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How To Eat An Elephant – Spiritual Endurance part 2

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Besides, even metaphorically, you can’t eat an elephant in one sitting. It would be overwhelming to do so. What we are talking about here is endurance. Endurance is what we need to go the distance. To reach the goal of the finish line before our reserves give out. A few posts ago, I spoke about having patience. Cultivating patience builds up spiritual endurance. But spiritual endurance is so much more than just having patience. It is also about working toward a goal, a little bit at a time.

Goals and Spirituality

Having a goal is a great plan. From a goal, you can design a map or chart a course which will help you reach the destination. But just because we have a goal and a plan, doesn’t mean that we are guaranteed to reach the goal or destination. Life throws us unexpected curve balls:

  • Our vehicles break down
  • A life event occurs (like an unplanned pregnancy or divorce)
  • We run out of steam, health or money

A few years ago, I started doing sprint triathlons. (Sprint triathlons are the shortest form of triathlon you can do. The usual distance is to swim 1/2 mile, do a 12 mile bike and then a 3 mile run.) It was my way of avenging an unplanned health issue. Training for the triathlon gave me hope and helped build back my endurance and strength. I got a coach because I was in such poor physical shape, I was afraid of hurting myself.

Don’t Overtrain!

The first lesson my coach gave me was to warn me. Most newbies make the mistake of overtraining. They start out too fast and they start trying to run too long, and they end up injuring themselves. He taught me the necessity to keep the eye on the prize – and go the long game. Even if it means starting out more slowly than I wanted. I trusted my coach and I learned how to tap into my endurance. By slowing down and staying steady, I was able to pace myself and did 4 sprint triathlons that summer.

Life has its own timetable

Today, I hear a lot of grumbling that COVID is taking a toll on their mental health. They are tired of the pandemic, the endless negative news, the rising numbers. They yearn for the olden days when we lived our lives ‘normally’ and didn’t have to be separated from one another. I feel their pain. I too have children who are stuck inside our home, doing 100% remote learning. They beg me to allow them to have play dates with their friends again. And we all yearn for some form of normalcy.

Enter: Spiritual Endurance

But alas, the one thing COVID is giving us is the ability to learn spiritual endurance. It is not the first time that civilizations have had to learn this spiritual principle. In the Torah, (Hebrew Bible, Old Testament) the Israelites were on course with a plan. They were supposed to leave Egypt, turn left and get ready to enter the Promised Land. But then, at Mt. Sinai, when Moses took ‘too long’ in returning with the Ten Commandments, they built the golden calf.

Okay, they made a big mistake. But after the Israelites didn’t trust the Caleb and Joshua’s report about the Promised Land, it was clear – these Israelites could not be the generation that inhabits the land. We learn from this biblical parable that even God had to pivot! Life happens and we adjust and persevere.

Numbers 11:17, says, “they shall share the burden of the people with you, and you shall not bear it alone.”

Life was meant to be lived and enjoyed with others. We are not meant to be separated from the community for long periods of time. Thus, we must adjust and persevere in this situation as well. The goal is to stay mentally healthy and robust through this second slow down. We can use the tool of spiritual endurance to know that if we keep our pace slow and steady, we will win the race.

But the biggest takeaway about the Israelites in the desert. They stayed together. They struggled – but they didn’t struggle alone. They reached out and walked together.

Warning: I’m going to get a little weird here – but stay with me!

Angel Numbers

I want to introduce you to a concept known as “Angel Numbers.” Angel numbers are numbers that we see and repeat seemingly coincidentally. But is is a coincidence? Carl Jung believed that we were connected to something called the “Collective Unconscious.” That is, we are born with certain intuition and when we are tapped into the subconscious, we actually can receive signs via archetypes, numbers or signs.

So the number 111 is an angel number because the ‘1’ repeats itself three times. 777 is also a strong number – 7 being a spiritual number as well. The verse above, is from Numbers 11:17. That is three ‘1’s’ and one ‘7’. Let’s see how many of you become attuned to seeing numbers repeating now that I have brought it to your attention.

The result of COVID is that we feel very isolated. Social media, Zoom and random trips to the grocery store can only take us so far. The good news is:

  1. We have realized the necessity to have friendships
  2. That we need to have a strong community around us
  3. That support comes to us whenever we let people in

I asked my high school students if COVID has changed there view of the world. We’re they more cynical, or more loving? Were they more secular or more religious? I was surprised to hear them admit they had become more spiritual as a result of their social isolation. When we come back together in our communities, we will have a renewed sense of gratitude for one another. Hopefully it will not subside in time. Maybe the lessons of COVID will make us more compassionate and loving toward one another, and we will not take the ability to gather safely for granted.

Life doesn’t always happen on our time table and in the way we thought it would.

And thank God! Otherwise, life would be boring. I mean really, tell the truth: How many of you predicted a pandemic when you were planning your year last year?

But this coming secular year can be different. We can know that we need one another. And that God has our back. The angels will send us signs, if we are open to seeing them. And if you don’t believe in it, no worries! Just call it coincidence.

But leave me a comment below and let me know your experience with any of the topics I’ve mentioned above: isolation, the struggle of COVID on your life plans, angel numbers. And until we meet again – may you be blessed along your spiritual journey!

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