I Will Love You Louder

 

“Whom you chose to listen to, will determine the outcome of your life.” Daniel Messina, Crossroads Fellowship – Raleigh, NC

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. – Martin Luther King Jr.

 2016 was a tough year. Finally! The election was over, and I could get back to normal. I was so looking to 2017. While I was looking forward, God must have been chuckling. No, there are always still miles to go and tears to cry.  More reasons to seek Him, not my will.

That’s how life always happens. The wave of one crisis finally crests, and you’re treading water, ever so carefully, gratefully , hoping to quietly just float back to shore. And then you see it–the next wave. It’s so much bigger.

Lately the din of the news of the world coupled with the roar of life in my own kitchen has been making my head spin. I feel like it will explode on some days. Anxiety. Depression. Painful situations. Too many people I know are suffering. Is anyone in control up there in the tower? I’ve too many incoming planes and they’re all arriving unscheduled in my backyard from C and C Airways (Crisis and Confusion) and clearly their communication system is down. Help! I don’t know what to do! Hello? Is anyone listening?

So here we are. We’re hours away from a new POTUS and frankly, the world still seems as screwed up as it was before the election. The fault lines of our souls keep on cracking and dividing us further apart. The news media hurls the bad news fly balls faster than we can catch them. Apparently, mean tweets and anger and division swell ratings. Who knew?   Sheesh, if all I ever did was watch the news, and fall victim to every voice with an agenda, I’d swear our cities were burning down, we were in the middle of epic race wars, the planet is heating up to lethal temperatures, and mankind is continuously eliminating one another in the quest to dominate and be right—be it geography or the infinite, ever-expanding digital land mass known as social media.

But a weird thing happens when I walk away. I go outside and I see and breathe in sunshine. Or rain.   Or even snow. Regardless, it is a breath of fresh air. I put geographical distance and measured time between my eyes and the constant tap,tap,tapping of text messages on screens and BREAKING NEWS flashes. You see I’m learning, that if any of us are going to mentally survive going forward, you’re going to have to change the messages you listen to, in order to quiet your mind, to be a better, kinder, gentler person yourself.

Or you could just stay angry all the time. Or sad. Or feel hopeless. Or disgusted. Or whatever negative default state of disrepair you’ve learned is a safe fallback. Because as long as it’s the President’s fault (current, past, or incoming) or Congress or those on the other side of whatever viewpoints or opinions or theologies we currently hold sacrosanct, then guess what? We’re all absolved of any responsibility for fixing our own lives. Well—isn’t that convenient?!

Now before I get mean tweets of disagreement, let me say something. Disagreement does not equal disrespect for personhood or viewpoint. Though lately, many of us from the top to the bottom seem to have forgotten that. But you know what, we don’t have to engage! We don’t have to obsessively watch or listen to those voices which anger us. We don’t have to have angst anymore because others think differently then us.

In a world where uniqueness and diversity is celebrated, it seems like the last place that holds true is in the world of thought. And that’s actually where we most need to celebrate diversity. Without it, we wouldn’t have the great artists who create beauty, the scientists who solve mysteries, the doctors who find new ways to heal, the spiritual leaders who calm and inspire and teach us new ways of being.

Since the right to free speech doesn’t guarantee kind speech, we must choose what we listen to. We can’t regulate others’ tempers or temperament, only ours. I only know that if individually we become the voices of reason, kindness, gentleness and self-control, tolerance of viewpoint, and above all the blessed voice of silence because we choose to listen to others, some of the negative will be forced to retreat, to simmer down, perhaps even end.

Even if others don’t stop speaking ugly, you can still fill your head with pretty. But it’s your choice.   Who are you listening to? What are you listening to? How is it affecting your body, your mind, your soul?   Maybe it’s time to change the channel. Or go outside. Or listen to a symphony. Or read something that allows you to touch the words, feel them come to life as you turn the pages. I know! You could even get something done that you’ve been putting off! Or most of all, perhaps you need to learn how to sit alone with yourself and your thoughts. Surrender that which isn’t yours to fix. Pray for others. Make a plan. Rest. Rejuvenate.   Just be still. And know.

