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Running with Angels
Yesterday I woke up, put my shoes on, and immediately headed out the door for a 5-mile jog. I often like to do this in the morning. But yesterday, I started my run carrying some baggage with me. And I don't mean a backpack or even ankle weights, but I mean mental baggage. It seemed to start out as a somewhat hazy sort of day. I've learned, however, that neither our circumstances nor our feelings can really determine our happiness (or lack thereof), but that happiness is a choice. So if I'm jogging in the morning and it feels kind of "grey," I've learned not to make the choice to just go along with that feeling. Instead, I make protests against that, and I choose to be happy.
I heard an analogy recently that I love. Suppose you put on a pair of glasses, and then later you notice that a friend has some kind of strange mark on their face. You point that out to them in the hopes that they do something about it. A little while later you notice another friend with a similar mark. So you point that out as well, because they need to be aware of the problem if they're going to fix it. Later a third friend has the same mark. After awhile you realize that the problem doesn't really lie with all those other people, but the real problem comes from a defect in the glasses you're wearing. So you take those glasses off and -- lo and behold -- no one seems to have that problem any more!
When it seems like circumstances never quite work out, or that people always tend to act a certain way, or even if you just feel some mild fear or anxiety about what someone might do or say, it's useful to realize that we, too, can take off those glasses of despair, and change our perspective. The problem doesn't lie out there with all of them, and it doesn't even exist as an unfortunate, permanent part of us. No matter how discouraging or offensive that problem "out there" may seem, it's a defect in the glasses -- not in reality. So just take off the glasses! That is always a choice.
So when I was feeling burdened at the beginning of my jog, I remembered that idea. Then, almost instantly, that burden just vanished. Recently I heard a song on the radio that really speaks to this concept. It's called Strangely Dim by Francesca Battistelli. Here's a part of the lyrics that seems apropos:
But when I fix my eyes
On all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don't look around
Any place I'm in
Grows strangely dim
I love those lyrics because I can prove them myself. When we focus too much on a specific person -- even when those thoughts are good -- that can breed anxiety. But when we instead take the focus off that person and onto God -- on infinite, boundless Love -- then worries really do start to "fade and fall to the ground." The reason for this is because there is no person on earth that is big enough to be God. Only God can do that. So when we keep our focus on God, that takes all the pressure off, and starts to open up new possibilities.
This doesn't mean that thinking about others is bad, because it is important to love and cherish and support others. But even that we want to keep in moderation, and not neglect to keep our focus on God.
Yesterday morning, I consciously chose to do this. I had started out with the kind of laser focus on one individual that anxious thoughts try to impose on us, but that changed as I made the effort to resist that, and to replace those thoughts with seeking God. That's when the little fears that had seemed to creep in like foxes just melted away. And at that point, it really felt like I was running with angels!
Mentally, I heard all sorts of encouraging thoughts for the day. I heard angels in the form of ideas -- ideas for what I could do with my lesson plan for Sunday School the next day, what I could do later that afternoon to inspire others, and what I might include in some readings for church that I had coming up. My point is: this influx of inspiration and good ideas for the day just started coming, and it felt invigorating!
You can prove the very same thing for yourself. Maybe you've been feeling in a bit of a rut lately. Maybe things have just seemed hazy and you are wishing that certain circumstances could change, so that you can finally get back to not feeling so stressed out. The good news is that you don't have to wait. You can start right now by taking off those glasses.
Resist the temptation to think that your circumstances or even your feelings are shaping your outlook and attitude. Let your outlook and attitude shape your circumstances and feelings. As the Bible says, "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Resist worries, doubts, and mental haziness, and realize that you've got angels all around you, waiting on you. Listen, and be receptive to them! And maybe go for a jog too.