Everyday Miracles is a very personal column for readers who want to explore the deeper meaning of life.
I’ve had a very busy four weeks of traveling with two back-to-back work-related trips and am just now slipping back to that warm mindfulness mental state that allows me to pen my Everyday Miracles columns. I recently fell backwards—well not literally—but I was drawn back into old behavior patterns that rendered me off balance for a time. I humbly share with you what happened in hopes youll harvest a nugget or two.
“The residual darkness that lingered prevented me
from fully coming back to center… “
Just like on a motorcycle, when we take our focus off the skills we’ve learned to pilot our motorcycles safely, we’re liable to get off balance. In motorcycling, this means we put ourselves at risk of dropping our bike, or worse, having an accident.
In life getting off balance for me means Ive lost my focus on what is important and what grounds me—that is, what keeps me centered in the midst of chaos.
During my last two trips, I found myself on a couple of occasions getting angry. Because I let the anger go unchecked, it manifested itself into ugly behavior.
The first time my anger led to outbursts of cursing. Ugly Genevieve showed up. Boy can I let it rip. I think we all can when pushed to our limits.
The second unchecked anger led to anxiety. I was in a state of momentary mental chaos and crying to my husband on the phone that, “I am losing it!”
Both instances of unchecked anger only lasted a couple of hours at best, which is a far cry from yesteryear when they’d last for days on end. While I was able to crawl back into the light after those few hours of wallowing in the dark, I was left with the ensuing feeling of being off center, off balance. The residual darkness that lingered prevented me from fully coming back to center, to a place of uncompromised love, compassion, and humility. To make matters worse, my self judgment lopped on a healthy dose of self condemnation, “How could you let yourself get to that place again, Genevieve?”
Here’s what I learned about these episodes. I hope by sharing my experience that you can glean some insight so the next time this happens to you you’re armed with tools and knowledge to get you back to your center.
How did I get off balance in the first place?
1. I regularly pray to God and meditate on his life-sustaining words. I’ve gotten into a routine of starting off each day with 20 minutes of meditation followed by prayer where I confess my transgressions of the previous 24 hours and then ask the Holy Spirit to ignite inside my heart to lead me through the day.
My morning routine of private time with the Lord was compromised because I wasn’t sleeping well on my trips. Different time zones, different beds, different food, different schedule all affected my sleep, and by day three of each trip, any semblance of a routine went out the hotel window.
2. I exercise regularly. I find it keeps my body in a balanced, calm state. The physical release of energy triggers an emotional release as well, and that needs to happen, I believe, to keep one’s body serene.
As much as I intended to exercise on my trips, my post 50-year-old body would rather sleep then get up and jog. So, my regular workouts, stretches, and hotel room Pilates routines played second fiddle to the reasons I was traveling in the first place.
Praying to God, meditating on his word and exercising are the simple life habits that keep me grounded. And what I mean by that is when I’m in balance my heart and soul are bathed in warm love and compassion for myself and others, and true humility exudes from my being.
So how did I get myself back to center? I can tell you it wasn’t as easy as slipping back into my daily morning quiet time when I got home. I was still wrestling with a low level of anxiety days after my outbursts that prevented me from sitting still and focusing. The laundry needed to be done. Rugs needed to vacuumed. Emails needed to be answered. Distractions were winning out.
While I audibly offered up prayers for help there was not much conviction behind them. So, I knew that was futile. I needed to find something that would take me down and break me down, so I could get back to that place of true humility and love, and gentleness and kindness towards others. No judgment. No negativity.
Here are some things I discovered that, in combination, worked to get me back to feeling balanced enough where I could ease back into my prayer, meditation and Bible reading routine again.
My Restoration Acts
1. Focus on others, rather than ones self. When we get off balance, the focus shifts from others to ourselves. And getting inside our own heads is what often gets us into trouble. I made a conscious decision to reach out to key people in my life to ask how they were doing and listen with a compassionate ear. That helped move my needle a bit.
2. Go for a brisk walk. No matter where you are, you can always go for a walk. Even if you’re in the midst of others, say like on a busy sidewalk, a stroll can be a solitary act. A fast walk for me is good physical exertion, but metaphorically it helps me walk away from the residual darkness lingering around me. I walk purposefully, and then I start to mutter my thank you’s. This leads to number 3.
3. Run through one’s gratitude list. We all have things to be thankful for, but again, when the monkey chatter starts in our brains, we lose sight of the basics for which we should be thankful. That simple act of thanking God, yes God, for the fact that I got home safely, that I have a home to venture back to, with a husband and pets who love me moved my needle even more. Verbalizing our gratitudes supernaturally moves us back towards center. Yes, Gods involved in that process because He tells us that He loves when we acknowledge and praise Him for all the blessings Hes bestowed upon us.
4. Journal our gratitudes. If saying them out loud or in prayer doesn’t work to “move” you then write them down. The act of expressing ourselves on paper can be very therapeutic. Focus on the positives at this stage, not the negatives. This is a time for restoration of our soul, not rehashing the past.
5. Listen to uplifting music. Tune your radio to an inspirational music station like K-Love or some other faith-based channel so that your soul is fed with sounds inspired by the light of the world.
I pulled out my guitar yesterday and learned the three chords to “I Surrender All” and just sang and sang and sang, and then continued to belt out the lyrics while walking around my yard. A miraculous thing happened. Tears began to stream down my face.
My everyday miracle!
The light—God’s overwhelming love and warmth moved my soul to weep.
The light of God, which never left me but was veiled for a time, was shepherded by focusing on others, being thankful, and singing songs of praise. When it finally broke through, my soul wept in overwhelming gratitude and love for the One who never forsakes us when we get off balance.
Ahhh…. my soul is set free… once again.
What I learned:
A special woman I met on my first trip told me after she witnessed one of my little hissy fits, “You’re human. Be easy on yourself.” She’s right. It’s OK to have missteps in life, to slip back into old habits. Learn from them and move on.
And then a friend from home shared her wisdom on it all: “At least you figured it all out rather quickly.” She’s right. The everyday miracle for me is that I didn’t stay in these ugly places very long, and that I was still connected to God in the midst of the dark clouds, and with a little glance in His direction He showed me how to connect deeply with Him again.
If you’re feeling out of sorts, off balance, not quite right consider engaging in my personal acts of restoration.
I’d love to hear from you what things you do to restore your soul to wholeness. Please share them with me in the comments below.
About the Author
Genevieve Schmitt is the founder of WomenRidersNow.com. She was raised in a strict Catholic household, but in college the journalist in her starting asking questions of organized religion. By age 30 she developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and since then works daily to surrender her stubborn will and vain ego to allow the Holy Spirit to guide her life. She now considers herself a non-denominational Christian. In the summer of 2014, with guidance from God, she started expressing her faith journey in this column, Everyday Miracles. Feedback from WRN readers has been overwhelming positive proving that people crave so much more.