Changes are coming. Some will be great. Some will be terrible. Some will be made by us. Many will be made by others that are simply: out of our control.

So in light of all that? How now will you live? How will you choose?

As for me, I will resolve to speak less, listen harder.   I absolutely will be more selective on who/what I listen to. I will find ways to fast from those things that frustrate me or don’t help me grow. I will show love to those who think different, or who I disagree with.

 In the silent art of learning how to listen better, I will find I love you more. I will stop trying to change you. Perhaps you will grant me the same kindness?

In the gentle moments where my soul is quiet, I see I am able to love you. Even though we are different.   I will love you—louder.  Because it’s the only voice that makes sense to me.  It’s the only voice that will carry us all home safely.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

STRESSED OUT: The Gift of What Just Might Kill Us

clara-bow

Clara Bow — Silent Film and Talkies Star –1920s — She was the inspiration for Betty Boop.  She also suffered with mental health issues due to stress.

 

Stress. We all carry it. Like interest on a credit card, it compounds. Quickly.

We are living in extreme days.  Our country is polarized, and some of us, perhaps many of us feel like we are hanging on by a thread.

Our daily responsibilities exceed the available time to accomplish them. I’m talking only about the things on our “MUST DO” list. Forget totally about our “HOPE TO DO” and “WANT TO DO” list.

Then, predictably so, like a promise that arrives early, a CRISIS OF EPIC PROPORTIONS lands in your lap exactly as your energy levels drop below zero. Couple this with your due date for everything urgent was expected yesterday and before, and your list of what you have to post pone due to emergency, is stretched to indefinite, if not infinity and beyond.   Generally, this will happen when you don’t have the following to cope:

  • money to pay for it
  • time to absorb it
  • energy/resources to fix it

Everything from demanding jobs, to family crisis, to health crisis, to a death in the family, or news that feels like a “sentence” feel like they are going to pull us under the waves.  Up to now we were at least managing our overwhelm, however precariously, as we bobbed between the waves of life’s stormy seas.

Here’s the hardest truth of our lives: Sometimes it sucks. I mean that literally. The challenge of just getting to the next day seems near impossible, because TODAY feels like it is vacuuming every last ounce of our energy, time, and resources to simply deal.

We can’t take ONE. MORE. THING. And then…..

BOOM!

The unthinkable. The unimaginable. The unbearable.

Like it or not. It’s here. How now will you get through it?

I’m not a doctor or scientist or even theologian who claims to know. I’m just a girl who’s been around the block a few times. And each successive lap does get harder, but……

it’s true—that which does NOT kill us, really does make us stronger.

My Christian faith has comforted my heart, and my mind knows many of God’s promises. But that never negates the reality of what is, and the pain/frustration/fear one goes through when one is on overload. The feelings are real, even if our analysis of what’s happening doesn’t agree with others’ perspectives. The truth is: We feel what we feel.

So, how to deal?

Something I learned a long time ago at church. Our wise pastor told us:

You are going to suffer in life. That you don’t get to choose.

The only thing you get to choose is HOW YOU SUFFER.

Will you waste your suffering?

Or will it be redemptive?

I have never forgotten that lesson. I mean I have in terms of application sometimes:

  • I get negative ( I whine to others.)
  • I forget to pray. I forget to be still.  (I’m SO busy!)
  • I complain. (As if stating the problem a dozen different ways will somehow change it.)
  • I avoid reality, or at least dream of it. (I think I will hide under my blankets and pet the cats and just listen to music all day. Yeah right.  )

And then: I remember another profound truth:

IT IS WHAT IT IS

 Seriously, reality always wins.

 I pause.

 I remember.

