I’m reading One Thousand Gifts by: Ann Voskamp right now. I’m only a few chapters in, but love the way this woman loves words. Here are just a few…
Could a name be any shorter? Three letters without even the flourish of an e. Ann, a trio of curves and lines. It means “full of grace.” I haven’t been.
Dad says nothing more. That shake of the head says it all, expresses our closed hands, our bruised shaking fists. No. No benevolent Being, no grace, no meaning to it all. My dad, a good farmer who loved his daughter the way only eyes can rightly express, he rarely said all that; only sometimes, when he’d close his eyes and ask me to stroke away the day between the fingers. But these aren’t things you need to say anyways. Like all beliefs, you simply live them.
The fruit’s poison has infected the whole of humanity. Me. I say no to what He’s given. I thirst for some roborant, some elixir to relieve the anguish of what I’ve believed: God isn’t good. God doesn’t love me. If I’m ruthlessly honest, I may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really, I have lived the no. I have. Infected by that Eden mouthful, the retina of my soul develops macular holes of blackness. From my own beginning, my sister’s death tears a hole in the canvas of the world. Losses do that. One life-loss can infect the whole of a life.”
…And I moan that God has ripped away what I wanted. No, what I needed. Though I can hardly whisper it, I live as though He stole what I consider righty mine: happiest children, marriage of unending bliss, long content, death-defying days. I look in the mirror, and if I’m fearlessly blunt–what I have, who I am, where I am, how I am, what I’ve got–this simply isn’t enough. That forked tongue darts and daily I live the doubt.
If it were up to me…” The words pound desperate and hard, “I’d write this story differently.” I regret the words as soon as they leave me. They seem to un-Christian, so unaccepting–so No God! I wish I could take them back, comb out their tangled madness, dress them in their calm Sunday best. But there they are, released and naked, raw and real, stripped of any theological cliche, my exposed, serrated howl to the throne room.
When we find ourselves groping along, famished for more, we can choose. When we are despairing, we can choose to live as Israelites gathering manna. For forty long years, God’s people daily eat manna–a substance whose name literally means “What is it?” Hungry, they choose to gather up that which is baffling. They fill on what has no meaning. More than 14,600 days they take their daily nourishment from that which they don’t comprehend. They find soul-filling in the inexplicable. They eat the mystery. They eat the mystery. And the mystery, that which made no sense, is like wafers of honey on the lips.
How do I give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God-communion. To fully live–to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal. It is possible, wildly. I now see and testify. So this story–my story. A dare to an emptier, fuller life.