I recently read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It is basically about finding joy by recognizing God’s small gifts/romances to us. The author challenged herself to make a list of 1000 gifts from God, and documented that journey and the effect it had on her life and way of viewing the world.
I have also started making a list. I recognize that joy is not a word I would use to characterize my life or my attitude, and even though I may not be able to do much about my circumstances, I can change my outlook. My list is currently at 47, and includes items like Japanese cherry tea, old jazz floating through open apartment windows, dyed eggs, and the smell of summer mornings.
Soon after reading One Thousand Gifts I went to a NextGen Workers Retreat (for anyone who volunteers with the ‘next generation’, i.e. children, youth, or college age ministries) with my church. The weekend included seminars, networking, a dodgeball tournament, and, especially, rest. At our last breakfast there, a microphone was shoved in my face and I was told that I was the volunteer for prayer. I’m not a morning person, and making words happen first thing in the morning is not something I do well, but I fumbled through and then the introvert in me withdrew and focused on the food.
After breakfast as I walked to the worship gathering, one of the youth pastors jokingly shouted to me that it was an inspiring prayer and that he was very moved. I laughed and explained that I am an extreme introvert (a trait I like about myself), and that having a conversation with my table at breakfast was enough of a stretch, much less praying in front of 100+ people. He said that he could tell.
Following the worship gathering, we were invited to be anointed and prayed over by the leaders. I went forward, and ended up being anointed by the same guy I talked to before the gathering. He prayed that I would have boldness. I had a feeling he would do that.
For the rest of the day I had an internal battle. I acknowledged that boldness does not equal extraversion, and that this pastor was not necessarily trying to change who I am. But it felt that way, and sometimes it feels like the expectation is that we have to be extraverted to follow Jesus. Basically what it came down to is that I didn’t want the blessing, which made me feel very ungrateful. I don’t get to choose the gifts that God gives, but I can choose to accept them and I can choose to be thankful. Sometimes what we are given is not what we want or what we think we need, but God gives exactly what we need. Boldness does not equal extraversion, and God made us who we are for a reason, but if he decides to give a gift, who are we to say that he’s wrong?