I get to choose my suffering.   I. Me. No one else.   Other people or life situations—they may overwhelm, even slay me. But I CHOOSE how I deal. Or die. Or live. That is my power. And no one and nothing can take THAT away from me! No one can take the power that I believe God has already put in me, unless I give it to them.

There’s a lot of anger out there these days. The election comes to mind. I get the disappointment and anger. I really do. But seriously, how much power are YOU going to allow someone else to have over your lives?   What changes can you make?  More importantly, WHO will you CHOOSE to be?

We don’t get to change our circumstances much of the time. The only thing available for us to change is: OUR PERSPECTIVE

Stress can BE our friend.   We can “reframe” our situation.

These things I’ve learned for sure, especially in crisis mode:

We can only solve one problem at a time. Tackle your tasks and finish them one by one. It may mean going off-line, off-grid, turning your phone off. That’s okay.   People will live without you for a few days. But you won’t live without you.

If other people can’t understand your limitations sometimes, that is their problem, not yours. Is it good to care what other’s think of us?  Sure.  But our health, our life comes first.

“No” is a complete sentence. This is a biggie, especially for women. We want to give and help so much, we can give ourselves away sometimes. But say no sometimes. Even if it’s just to practice for a real emergency. It’s so freeing. The relief that comes from knowing you don’t have to be responsible for everything just because someone thought you were the most capable to do it.

Get enough rest. No matter what. No good decision is ever decided when running on fumes.   Which brings me to: Delay big decisions until you have had at least one good night’s sleep.

Ask for help. And then don’t be ashamed. Be it tasks or an understanding ear, reach out to others. Please. Other friends don’t always know when we struggle. They are stressed too.

Daily Quiet Time. (DQT) Prayer. Meditation.   Simple solitude where you simply empty your mind of all thoughts, if only for ten minutes. This is absolutely essential if you are on overload. Practice this now. Make this your habit, so you won’t forget in emergencies.

Breathe. Just breathe. Slowly. Take it all in, understanding you don’t have all the answers. Remember? You can’t control it all.

Consciously choose to accept with grace, to the extent that you are able, what is happening now. I recently read a wonderful quote by Corrie Ten Boom:

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow
It only empties today of it’s strength.

For those of you suffering severe stress right now, I encourage you to watch this amazing TED talk by Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend. I found just taking the time, all precious 15 minutes or so, recharged me. It reminded me why we are gifted with our present. We have this beautiful opportunity to be brave as we rise to the occasion of our challenges.

You WILL suffer.

You WILL have to make a choice (even not choosing is still a choice).

Be brave.  And may you choose well.

 

 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Close your eyes. Just listen to some pop pscyhology. There. Did your demons float away if only for a few minutes?

The Crave and The Fix

One of my dearest friends in the world sent me King and Country’s  CD recently called “The Crave.”  If every other song wasn’t spectacularly amazing, this one brought it home—

It broke me

        If you’ve ever struggled with addiction or loved someone who has, then listen to this I beg you.  You’ll get it.

See I’m a strong girl.   These are the things I used to CRAVE:

  • Control
  • Stability
  • A Plan (see Control)
  • Having “it” together (family, work, my house, appearance, finances….the list goes on)

And then The Beast came to our home.  To my heart—an uninvited stranger who moved in without warning or permission—and foreclosed on my heart, and mercilessly tried to wreck my life, and that of my family.

We’re still processing and mending.  But above all I’m still believing and I’m still loving.  I’m living through something that nearly took away someone I love so much more than my own life and who all I wanted to do was :

FIX

      Surely, if I craved fixing my addict just a bit more than this person craved a fix, I’d be able to:

  • Convince them
  • Change them
  • Fix them
  • Make it all better

But I failed.  Or at least I thought I did.  Because sometimes human love isn’t enough I was so busy taking on the roles of detective, nurse, lawyer, and defensive lineman often simultaneously,   that it took me a while for me to learn it isn’t all my fault.  And it isn’t all theirs.

