The tangle sometimes is all too obvious- twisted and turned, jumbled, disconnected. The solution, the straightened cord- rarely ever shows itself clearly. And immensely frustrated, we began to just pull at the knots, rough shod. But when we slow down, when we really see where the cord twists and turns, only then can we gently pull the cord through, in and out and up and down, until the mass of tangles straightens one by one. It requires patience and careful focus, two things that often seem in short supply when angry and frustrated.

How often has my life resembled that tangle of knots? A conflict with a friend, a misunderstanding, a disobedient child…all seem a mess, and not easy to fix, and so rarely do I actually stop and pay attention to the problem at hand, pulling vainly, and making larger knots than before.

Slow down.
See.

If there is one lesson I have learned this last year, it is quite simply, slow. See. Thank. One can slow down and see the problems and tangles, but it is only in the looking outward, in the gratitude, that the tangle becomes apparent, or dissolves all together. Ann has said so many times and in so many eloquent ways that one of the only ways to get a Kingdom prescription in our earthly glasses is to put on gratitude. I believe that her Spirit led advice is right on the mark, praiseworthy and true.

I confess, a year ago, that I felt Ann a bit of a crack pot. A beautiful, inspiring, lovable crackpot, mind you, but her gratitude community? Come on. I live in the real world. The real, dirty, messy, tangled world. Saying thank you for the little things seemed a bit whimsical, a bit too Polly-anna-ish for my cynical, bitter tastes. Could a gratitude journal, a counting of blessings, could it really make such a difference?

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. The stretch of the last twelve months has pulled and pushed myself and my family into some very uncomfortable territory, very troublesome territory. It would be perfectly normal for me to be upset and discouraged at what has happened. And some days, I confess, I do have those moments. Shadows do fall, the darkness creeps about.

But I cannot look at this last year, or even these last two weeks of sickness and trouble, and not see our gracious God. My agnostic friend accused me a month or so ago that it drives him nuts that I "see God everywhere" and I couldn't have thought of a better compliment. I've joined the crack pot brigade and I couldn't be happier. It saddens me that God had to strip everything away before I would
listen, before I would hear, but at the same time, how glad I am that
He loved me enough to do so!  I would rather walk in brokenness and
devastation, instability and need, and know the Father's voice, than
all the riches in the world.  I never thought I would say that, and
mean it, but I do. I do!

Moses says:
Teach us to number our days aright,
       that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
{Psalm 90:12}

and David testifies:
Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
       praise his holy name.

  For his anger lasts only a moment,
       but his favor lasts a lifetime;
       weeping may remain for a night,
       but rejoicing comes in the morning.
{Psalm 30: 4-5}

In Hebrews it says:

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. {13: 15}

In 1 Peter it says:

But you are a
chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to
God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of
darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
{2:9-10}

The blessings, the counting of days, are more than meets the eye. Certainly, it is fulfilling the Lord's own commands that we praise Him. But there are other benefits. Kingdom sight, for one. Perspective. An untangling of knots. The crooked made straight.

Oh yes, the dirty, messy world is still there, squalor and heartache waiting. But gratitude allows us to begin to see 'around the edges', to see the bigger picture, to see the living, breathing, active movement of God within and through even the messiest and darkest of days.

So we slow. We count. And we praise.

Join me, and the rest of Ann's gratitude community. I promise you won't regret it.

——

Related:

Naming the Face We Face , Ann Voskamp, Holy Experience

Taking Back the Day, Elise Hooper, A Path Made Straight

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