Do you know the sound of silence?
I’ve once again become familiar with it this week. It’s been a while for me and part of me is glad to have it back. People are busy and I’m that college student who decided to give myself a break before school starts back for the final go-round.
I crave silence when I don’t have it, being the introvert that I am. But after I have it for an hour at most I start to hate it, being the introvert that I am.
I think and think and think until things that are so small become almost life-changing and I start to reevaluate everything. I’m a deep thinker and a close tie for a deep feeler and those two hand-in-hand can sometimes be toxic when they’re the only voices around.
It’s funny because I’ve found that the same practice that helps me when I’m too busy to remember to be still helps me when I have too much time to be still.
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It’s been quite some time since I’ve read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, but her words of wisdom and her thoughts about Heaven on Earth still impact me every day.
I was suggested to read it by some friends in my Bible study a couple years ago, but started practicing counting gifts even before then alongside those sweet friends. We counted all throughout the week and shared what we wrote down every meeting.
Cue the question: “What exactly do you mean by ‘gifts’?” Well I’m so glad you asked. Gifts can be anything that come in contact with your five senses that you’re thankful for. They can be things you see, situations that happen, people that impact you, cereal you eat, books you read, air you breathe, coffee you drink (or inhale, whichever), teachers that teach you, bosses that lead you, small children that hug you, air conditioners that cool you, and anything and everything else that you could consider a gift from God.
It’s all about looking around and practicing the attitude of thankfulness.
Ann says it this way:
“I redeem time from neglect and apathy and inattentiveness when I swell with thanks and weigh the moment down and it’s giving thanks to God for this moment that multiplies the moments, time made enough.”
– Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, Chapter Four
Since I started counting years ago, I’ve reached 3,250. And yeah, you better bet I’ve repeated a few here and there (mostly the aroma of coffee in the morning and funnies from my friend Elizabeth), but all in all I’ve been amazed by how many things I’ve counted that I can thank God for. Here are some just from the past year:
1903 feeling known
1952 the power of prayer
1967 a beautiful sky reminding me of the depth of Christ’s love
2045 seeing Him make a way
2088 poetry reading and cappuccinos in the caf
2102 feeling His love in the quiet of morning
2470 exposing the lies — I am chosen!
2487 calling a church home that I never want to leave
2515 a close parking spot
3054 A ‘B’ IN FINANCE. BOOYAH.
3180 sitting by my mom at church
3181 the opportunity to be real and honest with people without fear
3182 Katie’s voice on the phone
3196 being missed
3199 Sophie’s little voice and pitter patter of feet
3203 Mango tea
3210 N’sync radio
3215 my mom loving me, even when I’m a jerk
3220 a 3-hour Skype date with Liz
3242 Jesus talks in the middle of the lake
If you find yourself not taking the time to be still and thanking God enough for what He’s given you, or if you’re seeing that (like me in this moment) you’re experiencing too much silence with not enough praise, take a minute and jot down some ways you’ve seen Him love you today. The spirit of thankfulness overcomes the ones of fear and worry and drowns out the one of selfishness as long as we practice it.
Happy counting, friends! And hey, feel free to share some in the comments if you’d like!