Addiction is two things:  A genetic predisposition and a choice.  The choice is the first time.  The addiction is all the times that come after.

I know now it won’t be me that can fix this.  Because THE FIX may be my goal, but it’s not my role.  This is something only God can do as my loved one decides to get extremely intellectually honest or in street lingo: Keepin’ it real y’all! 

“The others”–the ones what have walked this journey of one day at a time for some time now,  through shared experience, accountability, and unconditional love, will have to help my loved one pick up the pieces that I could not.

      This is what it’s like for the addict and the family:  Excruciatingly painful.  Isolating.  Really scary.  Exhausting.  Sometimes you feel judged or are misunderstood by those who haven’t ever been exposed to this.

But the suffering is also something more.  It’s redemptive.  Beauty shines brighter thru wet tears.  Appreciation for now comes when you lose so much and almost lose—well, everything.   Every other problem becomes so small.

And now I know people, too many, that have lost this battle.  People that suffer silently.  And I won’t be doing that any more.  My battlefield is becoming my mission field.

For I am not ashamed of the one I love who is getting the help they need.  I will forever be their:

  • Advocate, but not their enabler.  I will speak the truth, but in love.
  • Cheerleader, because encouragement is the seed that can blossom into confidence.
  • Prayer warrior, because the biggest battles are won on our knees, and the biggest war is fought for our hearts and mind.  If you think you don’t have an enemy bent to destroy both or either, you deceive yourself.

So devil take warning:

  • I am unmoved by you.
  • I am undeterred.
  • Above all I am not defeated—not now, not ever.

Because I have the King of kings on my side.  You have already lost.  For I have tasted The Cure .  His name is Jesus.  He is not just our Saviour, He is also our Saver and Redeemer.  He really does save the lost.  He really does comfort those who mourn and are crushed in spirit.   He does this not only because we first believed, but more importantly because He first loved us. 

Without faith, it’s not only impossible to understand this; I think it’s impossible to see the everyday miracles that God decides to bless us with.  Life is a mystery. It’s full of both joy and suffering, sometimes simultaneously.  Deserving neither, we experience both as a gift of opportunity to question everything until finally we reach the end of our limited human understanding.  That’s where we end, and God can finally begin.

       And to the families touched by addiction?  You are not alone.  You do not have to walk this journey alone.   May you find the courage to find a support group and attend meetings, find a supportive and empathetic church, and/or a close circle of true friends who get it, and may you come to believe and trust in a loving God who already has the power to heal all that ails you.    After all, we could all stand to take a hit of a drop of grace. 

Hope.  Love.   Believe.  And you shall live.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

Support possibilities for you or a loved one who suffers from addiction:

http://www.celebraterecovery.com/

http://al-anon.alateen.org/?gclid=CImZo7jw5LsCFa9lOgod2kcAkw

http://www.aa.org/

http://www.narconon.org/

http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/addiction_hijacks_brain.htm

 

       

The Big Bang Theory — According to Liz

Big Bang Psalm 8.3 and 4      Once upon a time in my life, a big crisis came.  BANG!   It was big.  How big?   Big enough to rock my world, and tilt my universe.

But you know what?  It didn’t kill me.  Though I thought it might.  It certainly had the potential to.  I thought I didn’t have the strength to go one more day.  But the next day, the sun rose again, and my feet found the floor and moved forward.

I didn’t think I could handle it.  And I was right.  In my own strength, I couldn’t.  I didn’t.  And I’m not.  But with God, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26) That’s what’s engraved in the cross around my neck, and even more it’s invisibly etched in my heart; it’s the fiber of who I am.

See when you experience your BIG BANG moment, chances are it’s going to be one of those things that makes you question everything:

  •       Why did this happen to me? Our family?  The person I love?
  •       If God is good, why didn’t He PREVENT this?  Or FIX it?
  •       Or for God’s sake, allow me (us) to AVOID it all together?

I’ll tell you why.  Because none of us are spared.  In this world, you will have troubles…..

