faith

Peaceful Butterflies

It is a spiritual practice. I check in with myself every day to see how I’m feeling. When I journal every morning, after I review the day that has just passed, I jot down what I know about the current day. Then, I write down what I’m feeling.

It is almost always a “mixed grill” as Anne Lamott calls it, a tangled up set of a range of feelings. I do this because I’ve learned that when I get too busy or too stressed I become disconnected or unaware of my feelings. In this spiritual practice, I don’t judge how I feel, I just make note of it.

In a couple of days, I’m speaking at a sold out Women’s Retreat we are calling Soul Spa. I will speak seven times between Friday and Sunday. A team of women has been working on this event over a year. On Friday, it will all come together. In today’s feeling check-in with myself I wrote down: Peaceful with Butterflies. This made me smile.

When I was a child, teen, college student and seminarian, I was painfully shy. If called on or put on the spot to answer a question or speak, I would die basically.

Somewhere in there I felt God calling me into ministry which was a pretty big dilemma. I bargained, “Ok, I guess, as long as I don’t have to say anything.”

What a transformation God did on me from point A to point B. Somewhere along the way, I wrestled my shy and awkward nerves into submission by telling myself “I’m not going to let fear get in the way of what God wants me to say.”

We’ve all had that feeling of our stomachs reacting to fear, stress, adrenaline. Strangely, it is even associated with falling in love. Nicole Spector reports that scientific research connects it to our fight or flight response. Our stomach muscles get extra sensitive and neurons along our brain/gut axis fire up. What’s happening is a reduced flow of blood to the stomach in case we need to run to save ourselves, fight or flight.

My best speaking breakthrough came when I remembered that in Christianity butterflies are a symbol of new life.

After that my stomach butterflies didn’t feel like debilitating nerves but more like new life, something good and beautiful shimmering in me. It was very much like how it felt each time I was pregnant with the first whirring gentle flutter of each baby moving.

Today, I feel Peaceful Butterflies. This is my way of saying I’m anxious and filled with new life. I’m excited about the Soul Spa weekend. I’m excited about some other new things on the horizon. It reminds me that I’m alive, I’m pushing myself and that God is stirring me past fear and past myself.

What makes your insides flutter?

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three young adults, Mimosa/Mocha to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor.

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