A Heart Thing
Cut a piece of paper into 24 pieces.
Fill them up with things you enjoy. One for every piece.
Cuddling. Playing the piano. Candles. A really good cup of coffee. Teaching. Making bread. A good story. Laughter. An organized purse. My husband whistling. A long hug from my nephew. Creativity. Being applauded. Feeling needed.
Keep going until each paper is filled up. Be real.
Now, lay them all out in front of you. There's an instant Thank You prayer list. After you give thanks, you have another thing to do.
One by one take something away... giving it up. Which would I keep for the last 12. The last 5. If I could only have one? And what would it be like to have none of these?
I first did this exercise during a Hospice training... helping me to gain compassion for people whose earthly pleasures have dwindled down to very little... and then to none.
It's one of those things that haunt me. A test to see how my heart is doing. A clean house. A day in sweat-pants. Cookie dough. An engagement ring. A report that the cancer is in remission. All of these are good things - but none of these things can save us or even bring us peace for more than a fleeting moment. No delight of this world will last.
When we do take refuge in the gifts themselves, we stand in a dangerous place. Our affections for what we have overwhelm us. The fall from the precipice is life threatening. If books or movies or music are the place where I can go to escape the stress of life - then what happens when they are over?
What happens when I am given a choice between the entertainment and caring for another human? What happens when romance is always on my mind - but it doesn't come through for me? What happens when I don't get the recognition I deserve? What happens when God doesn't give me what I want?
It is then - with such grace and kindness - that God shows me that He is what I want.