   You know it all too well.  If you’ve suffered, you know John 16:33 by heart by now.

We don’t get out of life without our share of sorrow or suffering.   We also don’t get out of life ALIVE.   It’s true.  We have to make our peace that we are but a blip on the timeline known as eternity.  And in so accepting, making peace with the question:

Okay then, what does it all mean?  What’s the point of anything in life?

You have to find the answers.   In the midst of the worst struggle—the most aggressive cancer or disease you are sentenced to live with, the scariest nightmare realized, the worse fear come true, or the harshest experience ever endured,  you have to CHOOSE: 

       If I never get the WHY of my questions answered, then how do I incorporate this into my life without being bulldozed by it?  How can I choose my suffering so that I can thrive, not just survive?

Everybody is different.  But for me, well a little time on the carpet, the vinyl, the place where the dust bunnies frolic is the best place to start.  On my knees.  Looking up.  Reaching out.  Trusting.  Hoping.  Knowing that to be true, which I can neither see or prove:

That there is a God.  And He really is faithful, involved in this, grieved by this, moved by this, working on this behind the scenes,and loving each of us thru this in so many tangible ways:

  • The prayers of others
  • The kindness of friends and strangers
  • The peace that sometimes comes and surpasses understanding

The wisdom to know that when fear creeps in, He is bigger than all of this and returns  the moment I ask for Him to.

      I took a picture of the moon tonight.  At first glance it was just a white dot in a black background.  I shot it from multiple exposure values: aperture sizes (determines the amount of light let into the lens), and shutter speeds (how long the shutter remains open).  You know what?  Despite subtle differences, the pictures looked pretty much the same.  Dull.  Listless.

But once I opened it up in my favorite photo editing app appropriately named LightRoom, I pulled the lever labeled “Clarity” over to the right about 100% to be exact.  And voila!  Stars appeared.  Stars I didn’t even see with my naked eye when I originally took the picture.  I zoomed in on the moon to enlarge it a bit.  More detail popped out, though somewhat hazy still to my eye.   You see I am limited by the lens through which I view all this.  Not just my camera lens, but also my human optical lens.

   Life is like that.  We see our circumstances through the lens of our own understanding.  And thus we are born into a life of pain.  We sometimes don’t get to see the diamond that is being cut out of the roughness of our life.   But God, with his infinite all-seeing eye, who created the moon, the stars, the earth, all the solar systems, and the entire universe, can always see all these details that we can’t.

We feel bitter tears slip from our eyes, but He only sees stars.  It is here, He best sees into us; He looks deep into the windows of our soul, and plants a new vision.  During our trials, is where God best plants the vision of hope, endurance, peace, and someday—joy.

       Life, like photography is about perspective.  It’s about vision.  It’s also about clarity.   There’s contrast involved—we can’t know light (goodness) if we don’t have darkness (evil) to compare it with.   We see our life thru a macro lens, up close and personal.  But God sees our lives (the big picture) from a wide angle lens that makes the Gran Telescopio Canarias (it has an aperture of a whopping 409 inches!) seems like the width of a gnat.  He also can see very detail up close, as if using an electron microscope, seeing the detail of our cells not even a billionth of a meter wide.    He can see every speck of us—perfectly.  And He can see within us, what others can’t and sometimes what even we can’t see in ourselves:  Our hurts, our dreams, our fears, our desires, our hopes, our passions, our purpose, and most of all:  our potential.

Sooner or later in life you may have one of those cataclysmic events that can only be described as The Big Bang.  The rest of the world hums merrily along unaware that you nearly lost your hearing, your vision, your sanity, and quite possibly your life as this cosmic collision internally implodes in your life.

But hold fast.  Trust in a God big enough to swallow your fears and your doubts.  Through applied pressure, extreme heat, and gravitational pull, know that God is forging something, better, refined, and new.   He ordered the universe outside of you; He can certainly order, rearrange, or repair if necessary,  the micro verse within you.   Wait upon Him.     Something beautiful is being made from all this.  Trust in Him to reveal it all at exactly the right time.

