Lately, I have been trying to count to three each day. Three blessings, three gifts, three things to draw my attention to adoration, to gratitude.
Most days I forget. Most days time is controlling and chaotic and courts a weariness in me with the fervor of a new love, reminding me of why I wanted to try counting in the first place.
It all started with a book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. (Her blog is here, aholyexperience.com, and I’ll leave you to explore that on your own.) Because I am overwhelmed and often stifled by an issue of too-much-all-at-once, I downloaded the “Joy Dare” PDF to guide me for what I should look for each day. I’m not a huge fan of fill in the blank prayers, but this felt challenging, adventurous.
Some days say things like 3 gifts in a closet, 3 gifts flat, 3 gifts in the dark. Those are fun. Those are like treasure hunts, and lead me to places like the spinning shoe tree in my closet, the new storage bag I have for the loaves of bread I am learning to make (which is flat until I fill it), and our first campfire of the season.
Today I remembered to look at the PDF. Today, when I looked, I balked. 3 gifts about yourself.
No thank you, I thought. That doesn’t sound adventurous at all, or fun, or worth my time.
Did I just tell myself I wasn’t worth my own time?
Here is where I roll my eyes across the blogosphere.
I have been trying lately to accept compliments with a simple thank you, without laughing first. I don’t always get it right. And I have been trying to give, even if I feel the gift is not really what I imagine to be worthy.
3 gifts about me?
What I thought of when I read that was not anything I had. Instead, I thought only of things I could share or give away. Imagining my heart and soul wrapped up in a bow, what would be the thing likely to shine when someone opened the package? What could someone possibly say fulfilled a need, or answered a want?
Calling my writing a gift doesn’t feel right. It’s too much a part of me. It’d be like calling my earlobes a gift. I’m not entirely sure of it’s function in the grand scheme of things, but it would hurt like hell to have it torn from me.
Chunks of my days are spent writing, or thinking about writing, floating in the comfortable space of my own mind. Even when I walk away from the desk, I am driven to distraction by what is still playing out in my imagination. I liken it to something I do whenever I am swimming. No matter the splashing or yelling or playing around me, I will tip myself back, and float on the water’s surface, my ears just below the water, so all I hear is my own breathing, the sky above me all I can see.
I know this is how I have to spend my days, in this half-life, split between what is real and what is real only to me. But this can leave little time for giving the way I wish I could give.
In thinking it over, I realized there are two kinds of gifts. There are filling gifts, when what you have to offer fills someone else up, and there are empty cup gifts, when what you have to offer is a space for someone else’s gift to be poured out.
I am an expert in nothing. The term “life long learner” is more flattering on someone who is retired than a thirty something mom of two, who is apparently supposed to know everything right now. This used to stop me from asking questions. I didn’t want to appear foolish.
But could it be that learning is a gift? Is it possible that the student doesn’t always have to become the teacher?
Gift one was an empty cup gift: I have a fervent desire to learn from those who have a lesson to teach. (And I am finally over my own pride enough to sit and be a student.)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I do have to confess that there are times my mind wanders when someone is talking to me. This is why I usually hesitate to also count my imagination as a gift. My imagination is like a kangaroo on a trampoline. Loads of fun, to be sure, but sometimes the attention it demands is an imposition.
Still, despite my wordy wanderings here, I do not consider myself as someone who has much to say. I don’t have to open my mouth to prove that what I think is right, and I am not compelled to convince anyone of anything.
I like to hear what other people think about things. I like to know how they came to their conclusions. It’s a bit of a study in personality for me.
Gift two, another empty cup: a capacity to listen to those who need to talk.
This was becoming an exercise in making peace with my empty places.
But gift three is what led me to write this, and it is a filling gift.
Gift three: an ability to draw attention to details previously unrecognized or under appreciated.
I think the desire to fill gets to be my gift. It is what I get to enjoy– the seeking, the searching, the cradling of the detail, the turning of your eye to look at something differently. I get to take your chin in my hand, turn your head, and whisper, “Look.”
I am not presenting you with a treasure you did not already have. My hope is to shine a light on what you may have imagined was dull and ordinary, to reveal the prism reflected and refracted, show you how something in your hand can grow, bounce around and over, become a part of you.
What are three gifts about you? When was the last time you looked at yourself long enough to know just what you have to offer? Does anything surprise you?