I’ve been living in fear.

Fear that my body is falling apart and we’ll never find out why.

Fear that I’ve failed my children.

Fear that my children will never be able to function in society because I’ve somehow managed to mess them up.

Fear that neither my partner nor I are getting what we need from our marriage.

Fear that I’ve done nothing in my life.

Fear that no matter how hard I try – and wish – nothing will ever change.

Fear that this is all there is, and then, one day, I’ll just die and that will be all.

Fear that there is no purpose at all to this thing called life.

Fear is exhausting. It is overwhelming. It is consuming. It is eating me from the inside out and leave big voids, empty spaces, nothingness.

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A dear friend of mine sensed this – she knew.

She sent me a gift.

A gift – for me. For healing.

One that I’ve longed for, that I’ve felt drawn towards, that I’ve wanted to hold on my lap, but could never justify buying for myself.

A book. A simple book. But a profound, and life changing book. I haven’t read it all. I’m going slow, and taking it in, but I can feel the promise of something more.

I’ve done it all before. Oprah’s gratitude lists. Friday Fave Fives. Journaling the highights of my day. I’ve even tried to blog my 1000 gifts, a la Ann Voskamp But it has fallen flat. No real meaning behind it. I was doing it just because. Sure, I was thankful, but it didn’t go deeper than that. However, Monday afternoon, I found the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp sitting on my lap.

There it was – real, emotional, honest.

That word, grace. The state that alludes me. I’ve spend time lately talking with women about grace. Women that are going through experiences that I can only imagine. They are doing so with grace and strength and purpose. Yet, I struggle and scream and cry for them – and for myself. How do I find grace?

I do not have the eloquent language to describe what I’ve been taught by this book so far but needless to say, I was going about my lists all wrong. Being thankful goes so much deeper than writing a few things from time to time when your feeling good about things. It’s about being thankful in spite of the challenges – because of the challenges. It’s about living thankfulness. Not being thankful, and then forgetting about it and going on about the day feeling resentful and tired and angry and defeated. In the hardest moments, we are given moments of light – blessings – if we are open to seeing them.

I will be open to seeing them. I will keep learning. I will be okay to be, right where I am, happy and complete. It won’t happen today, but with practice and prayer and time, I’ll be able to live more and more of the life that I want to live, being thankful for the moments I am given and accepting whatever comes my way. This is how I, too, will find grace.