“Be amazed!” Joyce Meyer told her audience this simple mantra to live by, and she never knew it would help me in a time of uncertainty. She doesn’t even know me.
Bob and I were visiting at a PJ’s coffee shop in New Orleans this past week. We both started sharing some uncertainties about our futures. Then Bob remembered the phrase from a Joyce Meyer video he had just seen: “Be amazed!” The mantra really got my attention.
We all generally know life is uncertain. We vaguely sense that everything can change in a moment. But we can hardly live with that reality in mind. It mostly scares the you-know-what out of us. We prefer to think things are settled and secure. So we can easily fall into a state of living you can call auto-pilot. We can race through each day of sameness, tumble into bed at night, and get up to repeat the same routine the next day. Everyone lives this way at times.
But then Life has a way of waking us from our sleep. Life changes suddenly, without warning, and the life we knew disappears, or at least alters significantly.
In such times our old friends worry and anxiety love to visit. They tell us a truth we never want to hear – that Life never was secure. They say we have always lived on shifting sand. And in truth, they are right. But worry and anxiety can also create a state of stuckness. They can paralyze us with fears of “what if?” So when we are awakened to the actual uncertainty of this life, how do we respond?
“Be amazed!” is a choice. It is a focus of attention. It is a decision to see the wonder of this very moment. It is a way of cultivating gratitude. It is a way I really want to live in this time of uncertainty. It is also a way to train my own mind, instead of letting it run wild like an unruly child.
Be amazed! – is also at the heart of mindfulness. If the nature of the mind is to run around in circles: one thought triggering the next, one mental scene connecting to the next, one emotion leading to the next, then – Be amazed! – is a way to return to living in the present moment. It hints at the attitude of curiosity that is central to mindfulness. It invites compassion for the life we are now living. And it makes room for connection with the amazing beings who surround us.
Curiosity, compassion, and connection are three hallmarks at the heart of mindfulness. They are ways of being awake to our moments, so that we do not come to the end of a day, or a life, wondering where it all went. And all three are contained in the attitude of – Be amazed!
This is how I want to live through my own time of uncertainty. I really do not know how my life will unfold next. I do not see ahead. But I also am choosing not to just take any job to fill the empty space or to guarantee some extra income. I never have believed in the motto: “Don’t just sit there, do something.” For that way never leads to wise action.
I choose instead to practice: “Don’t just do something, sit there.” And as I sit and watch to see how my life will unfold, I want to practice what Bob quoted from Joyce Meyer. I want to practice – Be amazed!
I am writing from Seattle, an amazing city I had never visited until now. Yesterday we visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit in the Seattle Center. We viewed amazing blown glass displays like this:
This afternoon my wife and I plan to take a boat through the Puget Sound to Victoria, British Columbia. I expect we will Be amazed! Tomorrow we plan to see the floral beauty of Butchart Gardens there and to Be amazed! When we return we plan a trip to the Olympic National Park, another reason to Be amazed!
We do not know how the details will work out. There may be some snags, because that is just how Life happens. But instead of letting worry and anxiety rule the day, we will choose to Be amazed!
When we return to New Orleans we will be tempted to fall into routines. The compulsion to live on auto-pilot will be strong. A week from today we will be challenged to see if we can practice amazement even in our usual setting. So here’s a prayer that we, and you, will do the best we can to really live the mantra in uncertain times, to make this our life: “Be amazed!”