Keeping my eyes open to glimpses of God

Friday, March 11, 2011

Negative Talk

Isn't it amazing how negatively we can think without even meaning to? It's so natural that it's hardly noticeable. I'm usually a pretty positive and confident person, but there are times that I simply have a stream of negative thoughts flowing through my mind.

I've been noticing lately this is especially true while I'm working out and testing my physical limits. Last summer I ran quite a bit and completed two 5k races. I'm a slow runner . . . more of a jogger, but I was proud of my accomplishments. In just a little more than two weeks the next 5k race I am planning to run is taking place. The problem is that it's been cold in Chicagoland, and I'm a fair weather runner. So, I've been trying to get out this week and take advantage of the 40 degree weather. Boy am I out of shape! I set out to run a mile straight at a quick pace the other morning . . . I didn't even make it half way before taking a walking break. I did finish that mile - running over half of it at least. But that's not what I had set out to do, so instead of celebrating what my body had been able to do, I was frustrated that I had failed at my goal. The negative thoughts starting prancing through my brain - Maybe I'm just not a runner; I'll never be in shape in time for the race; I'm not strong enough for this.

All these thoughts are, of course, with no regard to the fact that I haven't run since October - since before I had gallbladder surgery.

Those thoughts came out again tonight at yoga. It was by far the most difficult class I've been to. We were working on arms and shoulders, doing tons of shoulder openers (stretches), planks, downward facing dog, handstand, and shoulderstand. I was exhausted and sore after the warm up alone. And then the thoughts came: I can't hold this plank any longer! Can't he see that I'm shaking? There's no way I can do this anymore!

But guess what? I could hold that plank. I shook uncontrollably, but I stayed put. And I did finish the practice - and the teacher even used me as an example for shoulderstand!

God has created and given me a body able to do more than I can even imagine. Instead of letting those negative thoughts flow through me next time, I'm going to concentrate on what my body is able to do and start there. And, I'm going to believe that I can do more than I think I can.

Our bodies are an amazing creation!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Breathe In, Breathe Out

"Every truth without exception - and whoever may utter it - is from the Holy Spirit."
- Thomas Aquinas, a 13th Century Christian

I am continually amazed with the places I learn profound truth from God. There have been sermons that have caught my breath and pierced my heart. But, more usual is God teaching me a lesson using the mundaneness of life, the objects and people I daily come into contact with, and small whispers during activity. And the great thing is that God is able to do that. He is bigger than our structures and relatinships and "stuff," and we can encounter his truth in so many places. If we believe God is the source of all truth, then whenever and wherever we encounter it, we can trust it's from God.

Recently I was at my weekly yoga class and the teacher shared this wisdom: we must regularly meet with the Divine and rest there, breathing in the good things like love, acceptance, compassion, patience etc., and breathe out what we've gained from the world: hate, bigotry, anger, disappointment, etc. Then, when we've done this, we'll be able to return to our communities - our family, friends, coworkers, the people we do life with, and we can breathe in the hate, anger, depression, bigotry, etc. and breathe out onto them the love, acceptance, patience, and more that we've gained by plugging into the Divine. And then, the process starts over again.

As I heard this wisdom, I immediately applied it to God - meeting daily with him to breathe in his goodness so that I can turn around and breathe that goodness out on the world. I thought it was such beautiful imagery and it parallels what we're told to do in the Bible: Love God, connect with him regularly, grow a deep relationship with him, and let the overflow of that relationship (love, patience, compassion, acceptance . . .) spill over into our other relationships. Likewise, the imagery of the vine comes up. Only when we're connected to the Vine daily, soaking up "nutrients," will we be able to live the lives God calls us to live.

So, today I'm focusing on breathing in God's love and breathing that out on the world wherever I go.