By Tony Marciano
They say the journey of many miles begins with the first step. Mine began on June 26, 2019.
Just a few weeks before, I was reading in the book of Exodus how the children of Israel were taunting the Egyptians who had drowned when God allowed the waters of the Red Sea to recede after they walked across it on dry land.
As I read these Scripture verses, I became concerned. How long would it be before the children of Israel complained? It was the next verse where they were upset about the bitter water. They were mad at Moses for taking them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness.
That verse took me to a Ted Talk by Shawn Achor. He said to rewire my brain for happiness, I had to journal three things I am grateful for, journal one positive experience and do one random act of kindness for 21 consecutive days. I shared that idea with the Charlotte Rescue Mission staff that June day. I think some of them thought I was crazy.
Fast forward and it is November. I shared an update of my journey in a staff team meeting. I had not missed a day since June. What changed in my life was: 1) I renewed my driver’s license two months early; 2) I registered for a welding class at CPCC; 3) I signed up to volunteer at a classic car auto shop, 4) I joined the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
For years, I had asked God how do I make Philippians 4:8 part of my life. I tend to see the glass as half empty. I’ve been a worrier since I can remember. My prayer was, “God, how can you rewire my brain so I look at life through the eyes of this verse which says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
Saturday, April 18 was the 300th consecutive day of journaling. Little did anyone know COVID-19 would turn the world upside-down. Focusing on this verse in a tangible way has given me peace while I stand in a hurricane. No, I don’t feel as though I’m in 120-mph winds. Neither do I feel as though I am standing calmly in the eye of the storm. I feel as though the winds are blowing at 30 mph, but they are not knocking me over. Each day God calls me to put one foot in front of the other. COVID-19 will force me to face unchartered waters that were never taught in any business school in the world.
I have learned to be content. My welding class has been canceled due to COVID-19. I’ve only been to the classic car shop once since the pandemic. My US Coast Guard Auxiliary training has been virtual. In spite of how things turned out, I’m reminded to focus on what is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. I’m told to think about those things.
This is the link I mentioned. https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work
It’s never too late to join me on this journey of rewiring your brain. Here is what I need you to do:
• Journal three things you are grateful for.
• Journal one positive experience.
• Do one random act of kindness.
I’ll be back soon. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the president/CEO of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. He is available to speak to your group. Go to www.charlotterescuemission.org and go to contact us. Just ask for Pam.