An Unexpected Favorite

Photo from A Holy Experience
Can I confess something?

I have a bit of an aversion towards much of what is labeled "Christian Women's Literature" in book stores. I understand that this makes me sound like a snob. But most of the titles I see here in my context target just the emotions, as if being a godly woman is all about emotional management. The devotionals offer piecemeal growth and do not encourage deep study of the Word. While I'm all for the cultivation of healthy emotions, I lament the lack of meat in the Women's Section of my local Christian book store.

When I first heard of One Thousand Gifts a couple of years ago, I had no idea who Ann Voskamp was and what the book was all about. The book's subtitle is "a dare to live fully right where you are" and to be honest, I thought the content would be cheesy. Still, I placed the book in my imaginary to-look-into pile. I had become so cynical and disillusioned by some Christian female writers and teachers that I thought, "Ah, here's another popular book that does not make much of Jesus or the gospel, and it's all about you, you, you."

Boy, was I wrong. This is what happens when I judge a book even before finding out what it's all about.

I finally decided to pick up One Thousand Gifts when I had some spare time a few weeks ago. Since going into grad school, I haven't had much time to read for leisure. For some reason, when I cleared my schedule to allow for some fun reading, I chose One Thousand Gifts.

The result? Ann's words impacted me more than I expected it to.

She wrestled with much of what I'm wrestling with at the time I read her book. It was filled not only with vignettes of her life experiences but also of Scripture. She asked hard questions, confessed from the depths of her heart, and encouraged with such colorful poetic prose. I had a knot in my heart that loosened up because I read her words at the perfect moment. I could have sworn that God used that book to teach me a lesson or two. There is so much depth and beauty in Ann's words that it immediately became one of my favorite books after I finished reading.

I started making my own gratitude list or rather, I finally had more consistency now than in my previous attempts to make one. One Thousand Gifts is in that list. Gratitude, the eucharisteo way of life, takes discipline. But through Scripture and life experiences, Ann has demonstrated to me that it is possible and it is worth it.

 There are also many books out there that claim to be biblical but are in fact self-help/pop psychology guides in disguise; One Thousand Gifts is not one of them. It is not an academic book, which was a really good thing when I read it. Being in seminary, some days I just want to pause reading textbooks and dive into something that is not scholarly but still meaty. Ann's book is not a book of propositions but her theology is alive and kicking. It made me uncomfortable but it also comforted me at the same time. Reading the book just left me so...grateful.

I was losing a battle for joy, gratitude and humility in my life. One Thousand Gifts reminded me it's not too late.

“As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.” 

― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Question: Have you had any unexpected moments with books? How did that author impact you?

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