The Eye of the Storm

One of my passions is natural disasters.

While my studies mostly focused on the humanitarian efforts of post-disaster response, I always found the natural disasters themselves to be very fascinating.

I love learning about the awe-inspiring power that they display; how regardless of our innovations and technology, wind and water will forever have the upper hand.

Because of this passion, I would jump at the chance to ride in one of those airplanes that fly straight into the eye of a hurricane.

Call me crazy, but I think that would be awesome!

The eye of a hurricane is at the very center of the storm and believe it or not, is the calmest part of the storm. “Skies are often clear above the eye and winds are relatively light. The eye is calm because the now strong surface winds that converge towards the center never actually reach it” (Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois).

That’s where I want to be!

In the eye of the storm.

We go through a lot of storms in our lives though, don’t we?

Sometimes we find ourselves fighting through the fiercest winds and waves, unsure of how we’ll ever find our way out when our present circumstances restrict our ability to see or feel.

One storm in particular that always stands out in my mind was in between my sophomore and junior year of college.

I had survived freshman and sophomore year…barely, and was now anticipating the approaching fall semester of my junior year and was absolutely dreading it.

I couldn’t even tell you why, but all I knew was that I just couldn’t go back there.

There was so much to do; the pressures of performance, acceptance, and achievement weighed heavily on my mind and then of course the looming terrors of failure and loneliness nipped at my heels.

Sophomore year had started me off in the nurse’s office only weeks into the school year. I had managed to make myself physically sick due to stress, anxiety, and depression.

It was then that I knew something was wrong, but through the remainder of that school year I couldn’t manage to find my way out of this particular storm.

I tried to hold onto things of the past; staying huddled in the memories of better times.

When that didn’t work, I tried to hurry things along and force life stages to happen sooner than they should in hopes of changing my presently painful circumstances.

Let me just tell you now, this does not work.

In fact, it only made matters worse.

When we are in the storms of life, we often try to do one of two things. We either try to move backwards and relive happier times or we hurry forwards, attempting to outrun the storm.

Yet, just like a hurricane, behind us and in front of us the torrents rage and the winds howl, but stillness can also be found.

When we move with the storm and position ourselves in the very center of God’s love and grace, we find blue skies and calmed winds.

We find ourselves in the eye of the storm.

Even though all around us the storm still rages; trees snap, houses tumble, relationships are broken, and opportunities are lost; even with all the destruction and heartache rushing around us, if we remain firmly planted in the center of God’s love and grace, we will experience internal respite and peace.

Many of the fears we experience in the stormy seasons of life boil down to one thing:

Proving our worth.

I overwhelmed myself with activities my freshman and sophomore year because I wanted to prove that I was capable.

I sought relationships because I wanted to prove that I was desirable.

I pursued God because I wanted to prove that I was a good Christian.

I feared failure because that proved that I wasn’t enough.

I feared loneliness because that proved I was lacking.

We are constantly trying to prove ourselves.

However, when we strategically place ourselves in the center of God’s will; in the very eye of the storm, we don’t have to prove ourselves, for it is in Him that we live and move and have our being.  – Acts 17:28

If this is true and if we full-heartedly believe this, we will begin to realize that we have nothing to prove because it is not for ourselves that we live, but rather for Christ (Philippians 1:21).

If our lives are for Christ, then we are not tasked with the responsibility of proving ourselves but rather  with proving Christ and His worth, which He has already done.

He proved Himself. He proved to the world His power, sovereignty, and authority over all things while on that cross.

When we position ourselves in the center of the storm, acknowledging that God and His purpose are in all things; when we stay in step with Him and remember that it is by Him, through Him, and for Him that we press forward, we will soon understand that we have nothing to prove because the One we live for has already done just that.

He proved Himself on that cross so that we wouldn’t have to prove our worth, for our worth lies at the very foot of that cross.

We have nothing to prove, therefore we have nothing to fear while in the eye of the storm.

 

When God Turns Your Period Into a Semicolon

Like most people, I would assume, I often look back on my teenage years with a cringe.

So. Many. Phases.

And weird ones to say the least.

I had that rap phase that we all go through (don’t try to deny it, we’ve all been there), the ‘way too many Silly Bandz’ phase, the tomboy phase, the ‘too much makeup’ phase, etc.

One of my favorites though was my beanie phase. I wore beanies all the time and while anyone who knows me now wouldn’t actually believe that, I did.

