This Is Church To Me

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This Is Church To Me

Szabo Ervin-Edward : Getty

I started doing something a few years ago after a friend of mine suggested it because it’s changed her life. I wake up every morning, put my feet on the ground, and think about all the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for waking up. I’m thankful for my kids. I am thankful for clean drinking water. I am thankful I am meeting a friend for lunch that day.

Whatever brings me inner peace or joy, no matter how small, I make sure to acknowledge my gratitude for it.

Then, I set my intention for the day which includes any work I want to get done, things around the house I need to tend to, and I never leave out bonding time with my kids and friends. Then, I somehow get it all done.

This way of thinking has taken practice. Morning stress is the real deal, and I used to start my day out on a flurry of activity thinking about all I needed to do without being conscious of all the angst and drama I was causing in my own head because I didn’t want to do this or that or the other.

I felt like I didn’t have time to get to it all, and instead of waking up and feeling thankful for trees, air, and the fact my children are here on this earth with me, I was uptight, stressed, and could feel myself shrinking at the smallest inconvenience.

When I first started this ritual, it was a struggle. My brain tried time and time again to fall back into its old patterns.

Now, it’s second nature and a much better way to start my day than when I used to open my eyes and let my anxiety run wild because if I let it, it will.

This time of day is when my church service starts. And if I don’t do it, there is always hell to pay. It has brought me more peace than all the Sundays I’ve sat in a pew combined, and if I have a morning when I let it slip through the cracks, my day goes to shit and I walk around doing everything half-assed.

Then, after I get my kids to school, I put in my ear buds, download an uplifting podcast or whatever music I feel like listening to (usually something from the ’80s and ’90s because it takes me back to a simpler time in my life), and I run.

I come home and I feel clean and sharp and ready to face the day that lies ahead of me.

Nothing makes me feel more connected to myself than carving out time to clear my head and do something that’s just for me. It has had long-term gains that have benefited me as well as other people– especially my kids.

I believe in leading by example so I not only tell my kids what an impact being mindful and thankful and taking time to do something that will help muffle the noises of the day, I encourage them to do the same.

My oldest has found his church at the gym lifting heavy weights. My daughter loves to sing, and my youngest gets lost in his sketch pad.

When they do these things, I can see a shift in their self confidence and mood. I can tell they are starting to see the connection and hopefully are building habits that will help them live their best lives.

They are teenagers and don’t always appreciate words when they are mad about not having any more cheese slices or their father makes them go ice skating for the day, and I remind them to be thankful they have a dad who wants to do things with them, and how there is other food in the fridge. But at least they know what’s coming when they open their mouth to complain.

The definition of spirituality according to the Oxford Dictionary is: “The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.”

We don’t attend church on Sundays or any other day of the week in my family because, for us, that doesn’t feel like an effective way to nurture our souls. I realize that isn’t the case for everyone–there’s no right or wrong way to go about this. What’s important is you are doing things that feed you and make you feel alive and like a better version of yourself.

I practice spirituality on the daily by connecting with myself outside. My church is seeing an owl fly in front of me or a family of deer run through the snow.

My church is running for an hour and knowing I did something really hard that was good for me even if I didn’t want to do it. It’s helped me realize I am capable and has given me more resilience in my life when hard stuff comes up.

My church is knowing I can tune out for an hour and relive a part of my childhood and think about someone I used to be.

My church is being thankful for the little things that bring me joy and acknowledging them every single day, knowing if they were to disappear I would be mad I took them for granted for so long.

Nothing preaches to me more than when I take the time to be aware.

And my church is sharing this way of thinking with my kids (even of they roll their eyes every time) because I truly believe they get more out of tuning in to the things that make them feel healthy and alive not just by doing them, but by being mindful and intentional about how they go about their days.

I’ve had my years of not living a spiritual life, I will never go back, and I want nothing more than for my kids to start exploring their spirituality earlier than I did.