Let me ask you a question. On a scale of 1-10, if “1” = “down in the dumps” depression and “10” = overflowing exploding joy, where is your Joy Meter at right now? Not last month or last year, but today?
What’s your number?
I asked this question last Sunday during my sermon and guess how many people raised their hand saying they were at a level “10” joy right now?
Why is that?
For those of us who are Christians, why isn’t our Joy Meter a “10” all the time? After all, as a follower of Jesus I am in relationship with the Creator of the universe. The one who named the stars knows my name. I have be forgiven of all my sins. And I will spend eternity in a heavenly paradise when I die.
Based on these truths, my Joy Meter should be a constant “10.” Regardless of my circumstances. Regardless of my personality type.
But it’s not. And I bet yours isn’t either.
It’s so easy to live a joy-empty life instead of a joy-full life, isn’t it?
So what do we do about that?
The answer can’t be to command you to “be more joyful.” We can’t make ourselves more joyful. So what can we do?
How can we grow in our joy so that over time our number on the 1 to 10 scale grows? So it goes from a 3 to a 4 to a 7 to a 9 and finally to a 10? Here is where I landed. It’s wisdom and insight from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
In her book Ann shared how she was struggling with ingratitude and a lack of joy in her life. And the solution to these problems was found in a list…
One of the activities we do as human beings is we make lists. Grocery lists. Christmas shopping lists. To-Do lists. Ann came across the idea of making another list, which is probably the most important list anyone could ever write. Here’s a quote:
It was a dare, like a love dare of sorts… Could I write a list of a thousand things I love? To name one thousand blessings — one thousand gifts? I grab some paper and title it: Gift List. I begin the list. Not of gifts I want but of gifts I already have. (p.45)
Ann felt like God prompted her to start a list. To write down one thousand things the she should be thankful for. One thousand gifts that God gave her. One thousand things she loves. So she started the list and added to it each day.
At first she said it seemed so basic. Almost trivial. Writing down things she was thankful for. It seemed too easy to actually work — that being more thankful would lead to more joy.
So here is what happened… As she wrote her Gift List, she became more thankful. More thankful of the things that would be so easy to take for granted. And as she became more thankful, she became more joyful.
Let me ask you a question….. what if you did what Ann did? Created a “Gift List.”
I usually don’t give you homework in my blogs. But I am this time. 🙂 My challenge is to start a “Gift List.” Do it for a week. Just one week. Obviously you could do it longer if you want to. But commit to doing it for one week.
And don’t feel like you need to write down one thousand gifts on your list. That’s too much pressure. Make a goal to write down just 10 things a day. Just 10 things you are thankful for. 10 ways God has blessed you. 10 things you love.
Not of gifts you want but of gifts you already have.
They can be “small things.” Don’t over-think this. And they don’t all have to be “deep” or profound either. Some will but some won’t.
By the way, I realized I need to practice what I am preaching (practice what I am blogging) 🙂 I needed to create a Gift List. Because I need to be more thankful. And I would love to have more joy in my life. Because I’m not at a “10” right now.
So I began compiling a list. And it’s nowhere near 1,000 gifts (it’s 44 so far…). As I have been doing it, I am realizing the power in it. The power in slowing down. In looking around at the things that would be easy to look past. What people call “the small stuff.” The things that should bring me joy but don’t. Because I am either too busy to think about them. Or I don’t have eyes to see them. Or I take them for granted. Or I am focusing too much on the stuff going wrong in my life instead of focusing on the stuff that is going right.
As I wrote them down and then re-read what I wrote, I am becoming more thankful. And as I am becoming more thankful, I am becoming more joyful.
So here is just a portion of my Gift List. Some of the things are “deep” and some aren’t. I wanted to share these things to give you ideas on what might go on your list, and to invite you into my life a bit. Here goes:
- Faith’s excitement about her 1st day of school
- clean drinking water
- having Melissa Weckler spend Sunday afternoon with us in our backyard
- being healthy enough to work out
- reading a biography that has really captivated me (I’ll probably be blogging about this book in the near future!)
- homemade taco salads for dinner
- watching Evelyn and Elizabeth play “mommy and baby”
- the UPS truck stopping in front of my house to deliver new books from amazon.com
- morning conversations with Kellie before the kids wake up
- deep breaths
- pastoring The Eastside Vineyard Church
- our house
- Praying at night as a family
- the “smell” of fall in the air
- having grass in our backyard
***Please join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. My sermon is titled “This is My Blood…” and will focus on The Last Supper in Matthew 26:17-30. Sunday. September 8th. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***