark.  I actually saw it--felt it--as warm.  In reflection, I might agree with her.  Instantly our mind thinks of dark as ugly.  But is it really?  Or is it in the dark times, in those times of intense trial, when the most beautiful artwork, melodies, lyrics, rhymes, sentences flow from the deepest cisterns of our hearts.

This is a hard lesson to learn.  To believe that their is beauty is pain and to believe that the pain will make us better.

I think that revelation will only happen when we choose to be thankful in the hard times.  I believe that revelation only dawns on our tired, cold hearts when we become thankful in the pain.

Last Saturday I was confronted with this message again during a women's Bible study.  Honestly, it caught me by surprise.  I came to "work" for my mom, but found myself enveloped in the teaching.

We watched this video from Ann Voskamp.  As I watched the video I immediately recognized Ann from a blog I read called A Holy Experience.  As I was watching this I was absolutely confronted with the beauty...with the joy...that comes from pain.  The book is called One Thousand Gifts.  And I've decided to take the challenge.  A challenge that should bring great change and definitely reflection.  A challenge to find 1,000 things, people, life experiences that I'm thankful for.

  • I'm thankful for long beautiful walks where the sun lights the path.
  • I'm thankful for colors that completely express all emotions.
  • I'm thankful for smells as they overwhelm me taking me back to moments, good and bad, that have shaped my life.
  • I'm thankful for coffee.  It makes me happy.
  • I'm thankful for my mind because even though it's complicated and difficult and misunderstood most of the time, it's still mine.
  • I'm thankful for my parents--for their silent and not so silent love, support and strength.
  • I'm thankful for bad times because in all their difficulties they help me remember the good.
  • I'm thankful to be in a community where there is love and respect.  Perfect?  No, but still a home.
  • I'm thankful for the majesty of the ocean.  It's overwhelming and simple as the tide sweeps in and pulls out. Its gravity pulls me to its shore almost begging me to find life in the waves.
  • I'm thankful for flying cardinal birds because they remind me of my great-grandfather and the legacy I have to live to.
  • I'm thankful that God cares and loves me so deeply that He has written me on the palm of His hand as a constant reminder.

So that was my first day.  I'm sure there will be many more.  And really what a great time to stop and be thankful and to give to praise to whom it is do:  Jesus, the giver of life and the sustainer of my faith.

I've already asked you, Friend, what you are thankful for.  (here)  Many answered, but I think the challenge here is more than just a simple "I'm thankful for..."

The challenge is live a life of gratitude, thankful for the hardships, and choosing joy in pain.  It's definitely difficult, but so much more rewarding than staying in the meer of this nasty, hard life.  And believe me, life will be hard.  It takes work.

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