“The race is not given to the swift, nor the battle to the strong” Ecclesiastes 9:11
Have you ever had one of those days, you know, one of those “special” days, when you feel so in sync with God, yourself, and the world around you that it’s almost magical? You wish you could capture it, in all of its essence, for you know that tomorrow may be a totally different day with lessons of its own. I often have these days, but for now, I wish to focus on one in particular, during which I found myself confronted with some internal fears and doubts about my life. Being confronted with fear is one thing, but my question was more so related to now that I know what I know, what do I do about it? How do I change those things that I truly desire to change?
First off, I am in the business of change. I am a licensed professional counselor in private practice. Furthermore, I have been working in social and human services for over 20 years, so I like to think I know a little bit about change, good and bad. Because of this, I know firsthand how difficult change can be and not because I feel I can change others (I have long realized this is impossible and tiresome), but because I have watched others struggling to change even though they are armed with the tools and information I have given them. In short, change is difficult. Even more so, it can be scary. This scary feeling is the entire basis of this article.
While I thought about change, I began to question and explore the process of change itself. Even though change can and sometimes does happen in an instant, the change I am referring to is a deeply rooted, transformational change at the soul level and not simply a decision relating to changing lanes in traffic or choosing a new toothpaste brand. The change I am referring to often does not happen instantly. While the decision to change, the “aha” moment, may happen instantly, the process of change itself is much like that of a caterpillar going through metamorphosis. It can get hairy, scary, and ugly. So, as I pondered all of this, I asked the question: If change is a process (and I believe that it is), then what does one do in the meantime? What do you do while you are going through the process of change?
The answer that came to me was, “Pace yourself and breathe.” Could it really be that simple?
I recalled a time, not long ago, when I began teaching myself to distance run. Having been a sprinter for five years in high school, I had long decided that I was not a distance runner. So, when I set a goal to run for thirty minutes consistently, it was then that I learned the true meaning of pace yourself…and breathe.
Allow me to first say that I approached this decision in the same way I approached other things in my life. Much like my training and experience as a sprinter had taught me…I start, run fast, and try to finish first. I was good at this. I knew how to do it well, but I soon discovered that this tactic did not apply to distance running. Needless to say, I found myself exhausted and struggling to breathe in the first five minutes. Looking at the other runners around me, I wondered if they had a special gift which I did not possess.
Determined, I continued to pursue my goal by running in five-minute intervals, until I was able to complete fifteen consecutive minutes. I was elated, yet also nervous that this was as good as I would get. I continued to stay at this level for weeks until one day something inside pushed me to keep going after I reached the fifteen-minute mark. I didn’t think I would make it. My legs ached, my lungs hurt and I thought I must not have had on the right clothes or shoes because I felt heavy and clumsy. Nevertheless, I persevered and ended up running for twenty full minutes. Now that I knew I could do twenty minutes, I began increasing my time minute by minute until eventually, I hit my thirty-minute goal.
The funny thing was that by this time, my goal no longer mattered to me. I found joy in the sheer act of running itself, and I began to think that maybe this is what change and life are all about. Every day since then, I have come to realize that there is no end goal in life, no finish line, and no destination. The real joy in life, I’ve found, is in living it day after day, and that change is the process of life unfolding minute by minute, breath by breath. No matter how difficult life is at times and how challenging change seems to be, trust that you and I are a part of a wonderful process that is continually occurring. And if whenever you feel as if you can’t go another step – your legs ache, your lungs hurt, and you feel heavy and clumsy – remember to pace yourself…and breathe.
This feature was submitted by Giovanna Geathers.
Giovanna Geathers is a licensed psychotherapist and CEO of Touchstone Counseling & Coaching in which provides mental and emotional health services to youth, couples, families, and adults. She is also a powerhouse speaker and life coach who facilitates seminars, conferences, retreats, training, workshops and she is the founder of The Breathe Women’s Retreat and The Breathe Women’s Conference. In 2017, she released her first book on relationships entitled, Why Am I Still Single and she hosts a weekly radio talk show called Heart & Soul. She is also a married mother of two who loves to read, write, and travel.
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