Stretching Spiritually

Two views of local Extension leaders drilling ...

(Photo credit: Cornell University Library)

Just like I exercise to keep my body limber, I believe in exercises that stretch me spiritually. Whether or not I’m in a good place emotionally or mentally, focusing on what I can do to make myself a better person is the stuff good growth is made of.

A few years ago I challenged myself to write down a few things a day I was grateful for. Even though it may not seem so, some days it was hard to come up with one thing. Some days I had a longer list; those were good days.

As I kept up this exercise, I found it became easier and easier to recognize things I could be grateful for. The sunrise, a good meal, time with my kids or husband, a joke that made me laugh out loud; these made my list. I kept an inexpensive journal next to my bed and tried to write something worthwhile each night. What all this brought about was a shift. A shift in thinking how really lucky I was to have so many blessings and grace in my life.

My next exercise challenge was three things a day. This challenge was to do three things a day for someone (any one’s) welfare but not to tell anyone else about it. This was definitely a challenge. I am a good talker and storyteller- wanna -be.

: Parking meter

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So I put coins in parking meters that were about to expire, I lit candles in church for someone who was suffering, I mailed personal notes of love or encouragement to friends. I gave canned goods to the food bank, smiled at strangers and said have a wonderful day! I offered my arm to someone older who needed the stability to cross the street.

The reward? A serious reduction in the world revolving around me. Also, a shift in Ego, the loud mouth in my brain who likes to say “It’s all about me baby!”. Extra reward: peace, serenity, balance.

I still do things every day that I don’t tell anyone about. I figure it’s between me and God. She knows. She smiles down on me and keeps me going in the right direction. She gave me some extra responsibilities lately and I’m trying to show her I’m up to the task. Obviously, she believes in me.

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7 thoughts on “Stretching Spiritually

  1. Mary

    Rock on sister. You make it seem so easy. thanks for the reminder to be grateful for the small things (which are really the big things) and focus out, not in.

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  2. Lillian Cannon

    I like this one a lot, Joanne. My spiritual stretching is to try to see the spirit within every person I pass on the street. This is important for me because when I am stressed, I become a judgmental misanthrope, so instead of indulging that, I try to think of one positive thing about each person I see; try to see them the way they might want to be seen.

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  3. Laurie Hertneky

    Love this, Jo! It’s a perfect blueprint for some of us (oh yeah, I’m talking about ME!) who have a tough time with the “giving up” part of Lent, and would prefer to do, as you so wonderfully put it, stretch myself spiritually in a proactive way. I’m going to give this a try. Thank you for such a great read, and for being you!

    Reply
  4. cjvennare

    Sharing a smile. Extending a hand to someone in need. Just being there. It’s always amazing to me to see how the smallest act of kindness can often make such a big impact on someone’s life. And make you feel warm and fuzzy inside too… Thanks sister! Love you!

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