So, I do this thing. Every morning, I wake up and say:
“Thank you, God for the breath in my body and the glory of this day!” I get out of bed and do my morning exercises. If I am home, I make my bed: Monday-Thursday and Friday-Sunday is the weekend, so no making bed. Then a series of a morning exercise routine. When I stay in this mode, I thrive and so do those around me. My head is clear and I leave room for each experience to grow my soul as with each breath expanding my lungs. What if I told you that your goals are the cumulative total of your habits?
Deeper than a level of self-awareness is selfless-awareness. Suffering makes us both empathetic and compassionate. Empathy is the understanding of what someone is going through or is maybe even stuck in for life. It’s the effect of suffering. Compassion moves us beyond empathy to affect change.
My friends who have experienced deep sorrows have these compassionate and beautiful souls. Some have walked adult children though addiction, others have diminished health, lost jobs, and a little past, mid-life divorce. The ones who have overcome and maintained their faith have one thing in common. They all had goals set to make it through the suffering and in those goals were a series of habits that served as signals on a dark road.
Last summer, I was walking along a mountaintop after finishing a talk. I stepped onto the lift to transport us down and as we stretched high above carpets of flowers and dotted homes built into the side of the mountain, something happened. I walked onto that lift with no clue that I would step out and not be able to walk without excruciating pain for over 7 months. What I came to learn was that I had irreparable damage to my lower back and incremental damage to my SI joint, hip, IT band and hamstring. All this resulting from a series of goals and cumulative habits. Even well intentioned, performance driven goals drove my body and mind to the point of physical and spiritual exhaustion. I pounded my feet to the pavement with every stride on a run. I thought my unmasked vulnerabilities would be a sign of weakness and I stuffed my spirit with sorrow like wound packing. My soul ached long before any physical pain manifested.
You may be wondering what making my bed has to do with overcoming anything but read on. That healing began in a simple prayer that grew and was fused with the habit of making my bed, doing my morning exercises. “Thank you, God for the breath in my body and the glory of this day! And I thank you that today, you have healed me.”
No matter how painful, I had that prayer on my lips. My desire to be healed was my goal and my faith through my habitual intention spoken out loud or to light filtering through the window, sustained me. I made my bed by getting rid of a few pillows and a heavy comforter. With ease, I pull a bedspread up. My exercises are done however my body allows me.
Take one minute to quiet your thoughts. We all have things we want to attain, those goals achieved. Mine was healing and peace. What are yours? They begin with a single action, compound by ritual and routine to form a habit or series of habits. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Remember this, you are intuitively designed by God to overcome.