I’ve fallen in love with the library again. I’m sure this is, in part, due the beautiful, well-stocked library in my town. It’s also due to a lifetime’s worth of materials available for free! My last visit was particularly bountiful with good stuff. As I was walking through the memoirs section (good ol’ 921), I noticed a book called Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? Of course I did a double take and snatched it off the shelf. It wasn’t on my list, but it sounded interesting and the price was right, so it came home with me.
It was a fun and funny book. I could relate to her marriage with a wonderful, but very different from me, man. Mostly, I was encouraged by her faith journey. I didn’t agree with all the conclusions she came to, but the stories of her journey were a shot of much-needed hope. One chapter mentioned buying a gratitude ring that she would touch and thank God for various things. Making gratitude lists is nothing new, Oprah encouraged it and Ann Voscamp’s One Thousand Gifts has made its way to almost every Christian’s library (including mine), but something about having a piece of jewelry that would remind me to give thanks throughout my day seemed helpful for my faith challenges of late.
I vaguely remembered having a silver band inscribed with the word “faith” in my jewelry box. When I went to investigate, sure enough, there it was, but not as I remembered. The ring was clearly worn. The plating on the underside had rubbed away to reveal the reddish mystery metal underneath. The black paint that once boldly outlined the word “FAITH” had all but chipped off, leaving only embossed letters. At first I thought, “This will never do,” but a far more sensible voice chimed in. “It’s free and immediate. Start by being thankful for that.” Seeing as how I didn’t have any other options with those two qualities, I decided to wear it anyways. Besides, it seems altogether appropriate for my faith ring to look like it’s taken a beating; indeed, my own faith has of late.
Now, I’m wearing a ring that says “faith”, intended to remind me to thank God instead of worrying (just like the verse I quoted in my last post says). My weathered ring reminds me real gratitude isn’t contingent on things looking perfect or even as I’d imagined. Gratitude comes from the unshakable belief that there is something to be thankful for right now, having the discipline to look for it, and thanking God for it.
Here is my list for today:
- I’m thankful for soul-stirring songs I loudly sing along with in the cool night air on my ride home.
- I’m thankful for hot, poignant tears that slide out of my eyes over long dormant hurts [there’s hope for healing yet]
- I’m thankful for coaching exercises that help me along my weight loss journey.
- I’m thankful that an adorable boy loves to hold mama’s arm as he drifts off to sleep and a husband who’s within one standard deviation from normal (don’t ask).
- Mostly, I’m thankful that faith doesn’t have to be perfect and beautiful to be real. It can be flawed, scarred, faded, and still lead me back to Jesus.