Mindfulness for Life
"What is man that you are mindful of him? ...that you care for him?" Hebrews 2:6 NIV
Another translation says it this way: "What is man and woman that you bother with them? Why take a second look their way?" ~The Message
Vulnerably, I'll begin by telling you a story -- one that is written from the heart... it's not perfectly written, but I believe telling it would be better than not telling it. Even if it just helps encourage one person. With that in mind, thank you for reading!
Very quickly after high school, I knew I needed to move out of my parents home. I had planned on going to Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois to be a Physical Therapist. I had received scholarships, filled out applications and got accepted. I even went to a weekend visit and stayed overnight, to which ended in the financial aid office where we (my parents and I) finalized everything monetary-wise so that I could begin. I was so excited!! I had worked for this -- every "A" on a test mattered now. I had a goal in mind and I had reached the goal. I further prepared to reach this goal by buying my own car so I could get to college! This sacrifice came at a huge cost, when I gave up playing softball -- a game I absolutely LOVED -- my senior year. In my mind, I had to. If I didn't have a car, that meant I didn't go to college. And I had worked with that goal in mind for so long. Well, it didn't happen. After signing all of the paperwork and getting into our family car all together (my mom, dad and I) we began the long drive home. I don't remember how far down the road we got before my dad without casting a glance at me and said, "You're not going to college. We're not going to let you get that much in debt... we're not going to let you go..." ...and I sat in the backseat all alone and cried the whole way home.
Growing up in a "christian" home and having amish-rooted ancestry, I was certainly not allowed to "talk back." It came with severe, physical and emotional consequences. That's why I put the word "christian" in quotation marks, ...really it was an unhealthy and toxic environment with the mask of being christian when we were outside those four walls. Here I was, an adult-aged woman, and still "behaving" as I was taught/trained to. My life had lost meaning. After all, I planned for this more than my own wedding! I prayed, researched, sacrificed and did the work for this -- who was anyone to take it away?
It wasn't long until my "four walls" meaning, my body, wouldn't tolerate this unjust treatment or living with them any longer. After a lot of hurtful words spoken to me by my dad, I ended up moving out and living with my pastor and his wife, Debbie Metzger, whom I had the privilege of helping take care of but she and her daughters helped me begin to heal. I got a job working as a physical therapist aide at Coldwater Hospital in Michigan and eventually applied to schools again. I even applied to Taylor University, right here in Upland, Indiana and made the trek from two hours away for an interview! I loved the campus, tour guide, and the beauty of the day -- hope was taking root again. On the ride home, I knew it was unaffordable for me. Being that I had moved to Michigan, and hadn't gone to college right out of high school, I lost all of my scholarships and health insurance. I was on my own in every sense of the word. As I was alone and driving "home" words and song came to me and I remember singing this all the way home:
"You had it planned from the start
You knew my name and each single part
You said you had a plan and it wasn't to harm me oh
You have a plan and it isn't to harm me and I....
I thank you Jesus... for creating me
Thank you Jesus... for making me whole
Thank you Jesus... for loving me so
Oh and I... want to love you right back." ~love Jenni
No one was with me there in the car. AND YET GOD WAS WITH ME. I experienced joy again and perhaps true joy for the first time ever! Why did God "see" me in this moment? ...when there's a planet full of billions of people... Why did God take a second look my way and notice me? He is mindful and He cares. "IF" God is love, which I truly believe, then love is mindful.
When we are mindful, we are more loving to others and to ourselves. Mindfulness for life is slowing down enough and often to "see" yourself and the situation. Mindfulness for life is noticing that you are being what you're being and you're who you are right now is who you're choosing to be for a reason. Mindfulness for life is caring... and bothering to show someone you care by loving expressions that are pure... and bothering some more to be fully awake and present and aware. It's tuning in to the song of love Divine is singing through you.
Through sharing my personal and true story above, my hope was to encourage you to listen to your body as a compass. We all have past stories of plans that didn't come to fruition or hurts we've had to endure. Unfairness, not able to be understood. The body doesn't lie. Tears mean something. Anger means something. Depression means something. Paying attention to the signals, sensations, and even pain in YOUR body is also mindfulness. When we are mentally attentive to the language of the body, we can help our minds to stay (or come back to) in the present moment. Then we can take our next breath and give thanks for anything and everything we think of -- the oxygen we breathe, our lungs that fill and expand, and driving away from the small town of Upland that sunny day. Trust God is at work and that everything is happening for a reason. Words of wisdom from my friend Cheryl, we don't have to understand the "why' ...we just have to be okay with understanding that knowing the reason why, still wouldn't make it any easier. So I say, why not practice staying in the present? Why not practice mindful living for abundant and healthier life? Whatever your circumstance is, we will treat ourselves (and others) a whole lot nicer, if we don't go down the "what if" trail. Say no to the monkey-chatter of your mind when it tries to lead you down that path, and notice you. are. still. breathing. See if you can notice the love song of the Universe playing through you... I'm still listening, too!
I'm inviting you to join me in this quest: to learn what mindfulness is and how we can practice it -- MAY WE REALIZE -- we're simply trying to learn how to love Divine right back!