My parents had to drag me out of my room and away from my book to the dinner table more often than not. My best friend and I in eighth grade would hit Walgreens on the way home from school for a soda and some candy and then spend the next three hours holed in her room – reading, sipping root beers and passing Twizzlers. I have spent my fair share of late nights groggily reading because the story was too good to put down. Many a conversation begins with “I was reading the other day…” or “Have you read…?”
Some books are classics, some are useful, some are fun, some are just plain awesome. And some are life changers. I read one this spring and am currently in the process of re-reading it and discussing it with friends: 1,000 Gifts by Ann VosKamp.
This is the story of one woman, and yet it is the story of us all: trauma and pain have touched us, marred and scarred us, woven their fingers of pain sometimes so indescribably deeply into our selves and psyches…. How do we reckon with a God who allows this? How do I reckon with my pain honestly and honestly come to know a God who is good?
Chronicling her own journey, Ann invites us to participate in life fully, right where we are. With beautiful and terrifying clarity, she recalls significant moments in her life, and follows the impact of those seemingly random events. Each chapter both unwinds those threads and then reshapes them in light of a deeper understanding of how God might be at work.
The book is powerful for two major reasons. It deals with issues at the core of our humanity: how do we experience pain? How do we experience God and his goodness? How do we understand ourselves in light of those two questions (and the answers we discover?) Second, this book is beautiful. It caresses, whispers to you, shouts at you, pokes and prods; it tingles, delights, makes you weep and ache. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel alive and human.
I am a re-reader (it surprises me when I meet people who aren’t). It’s not surprising then that this is my third time reading through it. I am a little surprised because this is my second time through the book as part of a discussion group (one in the spring, and now a different one this summer). Funny thing is, it’s not overkill. It’s the chance to delve deeper and explore more. It’s that kind of book.
You should also know that Ann VosKamp has a blog, which is equally awesome.