CAN YOU SEE YOUR MIRACLES?

November is all about Thanksgiving, and how can we give thanks—how can we feel gratitude—until we are able to recognize the “small” miracles that happen in our everyday lives?

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” That is a quote that is popularly attributed to Albert Einstein, and while the true spiritual views of that great thinker were complex and might forever remain a mystery to all but the man and God himself, that quotation touches upon a profound truth regarding how we ought to view existence in order to truly feel alive. In order to feel truly blessed, thankful, and hopeful.

Life can be tough, and for some people, after life has been tough for a good stretch of time, a prevailing numbness, anger, or sense of resignation might try to set in.

After life has been difficult for a few months or even a few years, some people might simply throw their proverbial hands up and say: “There is no magic to my existence. There is no greater purpose here. There is no higher power that created me or Who is watching out for me. Life is what it is. It is a show about nothing. It is an episode of Seinfeld (without the laugh tracks), and then we die. There are no miracles.”

Now that’s depressing! The concept of a life without miracles is black and bleak.

But there is another way to view life, too, remember? There is Einstein’s second way to view life, and that is to view it as though it comprises a dozen or a hundred tiny miracles each day.

What about if we see all of life as a miracle? Or put another way, what if we take a moment to truly recognize the miracles that have already taken place or are currently taking place in our lives, even during those tough stretches?

How do we feel then?

We then feel uplifted, I think. And hopeful. Because if one miracle has happened or is happening for us, then any number of additional miracles can happen in our future.

Admitting to miracles is a way of thinking; it is a worldview that can transform us. Recognizing the miracles in life makes us optimistic, and it gives us hope even during the darkest of times.

Now when I say miracles, I’m not only talking about the birth of a child or the healing of an large illness (although these things can certainly be included). I’m also talking about things that might otherwise be discarded as too random or mundane to involve the hand of God. But then again, when one looks at all of life as a miracle, then nothing is really random or mundane.

I’ve certainly experienced some large and obvious miracles in my life, instances of healing that have happened for my wife and myself that no one would hesitate to put into that “Hand of God” category. But I’ve also experienced many of those “everyday” miracles, too. So let me give a couple of examples from the past six months.

Everyday Miracle Number One

I Narrowly Avoid Being Mauled by an Aggressive Canine While Jogging One Morning

About three months ago I was at a park and getting ready to go for a run. Now there was absolutely nothing special about the route I was about to take—it was a simple five miler through the surrounding neighborhoods, and I’d traversed it many times before—but that day as I put my earbuds in and did a quick stretch, something moved me to pray.

Specifically, some mystical impulse suggested that I should pray to God for safety. It suggested that I should pray that He would send his angels to protect me as I ran.

Okay, so I did pray for that protection, and here is what happened next.

After saying my extra little prayer for protection, I took the first steps of my run, and before I was even a mile down the road, a very large and very aggressive dog was chasing me. This dog, which looked like a Pit Bull or Bulldog in the heat of the moment, came tearing out of his front yard. He was barking as if possessed, and he actually crossed over the sidewalk and ran out into the street so that he could home in on me.

The dog jumped up onto my legs, and a shiver of fear that felt like an electric shock bolted through my entire body. My adrenaline and flight impulse kicked in, and I began running faster and faster, for some reason holding my hand out (as if I could have stiff-armed the dog into submission).

But the dog persisted. I felt his massive paws on my hip, and I felt his warm breath on my thigh. His teeth were maybe an inch from my leg, and at any second he could see fit to tear into muscle and tendon.

I continued my mad dash up the road yelling something clumsy like, “Hey, hey, hey!”

But before that dog’s mad teeth met my flesh, a human (presumably his owner) came chasing after him. And yes, the person doing the chasing actually looked (or at least acted) surprised that this dog was running me down, even though the house from which he ran proudly displayed a Beware of Dog sign in the window.

The owner grabbed the dog’s collar, I continued my running unharmed, and the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den suddenly felt more real to me than it ever had previously. And for the rest of that day and ever since, I’ve put that morning’s events into the my “everyday miracle bin” and given thanks for them.

Everyday Miracle Number Two

I Get Summarily Dismissed from the Jury Duty I’ve Been Dreading for Months

Earlier this summer I received an odd-looking envelope from the County Clerk. Now I was fairly certain that I hadn’t done anything outside of the law recently, but nevertheless I opened the envelope hesitantly, and when I viewed the letter inside my heart indeed dropped into my stomach. It was a notice to appear in court. I was being given the dreaded summons to that most inconvenient of civic responsibilities: Jury Duty.

Now, maybe for some people this jury duty is not big deal (my mother, for example, is fascinated by the inner workings of the courtroom and loves Matlock and would have loved to have received this call to duty). I, however, am not a man who likes to sit still or at attention for long periods of time, and so I immediately began imagining all of the ways in which this jury duty would torture me: I would have to be up at the crack of dawn to make the commute to this particular courtroom; I would be cooped up inside all day without sunlight or fresh air; I would not be able to exercise; I would not be able to work, maybe for an entire week (which again might be nice for some people, but for the likes of the self-employed presents a certain hardship).

So, suffice it to say I was not looking forward to this jury duty. And some months later, on the eve of my service, I prayed that perhaps there would be some form of early deliverance for me.

