Spiritual Fitness

Spiritual Fitness

A dog attacked me. Not a large dog. One of those little dogs my sister refers to as a waste of air. This experience demonstrates why we need to flex our spiritual muscles as well as our physical muscles on a daily basis.

On my walks, in addition to focusing on my form and breathing, I use the time as an opportunity to think, dream, problem solve, meditate, pray and marvel at God’s glorious creations in nature. When I was competing as a race walker, I had an affirmation I would repeat that helped me to walk faster. An affirmation is a personalized, positive statement that describes a specific goal and is repeated until it is rooted in the subconscious mind. Affirmations can be transformational.

Recently, I decided that I wanted a goal-oriented affirmation then while I was walking, it came to me. I was so excited about my statement I was in a zone totally focused when this little mass of rust-colored fur ran up to me barking ferociously. Jarred out of my equilibrium, I realized I had to defend myself. My first instinct was to get out of its way. Every step I took, it was right there with me. Barking nonstop. I yelled, it barked louder. I jumped, it jumped and then it nipped my pant leg. I felt teeth on my leg and was grateful I listened to the Spirit in the form of that small voice within that said, “Put on an extra pair of pants.”

After what seemed like hours, the owner of the dog emerged from a house, called the dog and the incident was over as quickly as it began. Still shaking from the excitement, I began walking away and again the Spirit sent me a message. My attention was directed to a bush of lavender leaves I never noticed before even though I’d walked that path on several occasions. In addition to being a natural anti-inflammatory, regulating mood, relaxing muscles, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, lavender relieves nervous tension, depression and emotional stress. I picked a piece of the lavender from the bush and inhaled three long breaths as I walked down the street. I immediately began to relax.

In that moment, I realized something much more profound had occurred as a result of that incident. How many times have you set a goal for yourself only to be taken off course when an obstacle was thrown in your path? I was focused on my goal, and then an obstacle showed up to take my focus off of the goal I set for myself. In this instance, the dog represented the enemy, an obstacle. At the very moment I had determined I wanted to adopt a positive thought that would motivate me to keep my eye on the prized goal I had set for myself, a distraction showed up to disrupt the flow.

My New Year’s resolution was to be obedient to the Spirit of God. I was obedient to the Spirit when I heard the instruction to put on an extra pair of pants that morning. Even though I complained to myself that I was too warm as I walked to the park, my obedience saved me a trip to the hospital for a dog bite and shots. By being obedient and plucking the lavender leaves, I was able to calm down and go back to my affirmation instead of keeping my attention on an incident that could have ruined the remainder of my day. These instances might seem trivial, but I was exercising my spiritual muscles. I’m getting stronger as I learn to recognize the voice, listen and be obedient because the outcome will always be for my greatest good.

As I inhaled that third breath of lavender walking down the hill, I looked up to saw a woman walking with a much larger dog. I didn’t feel threatened or uneasy. As a matter of fact, as I got closer, I could saw that the dog was on a leash and the woman used herself as a barrier between the dog and me. She clutched the leash tightly as we calmly passed each other and exchanged greetings. In that moment, I heard that small voice say, “I got you.” And I said, “Thank you.”

How do you exercise your Spiritual muscle? Please take a moment to leave a comment, share with your friends and/or submit your email address to receive my weekly newsletter. I look forward to hearing from you!