That phase was brought up recently by a good friend who mentioned that this was his first memory of me – wearing a beanie. This made me laugh as I rolled my eyes and tried to hide my embarrassment. Even though it’s funny, don’t we all sometimes wish those embarrassing phases (and any memory of them for that matter) would just stay tucked away in the past?

We place periods at the end of all those teenage phases and hope to God that we’ve heard the last of them but somehow they always seem to get brought back up.

On a more serious note, do you ever feel like that happens with the hurtful, pain-ridden, cringe-worthy times in your past? Perhaps that big ‘why?’ that resurfaces in your memories every now and then –

Why didn’t this happen?

Why did that happen?

Why couldn’t it have gone the way I wanted it to?

Perhaps those mistakes of the past and the slipups that we wish we could forget but somehow seem to reappear in our lives.

Maybe it’s that big ‘what if?’ in your life –

the ‘what if’ relationship that got away;

the ‘what if’ opportunity that you let slip through your fingers; or

the ‘what if’ word that you didn’t realize at the time would be the last word you would ever speak to that loved one who passed away too soon.

Why does the hurt always resurface?

We ended that sentence in our lives with a firm period in hopes that we would never have to deal with it again but have discovered that God removed the period and replaced it with a semicolon.

Now, for those of you who struggle with semicolons (even English nerds like myself do at times, so no worries), a semicolon is what leads into a ‘second thought’ of an already complete sentence.

A semicolon joins two clauses that could, on their own, stand as complete sentences in order to demonstrate the relationship between the two.

After spending several hours contemplating where I wanted this blog to go and praying that God would direct my search, I decided on the story of Moses.

His cringe-worthy past of having lived a life of ease and plenty while his people were tortured and enslaved under the very hand of the man he called father was a memory I’m sure Moses wanted to forget; to place a firm period at the end of and never hear of it again.

Why else would he flee to Midian (Exodus 2:15)? He wanted to get as far away from his life in Egypt as possible and forget any and every memory of it.

Yet we find in later chapters of Exodus that God had a different plan in mind.

He removed Moses’ period at the end of that sentence in his life and replaced it with a semicolon to demonstrate the relationship between the hurt of Moses’ past and the glorious future of a renewed and redeemed people.

Sure, each could have stood independently on their own as complete sentences. Moses could have lived the rest of his days with a hurtful past and a mediocre future and God certainly could have freed His people another way.

But praise God that He does not leave us to wallow in our own self-pity.

God continues on with our story.

He continued the good work He started in Moses when he was first set adrift in the Nile and completed it in the freeing of His people.

God used that which Moses wished to forget for His ultimate glory.

So think back with me to that ‘why?’ or that ‘what if?’ in your life. What is that one thing, or maybe multiple things, that makes you cringe and want to run as far away from as possible?

For me it’s the hurt and embarrassment of a bad relationship.

When it ended, I wanted nothing more than to get as far away from it as I could and never hear of it again. But several years later, I found that God had taken the period that I had so firmly placed at the end of that time in my life and replaced it with a semicolon.

I’ve been able to use that unique and painful experience to meet others right where they are at. Where I thought my situation was unique to only me, God showed me that when we struggle with something, we are never alone in that struggle because someone else is probably dealing with the same thing.

On top of that, when God lays it on our hearts to share those painful experiences, regardless of how much it hurts to relive those raw memories, it often means that someone needs to know that they are not alone; that someone else understands what they are going through.

I’ve seen God create a relationship between the pain I experienced three years ago and the healing of others who have or who are dealing with that same hurt right now.

I don’t know the ‘second thought’ God has in mind for your sentence. I don’t know what He plans to do after the semicolon, but I do know that God is good.

God grants us the opportunity for a second chance; a chance to turn a sentence that we may not like into something beautiful. A chance to see our pain play a part in the glory of His Name.

His semicolon is our redemption story.

God does not waste pain. He will use the ugly and redeem the past to make the future bright with hope. “Redemption doesn’t mean we won’t feel the pain, but it does mean that the pain will eventually have a purpose.”

He places semicolons where we have periods so that the hurt of our past is redeemed in the hope of our future, for what was intended for our harm, God intends for good…(Genesis 50:20).

 

 

*I must give credit where credit is due – thank you Brogan for the support and encouragement in my journey as an aspiring writer and also for sharing this great blog idea with me! This is one of my favorites by far!