Then the morning came, and by 8:00 a.m. I found myself sitting in a large, overly lit meeting room at the courthouse with perhaps sixty to ninety other people, many of whom likely harbored the same resentments and anxieties as myself. People fiddled with magazines and books and phones, some wearing suits and others jeans (one twentysomething was actually dressed in sweatpants).

And on a large screen at the front of the room, the County showed us some TV channel that played never-ending loops of nature scenes, ostensibly to calm us and thus prevent a riot.

Now I’d read that some people might sit in this waiting room all day without even getting called to a courtroom (which would further delay things to the next day), but thankfully that didn’t happen for me. When the names of those in the first group slated to serve were read, I was among them, and up to a courtroom I went along with maybe twenty other people.

We were each called by name and told exactly where to sit, and then the macros of the case were explained to us. This was a criminal case. It involved multiple witnesses. (Translation, this actually might be one of those rare cases that ends up lasting all week long).

Then the the defense attorney and the district attorney began peppering us prospective jurors with questions. Did we know any of the potential witnesses? Did we believe that the testimony of witnesses is evidence? Did we have any biases against law enforcement? And so on and so on.

And even though some people seemed to be making a few waves in the pool with their answers to these questions, perhaps to cast doubt that they were fit to serve at this particular trial and thus be excused from service, no one was dismissed. That is until the following question was posed to us.

“Now later on in this trial,” said the defense attorney, “you are going to be shown a photograph of the defendant’s office. And in his office, you are going to see that he has, on his walls, pictures of Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan, and (former Wisconsin Governor) Scott Walker. Now, would that scene cause any of you to form an opinion about the defendant that would prevent you from remaining impartial as to the defendant’s guilt or innocence.”

My hand shot into the air as if prompted by unseen forces.

“Yes, Mr. Priebe,” the attorney said, reading my name hesitantly from the seating chart in his hand.

I suddenly felt a little nervous and my throat felt dry, but nevertheless I grabbed the microphone and began to voice my opinion on the matter, which was heartfelt. “I’m sorry,” I said, “but in my opinion someone who has such “rock-star” images of politicians on his wall might be a little unhinged.”

(And as a side note, the concept of hinged versus unhinged was very important here because the man on trial was being accused of multiple counts of harassment. It stands to reason that someone who is unhinged might be more prone to angrily pester people and violate restraining orders and such.)

“But what if I told you that these weren’t actually posters on the defendant’s office wall,” the defense attorney countered, “but simply eight by ten photographs. Would that change things for you?”

“No,” I said. “I just think that anyone who would have such pictures of politicians on their office wall instead of, say, family photographs, might be a little …”

“Unhinged?”

“Yes.”

“And could you remain impartial even though you have this opinion?”

“No,” I said. “I don’t think that I could.”

“Well, I’ll have to ask that this juror be dismissed,” said the attorney.

“Thank you for your candor, Mr. Priebe,” said the judge. “You are excused.”

And with that I was bouncing down the courtroom steps and into the sunshine by ten a.m., no worse for the wear. I actually ended up having a full day of work that day (much of which I conducted outdoors with the sunshine on my face), and I capped things off by going for a long celebratory run before dark. It was a good day.

And by the way, when I’d pulled into the courtroom parking lot earlier that morning, there was only one spot remaining: one that sat directly in front of the entrance. Coincidence? I don’t see it that way.

Was anything about that day a coincidence for me? I don’t happen to think so. I had woken up so worried about how jury duty might ruin my week, but then, after praying about it, I was given a premium parking spot, given a softball dismissal question pitched right down the middle of the plate (a question that I was answering with true conviction, by the way), and given a nice sunny day to use for working and running.

I see that day as answered prayers. I see it as God’s guidance in my life. I see it as an “everyday miracle,” if you will.

So this Thanksgiving month, as I set out to discover greater gratitude in my life and thus discover greater joy, I resolve to continue seeing all of the miracles, big and small, that happen in my life. I will continue actively looking for them, making note of them, and recognizing and verbalizing them.

What miracles have happened for you lately? What sorts of prayers have been answered? If you can’t immediately think of any answers to those questions, then try thinking a little harder.

It’s okay, it can sometimes take us a while to get into the habit of recognizing everyday miracles.

But it doesn’t matter if it takes us a while to get to that point of seeing and admitting miracles; it is simply imperative that we get there, somehow, someway. Because that is, in my opinion, how life remains magical and hopeful.

When we see everything as a miracle—our hands, our lungs, the warm soul of marriage or friendship, the love of a child or pet, the way in which we didn’t get hit by a car or mauled by an angry dog this morning—then that is when we get more hopeful about tomorrow, and the day after that.

Because if one miracle has happened for us, then another one is just around the corner.

Have a very blessed Thanksgiving, and as always, please remember to take care of yourself and your dreams,

Michael

Michael Priebe is a writer and personal development coach who has studied psychology, literature, and print journalism. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he graduated with honors. and over the years he has used both fiction and nonfiction formats to write about health, sports, professional life, politics, relationships, and spiritual issues. He puts out a variety of spiritually inspiring content at The Lovely Grind, and he blogs about his life at www.michaelpriebewriter.com. He invites you to reach out to him on Facebook and Twitter.

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