BANG BANG!  Now pray!

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NIV)

“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.”   Rick Warren – “The Purpose Driven Life:  What on Earth Am I Here For?”

Poison and Wine — The Power of The Words We Speak

POISON AND WINE – By the Civil Wars

This song simply says it best of all!  Such a talented duo!

      It happened again.  That thing that hurts me to the core.  And out of this raw place in my heart, my words came tumbling out.   Sometimes our words speak love and all that is good and lovely and pure and true because it comes from the fullest part of our heart that is content and knows what it means to be loved.  These words are a sweet wine, a pleasure to taste as they slip quietly into the ether landing in the soft pillows of your ears.  Like a chain reaction, your eyes light up and meet mine and for a moment in time, we are one.

      All too true, is that sometimes out of the darkest corners of our heart, the mouth speaks.  It’s a battle as old as time itself.  It’s the words that are born in a place where loss and fear of loss is never more than a whisper away.  It’s the trigger button that provides instant recall of something so painful or so scary that when the words come, they don’t self-edit or seek the brain’s permission:  Is this a good idea to say this now?

       This is the hardest part about being gifted with humanity.  We are more than our instincts.  We are instinct plus feelings.   We deceive ourselves and try to protect our tender hearts, as if hurting the heart of another soul will spare our own.  Except that it doesn’t.  We spew our poison because our anger, our rage, our fear, our sadness, our insecurities, and any and all of our other weaknesses overtakes us.   We get lost in the moment of what we need.  We try to take control of a situation or another person because we know at our core, we actually can’t.  Still we don’t want to go down without a fight.  The poison is out of the bottle.  And it spreads like a cancer.   Once we pour it out, we can’t pull it back in.

         You know.  If you’ve ever spilled words out of the poison bottle, you know.  It’s a bitterness whose purpose is to get even with another; it’s an ill-fated,  ineffective attempt to persuade somebody else that you are right.   But in the end, it is your cup to bear, and you drink it….alone.

          It’s hard to say words of love when we hurt.  When we are afraid.   When we’ve been misunderstood or wronged.   It’s hard to walk away if you always have to have the last word.  It’s hard to stay silent in the face of injustice, inequity, or danger.

       But sometimes, the battle is not ours to fight.  That’s called letting go.  Sometimes we can hold on in life best by intentionally letting go of the need to:

  • Say it
  • Solve it
  • Change it

Inner peace is never found in our external words, but our internal thoughts.  I forget this when I speak, but it becomes pretty crystal clear when I write, work on my photography, or spend silent moments with a loving God who created me.

Poison or wine.  Which words will you choose to speak today?

Just cause I said it
It doesn’t mean that I meant it
People say crazy things
Just cause I said it
Don’t mean that I mean it
Just cause you heard it… Adele – “Rumour Has It”

….For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  Matthew 12:34

Waves of Heat, Waves of Water

If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?  Stephen Wright

It’s been a really hot week!  For three straight days, we local Raleigh folks have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with wicked heat, with temperatures ranging from 105° to 107° F.    It’s strange how life can exist uncomfortably, but is still bearable in the 90° range, even high 90°s, but cross the 100° thresh hold and it feels like the flames of hell itself are lapping at your heels!

The pavement starts melting your flip flops.  When you stand outside, you feel the heaviness of your heart as it works extra hard to pump the blood that suddenly pools inside of it.  The journey north to the brain is a steep climb indeed.   Upon stepping outside from any indoor facility, you are immediately aware of the intense hot air.  It truly feels like you are standing behind the backdraft of a fire.

The sweat process starts immediately.  After more than a few moments, your clothes are wet and sticking uncomfortably to you.  Loading up a car with supplies, or working seems intense.  The words, “I feel like I might pass out” lie in wait, just under the surface of your parched tongue.    In less than 48 hours, whatever green was in your yard has quickly faded to a dull dessert sand color.   You don’t go anywhere without a water bottle.

