That Still Small Voice

be anxious for nothingYesterday, I planned to clean out the remainder of my attic. The weather was predicted to be rainy and I thought it was the perfect type of day to complete this project. But, as you know, if you live in the Northeast, the weather is about the last thing you can count on.

As I sipped my coffee on what turned out to be a beautiful morning, I decided that I would instead plant my summer garden. Earlier in the week, I’d purchased some flowers but the rainy weather prevented them from landing in their new home on the side of my house.

The task of clearing out the annuals began. With clippers in hand, I began chopping away at the remains of the daffodils, hyacinths and tulips. Because of all of the rain the night before, these remnants were soaking wet and it wasn’t long before my garden gloves were a hot mess.

Those who know me well know that I love to garden. I enjoy planting flowers, herbs and the occasional vegetable, nurturing them, and then enjoying the fruits of my labors throughout the summer. However, I do have an innate fear that during this process, a tiny creature might appear and derail my efforts. You know what I’m referring to – earthworms.

One word – EW!

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I hate worms. In fact I hate nearly all reptiles. They creep me out beyond words and while I see the need for them in the ecosystem, I’d prefer that they’d share their gifts in someone else’s garden. Although I came across a spider or two and some other crawly things, I was earthworm free for most of the project.

Then, as I was nearing the finish line, it happened. No, I was not greeted by a slithery, slimy creature. It was worse. As I stretched to trim that somewhat out-of-reach stem, twisting as no one of my age should, it happened. That ever so subtle ‘pop’ in which you know in seconds means disaster. I felt the pull in my lower back, the shortness of my breath and I thought – my summer garden is kaput.

My typical reaction would be to panic, to mutter four-letter words or cry (one of the delights of being a peri-menopausal woman). But this time, I chose not to repeat an age-old pattern.

Instead, I slowly took several deep breaths, straightened myself up and said a short prayer. I thanked God for the beautiful day, that I was able to work in the garden and that He’d blessed me with nearly two hours of earthworm-free gardening. As I picked up the clippers and slowly began the final chops, the pain began to dissipate. I stood up and realized that I was not paralyzed nor derailed from finishing my project, but actually relatively pain free.

Miracle? No, not really. Just the results of working Plan B.

As I said, my typical Plan A is to panic, overreact and likely perform some action that I’d regret later. I have a tendency to do this when faced with unexpected situations. Just ask my kids about the multiple spilled milk meltdowns they’ve witnessed under my care.

This time, I decided to try something else and guess what? It worked. Not only did it work, but it worked perfectly.

You may be asking what prompted that Plan B implementation yesterday morning. Simple. During my morning contemplative prayer time, here’s what I clearly heard – “Be still and go slow.” I remembered those words as the tiny pangs of pain echoed through my lower back threatening to ruin my day. I also remembered to express my gratitude for what I’d been given during that time.

It’s tempting to think that this slight wrenching of my back was ‘cured’ simply because it was only a little muscle pull. I know better. I know better because I’ve experienced these nuisances countless times in my life and each time they have resulted in hours in bed with Icy Hot globbed on my back, heating pads and pleas to massage therapists to squeeze me into their jammed schedules.

This time, I decided to take a different approach. Prompted by that still small voice I hear each morning, I was saved from a day of pain and mentholated messes.

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I woke up today with sore muscles but a lower back that’s free and clear of pain and a summer garden that’s planted and ready to bloom.

This small but impactful lesson is a terrific reminder to me that it’s time to ditch my Plan A habit of freaking out to life’s everyday hiccups and instead, deploy Plan B – a kinder, gentler approach that is sure to reap huge benefits not only to me but to those around me.

Executing Plan B says that I rely not on myself to fix the situation but a power greater than myself. Is there something in your life that needs a Plan B? It’s worth a try.

Jen’s Gem: That still small voice, which you have, is not just for emergencies. It will guide you throughout your day.

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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2011-2024