I am very, very spiritual.
I don't talk about my spirituality often here because I know that there are some people who aren't and who don't like reading about that and I don't want to scare anyone away. But today I'm going to talk about it because I have all of this inside me and I feel like I will explode if I don't. If you're not of the praying kind, that's ok! You may think I'm crazy and I don't mind that either.
I pray all the time. I have conversations with God all the time and whether or not He is in the mood to listen to me, I talk anyway. Very much like I write blog posts and book passages in my head all day long, I pray. That's why sometimes I think my head is a very scary place to be, because it is always talking to someone, it can talk itself into something or out of something and way overthink something.
Then there are the times when I know I should be overthinking something because I am at a crossroads and I need to make a decision.
And that's when instead, I clear my mind and let it all go. God please show me the way. I will do what you want me to do.
And a door will open.
I have very significant milestones that I have attributed to prayer and every time I pray and an answer comes, it just strengthens my belief that prayer works.
I prayed when I needed to change jobs and direction in my life and eventually made the best move of my life. I prayed for my 2nd baby to reach 41 weeks after having my first come 6 weeks early. And then when I did, indeed, reach 41 weeks and prayed for my water to break yes, it broke that very night. I prayed for answers about why my first child came early. A preemie mom's group started and now I am one of the organizers and we work in our community to help other preemie moms. I pray for direction in my life every day and a road appears.
Yes, a practical mind would think I worked out the answer for myself. But I think it's something more.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a women's retreat at the church I grew up in with my mother. That weekend was a very difficult weekend because there were very difficult personal decisions to be made and there were very specific fears going on in both of our lives and I decided to throw my hands up and let God tell me what to do. I prayed for my family and prayed for an answer. I figured we had the whole weekend to come up with one.
That weekend was cleansing and overwhelming. It opened my eyes. I cried a lot. I heard God's voice. This is the part where you may think I'm crazy.
My mom had chosen the workshops ahead of time. She picked the ones that sounded the best and made the choice on her own. One of the workshops we went to was about reading psalms and meditation. At the end of the class, our speaker turned the lights off and we closed our eyes. She put on a cd that was the sounds of the ocean.
Now, I hadn't gone into this retreat with the thought of praying for my fear of swimming in triathlon. There were deeper family issues at hand and my focus was finding an answer for that. But as I listened to the sounds of the waves lapping, I saw myself standing at the water's edge, putting my toes in it and basking in the sun and the sounds of the ocean. It's one of my very happiest places in the world. And it seems really silly having grown up near the water and being afraid to actually swim in it. But I am. I get that panicky feeling, I don't like looking down below me and I have trouble breathing. It seems really silly but the fear is actually annoying and borderline debilitating. I swam last summer with a group along a causeway and it was murky and gross and there were jellyfish and mud and it was just gross and skeevy. I panicked in one of the swims in the triathlon at the end of last season. I didn't end the season on a high note in the open water. I have been scared ever since. And then there was that shark attack two weeks ago on the east coast. Seriously not helping.
Then as my eyes were closed and I was in my happy place alongside of the beautiful ocean, I saw myself throw myself into the water, backwards, with my arms spread open and joyful, with a happy, childlike smile and laughter, with my hair flying into my face as the water took me in.
I pray a lot for strength and bravery and found myself listening to the ocean and praying once again.
I saw myself frolicking. Like I was a child again. Splashing around and basking in the ocean's happy waves like the ocean was my best friend and we had a lot of catching up to do. The ocean was happy to see me. It took me in and swirled me around and hugged me and I felt like I was home. It's how I used to feel when I was a little girl, boogie boarding and playing in the waves for hours and hours and hours. These moments gave me that feeling again. That peace. That happiness. That childlike fearlessness.
And as I closed my eyes and listened to the seagulls and the waves crashing, I heard a voice and it was very clear. Fear not God's creatures, it whispered.
Then in my head, I swam.
At the end of the class, the speaker gave us each a shell. I cherish that shell because it was given to me as a symbol of courage and bravery.
So you can imagine that in all my spirituality, how amazed I am at just how fitting it is that my first open water swim of the season be on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. No one ever needs a swim partner to swim during the week in the afternoon, on a day I actually have childcare, but on this day, someone did.
But not to me. I believe with everything in me that I am exactly where I am meant to be, doing exactly what I am meant to do. That is why I can look back at my life and with everything in me, have not a single regret.
Like I said, the answers never come on "my" time. But they always, always eventually come.
On this Ash Wednesday, it is my day to be brave and fearless. Because I'm giving up FEAR for Lent.
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