Heat waves start as high pressure forms in the middle layers of the atmosphere.  The air grows heavy as the high pressure has a sinking effect and it stays and hovers above you.  You can literally feel the denseness of the air, as if you were a bug trapped in a jar, and someone just put the lid on it.

The extreme heat also can make a person feel disoriented, dizzy, nauseous, fatigued, and like their heart is racing.    They are at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke if the body is not cooled quickly, rehydrated, and electrolyte balances restored.  Gatorade is essential for anyone who has been physically active in these temperatures.

I find in this heat, I lose all ambition; I suddenly feel like a lazy person.  I truly don’t want to do anything.  I find it disturbing that I seem to fester in this state of suspended motivation as this totally contradicts the normal routine of being busy from sunup to sundown.

I alternate pacing upstairs with pacing downstairs, as both our air conditioner units struggle to adequately cool our home, and frying the brains of we who live here.  Multiple times during the day, they seize up and have to be turned off, as the condensers that are frozen up have to slowly unfreeze in order to slowly come back online.  Do not ask me how an electrical part freezes over 100 degrees, I don’t know.  All I can say is it must be an evil form of magic.

Our lives mirror the weather too.  The heat gets turned up; multiple crises always happen at once and demand attention now.  Up go the degrees, and down comes the pressure.   The atmospheric pressure weighs heavy above us.  Down, down, down it comes, threatening to suck up the last of our oxygen.  I can’t breathe you think when it all becomes too much.  Is it anxiety or am I dying?  Am I clear enough to know the difference?

Our mental and spiritual electrolytes are depleted.  We’re confused, disoriented, and it’s hard to know what the right decision at this moment in time is.  Crisis by crisis, the choices are too vast to contemplate, much less choose correctly.    It can feel as if one is drowning in a sea of conflict:  relationships, financial concerns, health issues, aging parents, aging bodies, children who worry us.

Yes, the proverbial storms of life.  We are the ships called to navigate these stormy seas without being given a say so as to whether we wish to embark upon this dangerous journey.  Ready or not, you’ve already set sail.   In the pit of your soul, you already know, it’s just not enough to survive.  For you hear that quiet voice, the weight above, that says, you must be more; you are to be a beacon for others in distress.

I can’t you think.  I’m not prepared.  Shouldn’t I save myself first, in order to save others?  This wave of heat is too much for me; it’s either going to drown me or consume me.

Ah, but it won’t, my child.  Though you left the home port of comfortable long ago, and were forced to set sail without benefit of a life jacket, or even access to a compass, you have strength within you.  It is not of your making; but it is there.   You are almost temporarily paralyzed when you see all the waves converge until finally the Big Kahuna towers over you.  Then you remember:

I am not alone.

     Your captain is and always was with you.  You remember now.  You quit flinching and look through the storm, straight into the eye itself.  Your hands grip the wheel tighter.   You’ve journeyed this far.  You know what to do.  Decision by decision, the answer is already within you.  Your destination may seem a little hazy, and the boat may not arrive totally intact, but you will.

I was born in a storm.  I’ve experienced firsthand the fury and damage of both a hurricane and a tornado.  I’ve been forced to seek shelter when tubing on a river and the lightening sizzled so close; you could see and feel the hairs on your arms rise.  I’ve witnessed beauty and miracles in storms that others may not believe, but I do—I was there.

Our lives are indeed the Perfect Storm:  There are the fires of our passions that either propel or destroy us, as well as the air we breathe—these thoughts we carry and words we speak.  Oh and the water—all the water we spill in tears of gentle rain or epic floods that are always lurking just below the surface of our days of sunshine and tranquility.   Most of all, is the wind called change, our only constant; it carries us forward in our limited universe, until we finally go home.

Travel safely; God speed.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:2