Monday, March 16, 2015

The Same Old Thing Every Day: How Spiritual Disciplines Saved My Life

"Do you have to do this every day?" My youngest flops down on my caramel colored bedspread and rolls over onto her stomach. She's asking out of curiosity, not annoyance.

"Yes," I say. "It changes me." 

I'm in the same rocking chair where I cradled her in my arms 10 years ago. I glance out the window at the Weeping Cherry and the swirls of an orange and pink sunrise. I drink coffee with hazelnut creamer from a mug that says, "Put Your Big Girl Panties On and Get Over It." 

It's the same thing every day: coffee, rocking chair, and sunrise. To my right, in a blue wicker basket, I have my essential tools including Hannah Whitall Smith's God is Enough, the green Bible my friend Elizabeth gave me in 1994, my journal, and my favorite pen (the Pilot G-2 ultra fine point). 

Then, the ritual--the dance--begins. It's just Jesus and me as I read an entry from God is Enough, underlining and sighing in agreement with her words. I'm talking to Jesus about what I'm feeling, what I'm worried about, and what's coming ahead. I turn to the Psalms and read the next five. I'm asking Jesus to teach me, to change me. I'm asking Jesus to let His word work within me. I find I'm confessing bad attitudes and shedding off the old me like snake skin.

The new me comes into view, hazy at first and then fully here. I'm anchored again. I remember who I am. I open my journal and cry out to God in numbered lists about my children and husband. I pray over what's coming in this day. When I close the old journal and the equally worn Bible, I feel emptied out of every dusty thing that settled upon me in the night. 

By 8:00 AM, I'm out the door, walking children to school. 

"Do you do this every day?" my colleagues wonder when they realize the time commitment of walking a mile to school every day.

"Yes," I say. "It changes me." 

I'm not just walking; I'm composing a symphony with the rhythm of my steps; I'm forging invisible tethers of love to my neighbors that hold me when I'm lost; I'm remembering the beauty and simplicity of children and elementary school. I'm not just walking. 

Later, I sit down to write my blog. "Do you really do this every single day? No matter what?" my students ask. 

"Yes," I say. "It changes me." 

I'm transforming the mundane into something infused with God. The single most important spiritual discipline has been this daily reflection--normally written in 20 minutes or less--each day for the past 5 years. I'm teaching my heart the ritual of thanksgiving, of hope, and of God's presence in ordinary living.  

Once, I wasn't this woman. I lived in despair and regret and longing and fear. Everything within me felt dead or at least missing. I was missing from myself. The spiritual disciplines of study, prayer, journaling, Bible reading, walking, and blogging--and might I add the ritual of morning coffee--brings this lost girl home.

She returns to me every new day in the same old ways. 


Michele Morin said...

"It changes me." Yes. And I so need changing. What a great perspective on ALL the same old things we do every day.

LivewithFlair said...

Thank you, Michele!

bwsmith said...

A good goad -- and a reminder discipline is good mental and emotional as well as physical "medicine."

Robin Kramer Writes said...

This is beautiful.

Patricia W Hunter said...

I KNEW this would be good.

Christine said...

This is awesome, Heather. Thank you.

LivewithFlair said...

Thank you, Robin!!!

LivewithFlair said...

You are always so encouraging, Patricia!

LivewithFlair said...

Thank you, Christine!!

LivewithFlair said...

Yes! I forget the physical!!

Kim Quon said...

Well done, Heather! Love the coffee cup quote. Change is good. Especially when the change is for the better. Christianity really is about the person you are becoming.

Monica Sharman said...

Pilot pen! Yessss! :)

My favorite part: "I'm not just walking; I'm composing a symphony with the rhythm of my steps;"

dukeslee said...

Oh, this is so good. I would love to sit in a rocking chair beside you someday, sipping coffee and reading the psalms.