Last summer I spent 10 days at Innsbrooke Summer Music Festival in Innsbrooke Missouri. During those 10 days I played chamber music, attended master classes and concerts, and made wonderful friends. One, in particular, very wonderful friend. My friend, Amy, was a part of my chamber group during those 10 days and we suffered through a Bartok quartet piece together. Let me tell you – that in and of itself will either make you form an unbreakable bond, or have you absolutely hating one another by the end of it. Thankfully, we ended up forming an unbreakable bond. Anyways, we often spent our free time together – eating snacks, doing yoga videos off of youtube, and talking about life. Every time we got in my car to go somewhere it seemed like the same song was playing on the Christian Radio Station I was tuned in to.
In The Eye of The Storm.
“You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn.
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm.”
It is an absolutely beautiful, uplifting song. And by the end of those 10 days Amy and I both knew every single word and would sing along with the radio. Every time I hear it, my heart bursts at the seams because it is a beautiful reminder of what truly matters in this life and a wonderful reminder of the friendship I formed this past summer.
I read an article recently that talked about turning our “I” outward and using our “eye” to see others instead of focusing on ourselves. It was out of some self-help book I read because for whatever reason those books, which are all pretty similarly, entertain me greatly – I know that a lot of what they talk about is mushy-gushy-quick-fixes for the issues we encounter in life, but I guess that reading them makes me feel like at least I’m trying to understand the world around me and trying to be a better person? Who knows…
I becomes Eye. I love words, so naturally this play on words stuck with me and has been in my brain ever since. And then I heard “In the Eye of the Storm” on the radio and it hit me…Why do I spend so much time struggling and striving and going around in circles with the issues I face in my day to day life? A lot of my hardships are my own doing – simply because I am trying to “DO” on my own without allowing others to help me. My eye has been focused on “I” instead of looking other places for help and guidance – specifically looking to GOD for help and guidance.
Independence is seen as a positive trait in our society. But, I can honestly say that I don’t believe it’s always so great. It can be a huge hindrance in forming authentic relationships and especially with forming a unique and special bond with Christ. After all, if I believe I can “do it all” on my own and be self reliant, why would I need a Savior to rush in and save me time after time?!
Throughout the past week or so, one of the best days I’ve had was a day when I reached out to others for help – It was a day when I e-mailed a friend and asked them to pray for me, a day when I got on skype with Amy and we talked, laughed, laughed some more, and then prayed with and for each other. The other days that stick out as being memorable over the past couple of weeks are the days I’ve spent surrounded by the ones I love and the ones who help me to feel loved – primarily Sundays and Wednesdays when I get to see my sweet, sweet church family. I haven’t been attending Trinity EPC for that long, but boy do they embrace me and make me feel worthy, accepted, and loved. Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings are usually the highlights of my week. I’m beginning to realize that maybe these moments feel so good and are so special because I am more “eye” oriented than “I” oriented.
Relying on people is a vital part of existence. Turning our eyes outward and leaning on and loving on others is how we make our way through life. Most importantly, turning our eyes towards God in times of struggle, triumph, joy, and pain is the ONLY way to survive this brutal, brutal world we reside in.
Recently I was feeling so, so low and worthless. I felt like a failure, like I could never and will never be “good enough” (whatever that actually means?), and as though I would never be able to survive on my own. And you know what? I was right.
Without the forgiveness and love of Christ, we can’t know our worth as human beings.
We will never be “good enough” for this world, but with the grace and mercy of Christ we are made perfect in our weaknesses and sins.
Without the death of Jesus on the cross we would be dead in our sin – unable to survive under the weight of our guilt and shame.
I was forced to grow up a lot faster than many of my peers. Emotionally and mentally, I had no choice other than to play catch up with the scenarios in my life which were rather unusual and advanced for someone at my age. Because I was forced into emotional adulthood at the age of 13, independence became a praised trait and I felt proud and confident that I could be self sufficient and take care of everything in my life on my own.
I could do it all because if I didn’t do it all, it wouldn’t get done.
I could fix everything – my own problems and the problems of everyone around me.
I could take care of myself and survive on my own – I didn’t need anyone else’s help or guidance.
And it all worked out okay…until the storm came. The storm got too fierce and too strong for me to survive on my own I was left drowning and flailing around in waters that were quickly getting to high and threatening my survival. That’s the first time in my life when I turned my I outward and raised my eyes up to God and pleaded, begged, cried out for help.
I say “the first time” because it’s not something that we do once and then we’re fixed! It’s a continual process of constantly turning our eyes outward. We have to constantly remind ourselves to place our eyes on other and share our hearts with them. We have to be constantly and consistently seeking out Christ in our lives and always keeping our eyes on Him so that when the storms of life pop up – and believe me, they WILL – we can remain steady and not be thrown and tossed around by the winds and rains that threaten to toss us under and drown us beneath their weight.
The I trap is a constant struggle for me. Day after day after day – many times each day – I find myself facing inner turmoil and when I am able to press the “pause” button and take a step back and examine the situation, 95% of the time the issue is an I issue. When I hit “reset” and turn my I outward and upward – using my eyes to seek out God and His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and guidance – I find that even though the struggle or trial might not dissipate, I am still capable of maintaining peace and joy throughout it’s midst.
I want to take a moment to say thank you to all the people in my life who have lifted me up in moments of extreme “I-ism” and who have been constant rays of love, hope, and teachers to me without even realizing the immense positive impact they have had on me, my development, and ultimately, my life.
One of my goals during 2017 is to spend more time cultivating authentic relationships where I can be vulnerable and real – places where I can run when the storms of life leave me feeling too weary and people to whom I can run when I can’t escape the I of the storm…people who will lift me up in prayer and kindly remind me of what really matters – turning my face towards the sun; towards my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and constantly keeping my eyes on Him.
“We meet no ordinary people in our lives.”
― C.S. Lewis
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
― John Lennon
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”