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May 31, 2024 123 Carol Osburn, USA
Encounter

Five Minutes that Changed My Life

‘Set a timer for five minutes and thank God for this person.’ I bet you are wondering what on earth I’m talking about. 

Sometimes, we forget to talk to God about unsettled situations regarding the people God places in our lives. Many times, I forget this. One day, by God’s grace, I chose to do something about the lack of peace in my heart. 

Several years ago, I was having a difficult time with someone in my life. I’ll skip the details. My problem was that it really bothered me. Have you ever been in a situation like this? I made a decision to talk to a priest about it and went to Confession. After he heard my confession, the priest gave me absolution and my penance. 

Guess what my penance was? If you said ‘set a timer,’ you are absolutely right! He said: “I want you to spend five minutes thanking God for this person.”

Five Minutes

Five Minutes? Yikes! Determined, I said to myself, I can do this. I left the Church and went to my car. I set my watch for five minutes, and immediately, I was stuck. Wow, this is really difficult! Slowly, I found little ways to thank God for this person. I checked my watch…ugh, only one minute passed. I continued to pray with all my heart. I want to do this! Again, I began thanking God. As the minutes slowly passed by, it became easier and easier. My five minutes still wasn’t up. Continuing with a renewed sense of determination, I found myself thanking God even for the small difficulties. Inside, my heart was leaping! Praying for this person was really working to change my heart. Why was I so consumed by these difficulties? This is really a good person.

Remembering

I often remember that day. When I face difficulties with someone, I attempt to apply what I learned from that particular penance. Do you remember the promise made when we recite the Act of Contrition? Those final words before we are absolved from our sins? “… I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, do penance, and amend my life. Amen.” 

Now, when I find myself ruminating over some difficulty I’m experiencing with someone, I stop, set a timer, and spend five minutes thanking God for them. It always astounds me how God can turn my heart around in such a short time. Jesus looked at them and said: “For human beings, this is impossible, but for God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Thank you, Jesus, for the priest who sometimes gives us a difficult but much-needed penance.
Thank you, Jesus, for your healing touch.
Thank you, Jesus, for each person You put on our paths.
Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so much! 

Five minutes was and is so little time to have received such a great reward: peace of heart.

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you!’” (John 20:21)

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Carol Osburn

Carol Osburn is a spiritual director and writer. Married for over 46 years, she and her husband live in Illinois. They have three children and nine grandchildren.

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