A Lesson on Small Things from Ann Voskamp

“Do not disdain the small… Give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.”

Do you ever have those moments where you read something and the words jump off the page at you, as if they were written just for you? I’ve been getting that a lot lately. Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts is brimming with deep insights into living a full life. In it she focuses on the vitality of thankfulness, explaining how her self-challenge to record a thousand gifts transformed her from someone imprisoned by pain to a woman of joy.

I’ve been writing a series of posts called ‘Small Things‘ for some time now, in which I list little things that have made me smile. These posts are among my most popular, and yet lately, I’ve been struggling to appreciate them. I have started to find them tedious and insignificant – so when I read Ann’s words above, I had to stop and take note.

Sometimes it’s really easy to think that to enjoy the little things is somehow offensive to the people who are suffering in the world, or is petty and contemptible. But actually, when we acknowledge goodness in the world, we are reminding ourselves and others of its existence. We are making it clear to see the gifts we’ve been given, which, I believe are signs of God’s goodness, of his love for us. As Ann later writes, ‘I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks… The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.’

I remember very clearly a time when I started to notice little things around me. It was a time when I was actually pretty heart-broken, having been through the pain of a breakup, feeling most of the time a heavy grief, as if I’d lost my best friend and my own identity all in one go. But at that time, my attention started to be drawn to what I saw as little gifts from a God who loved me. A rose shaped seed. A child’s letter. A street musician. Deer in the park. A book found in an old pile in a lecture room. Though I was hurting, there was Someone looking after me. Someone with such goodness, such imagination, to let me know He was there so gently but so surely.

Saying thank you is part of accepting a gift, and Ann in her book points out that we may be missing out on many gifts simply because we are not in the habit of looking around and receiving them with thanks.

What are you thankful for this week? How does thankfulness impact you?

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