I love Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience, which, if you know me, is actually a bit out of character. Her blog is quiet yet full, simple yet incredibly complex and of such a depth that most posts require reflection and more than one reading. I'm a rushing, scanning kind of reader so I think that often, I miss the true depth. It's on the rare days that I can actually sit and read as opposed to a quick scan that I really am able to receive her message.
One of the major themes of the blog is gratitude and, as you know, there are weekly link-ups to her gratitude community. I have found that taking time to catalogue those little things that make each day so rich really changes my thinking and helps me to keep focus and to find contentment. When I saw that Ann has written a book and, even better, that the Dayspring blog is featuring a book club called Bloom and this book is the first study, I had to join in.
Truly, the timing couldn't be better. For the last several weeks, I have found myself battling a kind of creeping discontent that at times begins to crawl into depression. When I am busy, it isn't so bad and when I can focus on a project and not think (e.g., my knitting), I am not so bad but there are moments that I find myself in tears. I love my husband, I love my children and I feel so fortunate in so many ways but still, there is this gap, this void, this emptiness. I fill it with striving, with trying to prove myself, with projects and goals and busyness and yet, it's not enough. It's not a craving for material things - I don't feel a huge need for a bigger house or a fancy car or the right labels on my clothing. It's much more a sense of a need to prove my worth, to show that I have some value. The trappings I crave are the accomplishments that prove that I am a good mother (e.g., the "perfect" treats for the holiday, the child who is accomplished thanks to home teaching, the child who is confident in all situations thanks for a security in love and discipline), a good wife (with a husband who obviously benefits from my care), a good homemaker (a skilled cook with a home that is always immaculate and ready to receive visitors with warm hospitality), an excellent teacher whose students all leave at the end of the year highly successful and most of all, a Christian woman whose life reflects her faith and enriches others (through my church work, my blog, my obvious joy that makes others want to have what I have). The hard part is that I feel like I am not able to do any of those things well enough and I spend a great deal of time comparing myself to those who I think are what I feel I need to be. I am really exhausted and sick of the busyness. I know that I am missing out.
I have read the first two chapters of the book and so far, I am entranced. It's a slow read (not that it is heavy but I have to slow down to "get" it), which is refreshing in a way. I have to carve out time to reflect and to savour. I can't remember the last time I did that. I have this sense that Ann understands me. I read the following excerpt today and I felt my heart leap, yelling, "That's me! Someone understands!"
I wake to self-hatred. To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets. I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruputured hopes. Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough? (page 27)
I can't wait to continue on the journey of this book. While I know that reading one book can't solve all my problems or assuage my guilt at claiming to be a Christian while also feeling such discontent, it's so nice to feel like someone knows, someone understands and that someone is someone so wise. It's nice to not be alone. It would be lovely not to feel so tired.