life like a tilt-a-whirl

Question: What do you see when you look at this image? Do you see criss-crossy lines and confusion, mixed in with dizzying swirls and spirals? Or do you see the center, the focal point...the main thing. I only ask because - if I'm honest - I'm currently in an incredible state of dizzying frustration, but I think I'm starting to work out some perspective.

First off, sincerest apologies, as I said at the beginning of the year that I'd write every Friday. Nonsense and poppycock. Clearly, I haven't stuck to that commitment and truth be told, I knew deep down inside I wouldn't. I knew that if I told myself I'd write every Friday that I'd at least write twice a month (which is still better than I did last year). Horrible, the tricks we play with ourselves sometimes. But true, nonetheless.

Since my last post, not a ton has happened except for the fact that I've been to four doctors and - fast-forwarding through all the boring minutiae - am now diagnosed with benign positional vertigo. In two words, it sucks. Although seemingly minor and inconsequential, I basically feel like I'm on a tilt-a-whirl in even the smallest of tasks, except for the fact that this ain't Disneyland, nor is it even close to fun. (Something about some particles in my ear canals throwing off my balance due to a virus or whatever.)

At this very moment, I am missing out on one of the most fun and exhilarating and satisfying parts of my job, our winter camp, where over 1,200 high school students and volunteer leaders are gathered together worshiping Jesus and learning about how all they'll ever need is accessible to them because of who He is. Amazing. And here I was today, trying to find joy and pleasure in the simplest of things like reading and watching B-list movies, all while drinking blue Gatorade, eating chicken noodle soup, and trying to learn how to finger-knit a beanie for my husband. (Spoiler alert! The hat came out looking like an epic fail of a fuzzy fruit bowl.)

The point in me writing this isn't to elicit pity or even compassion, for that matter. The point in me writing is to share a perspective that I think has helped make my frustration bit more bearable. This morning I read Psalm 23, and I've read this Psalm a million times before, but there's something about being forced to rest, forced to stop, to halt, to do nothing, that brings a fresh and crisp perspective to the psalmist's words. All of a sudden, at a moment when I thought I would've needed more time to complete tasks or more strength to make it through a fast-paced weekend I read:

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
At a time when I very well could've been complaining about not having enough sleep, or when I would've been too anxious to acknowledge His goodness or give gratitude, I see these words:
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
And then, at the very end, I'm reminded that whether I'm running around wildly preparing for a ministry event, or doing the dishes or laundry, or operating from my flesh more than the fruit of the Spirit and am unkind, unloving, impatient, or lacking joy - even if I'm in my pajamas knitting really ugly slouchy hats for three hours out of a day:
Surely Your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me all the days of my life...

There's been something about my forced rest, then, that has been - in and of itself - a force. And I wonder how many times I've seen hardship and discomfort like that. How many times have I chosen to see the unfair, uncool, unwanted "tilt-a-whirl" moments in my life as opportunities to recall truth in a way I've never been able to before, mainly because I'd never been able to really relate. It's kind of like not knowing how much you miss the taste of cool water until you're dehydrated in the middle of a desert. I never know how "with me" He really is until I am forced to be alone by myself, with nothing or no one else to rely on for distraction or entertainment - just Him. I never realize jus how much He's provided for me until the basics are stripped away. And I never realize just how good He is until I'm caught in the middle of something bad, something I can't control at all, and somehow make it on the other side just fine.
I can't wait to hear all the stories from camp. I'm constantly refreshing my Twitter and Instagram feeds so I can feel like I'm there. I've already cried tears, and pouted a bit, and wondered a million times what it would've been like to be with my friends and students. But, honestly, I'm also enjoying being here in the moment. I'm enjoying diving more deeply into the transforming power and grace, and the unfailing, overwhelming, love that is offered to me regardless of whether I'm at a camp of 1,200, or in a bed of one. The message is the same: all we'll ever need is accessible to us because of who He is.

Life is like a tilt-a-whirl sometimes. Our relationships can get crazy and stressful at a drop of a dime; our jobs can send us spinning if we let them; our own insecurities and shortcomings and brokenness produce jerks and jolts that are uncomfortable and messy for more than just ourselves. But instead of getting too dizzy, instead of focusing on the circumstances, I wonder how much more joy and peace we'd experience if we'd just put our hands up in a gesture of surrender, keep our eyes on the Center, the Good Shepherd who loves us with an unfailing love, and know that no matter what happens...
...He's all we'll ever need.


Ashlee EilandComment