Fear or Thanks

Do you ever wonder why some people who have the hardest lives seem to be the happiest? They can struggle with devastating loss or poverty or chronic illness. I first learned about ‘eucharisteo‘ in a book called, “One Thousand Gifts”, by Ann Voskamp several years ago. Eucharisteo is the thanksgiving and grace given and received with joy for all things in life, big and small. It’s a lovely sentiment.

So, I wanted to celebrate this inspiring nugget by having it tattooed on the back of my shoulder.  My daughters and I decided to make a girls’ day of it; my elder was planning to get her first tattoo, and my youngest was getting her navel pierced.  Much discussion had gone into these ideas.  Days and weeks of looking at designs and attempting a few sketches to find the perfect thing.  A celtic knot was chosen for the former and she knew exactly where she wanted it.  Behind her ear, on her neck.  I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little anxious about her getting something so permanent on her neck, of all places.  What if it affected her getting a job? What would people at church think about us? What will the grandparents say? She wanted to celebrate her heritage and her success in overcoming a TBI.  How can I argue that? After all, I am her biggest cheerleader. I met with the artist and saw the stencil.  Beautiful.  O.K.  She’s all set.

I wanted to sit with each of them while they were getting their things done, but alas, I was having my own done at the same time.  At least, they would keep each other company.  I worried that we should have staggered our appointments so I could be there with them. Meanwhile, my artist had completed my stencil and I checked it over.  Looked great!  I was finished in an hour.  I was delighted to see this beautiful script on the back of my shoulder.  The girls got what they wanted and we were all happy with the results.

It took me three days to realize I misspelled it.  My initial feeling wasn’t the panic and horror one would expect upon finding this out.  I was irritated at myself for being so careless.  Hadn’t I just been coaching the girls to be certain and careful in their choices? I have a compulsive habit of correcting text in print and other people’s grammar (even if silently in my head.) Yet, I missed the ‘a’ when I proofed the stencil.  Crap. I wondered if it could be inserted somehow.  Or covered up. I wondered how much laser removal cost.

“It’s impossible to give thanks and simultaneously feel fear.” – A. Voskamp

I couldn’t look at it for the rest of the week. Then it struck me. It didn’t change a thing for me in meaning.  Eucharisteo still reminds me to find gratitude and joy in God’s daily gifts.  Perhaps, He was humbling me to be less critical of myself and especially others. We can all stand to show more grace toward one another. And, it reminded me of a painting my youngest did in school that said, “beauty is in the imperfections.” Such wisdom at her age. My family is safe and happy. We have our friends, our pets, and our sweet, little home. The important stuff is taken care of. The ability to recognise the little gifts from God each day even during the darkest days is not easy. It is very easy to take for granted these things when life is going great. It’s even easier to occupy our thoughts with fear and worry about all sorts of things especially when we release our grown children to the world.  Ann Voskamp said, “It’s impossible to give thanks and simultaneously feel fear.”

No, I won’t be lasering it off or covering it up.  I will celebrate my imperfections and continue to learn from my dumb mistakes. I am forever grateful that my children have more courage and curiosity for the world around them then I did when I was their age. I hope they will find a place for eucharisteo in their grown up lives. And meanwhile, I will still see the lovely script on my shoulder and smile.

7 Replies to “Fear or Thanks”

  1. Hannah Choate says:

    This is lovely!! Can’t wait to read more! 🙂

    1. Thank you!

  2. Morgan Choate says:

    Awe love this!

    1. Thanks darlin’! 😊

  3. Well written. I’m so proud of you! Also I agree with everything you wrote! love you

  4. Go Shelley! If I’ve ever thought of anyone as a second mom it was you, love you and wish you the best of luck and to many more blog posts!

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah!!

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