Yesterday I took the boys down to San Diego to visit my sister, Amy, and to spend the day with my brother’s family, too. We watched the funny little Bay Balloon Parade and played baseball in the kids’ baseball diamond downtown. Ate some wonderful food and enjoyed some wonderful views. It sounds idyllic, but in reality it was one of those days.
If you’re a mother, you know this kind of day: when otherwise perfectly amiable cousins seem to bring each other to the breaking point with their every move. A day when there’s entirely too much crying during a friendly pick-up baseball game and entirely too little cooperation among the ranks. We had more than our fair share of poking and “accidental” bumping and definitely too much drama. It was one of those days when I was ready to throw in the towel and go home for bed right after lunch. Yes, I know you’ve been there, too.
I’ve realized I’m a naturally negative kind of girl. It is oh-so-tempting for me to surrender to the fatalist thoughts that crowd my mind as I plod through the moment by moment problem-solving of a trying day with my kids. It has been a long journey for me to learn to grab onto what I like to call “pockets of peace.” My friend Michelle calls them “golden moments.” Whatever they’re called, I’m thankfully learning to look for them.
The first step toward peace on these days is for me to find those little pockets of peace, as hard as they sometimes are to seek out. Instead of focusing on the time outs and the sobbing, I’m focusing on Tyler’s chubby little fingers clasped just so behind his back as he watches the parade. Instead of deciding that there’s no hope of a happy day in the middle of the crisis, I decide to wait it out another five minutes and the mood suddenly changes. Instead of meditating on how annoyed the kids are making each other, I grab onto the little pocket of peace when everyone’s smiling momentarily. I find that little moment and I meditate on that.
That is the second step toward peace for me: to meditate on the pockets of peace rather than blowing up the bad moments. Nowadays I’m ever-so-slowly learning to blow up the good moments…to remember them more than the rest of the moments. Because anyone who’s naturally negative like me knows that we’re very good at meditating on the not-so-good things. We can turn them over and over in our minds until that’s all we’re thinking about. It takes real work and constant practice to meditate on the positive things, especially when the positive moments are few and far between.
Until recently, I’d never really thought about the fact that meditation isn’t only for those pursuing some kind of spiritual high. I meditate on something every day of my life, whether it’s how little I’ve gotten done off my to-do list, or how much fun it is watching my boys’ faces as they open their Christmas presents. I’m constantly thinking about one thing or another, and I’m realizing that’s what meditation is. I’m dwelling on something all day long, so isn’t it worth the effort to dwell on the good? I still struggle with this constantly on those kind of days like yesterday. Searching for pockets of peace and grabbing onto them, meditating on them, dwelling on them. To me, that’s a definite act of spiritual discipline.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Phillipians 4:8