So often our lives are filled with loving on others. Making sure everyone has what they need and that boo boos are taken care of even down to putting the little smiley face on the band aids. We ensure that cow licks are suppressed, sunscreen is applied, noses are wiped, kids are taxied and dinner is balanced...somewhat.
We carry baby bags, ball bags, beach bags, and toddlers while juggling full time jobs and sometimes caring for aging parents. We want to go above and beyond to make sure our loved ones know what they mean to us, that each day they are in our lives is a gift. We smile and try to be dependable and supportive. We do this no matter the storms we are facing currently or the ones we are preparing for.
Sometimes, lurking under the surface, there is a predator of emotional pain who is hunting our joy. Other times there is a storm churning off shore that continues to build in intensity. Where will it make landfall and when?
Realistically, amidst the beauty of the ocean, coral reef, sweet salt air breezes, and bright colored fish there are predators. In this case, we will see predators of our joy. They are disappointments, scars that run deep, and expectations that didn't get met. There are things we carry that we don't want to face, confusion, and hard memories that tend to chase our happiness under the stress of life.
All of this lurks just below the surface of the smile in the darker parts of our hearts, similar to a shark who is waiting for the right time to feed. So quiet and stealth like, often going after its prey in the weaker moments. Other times, the predator is like a hurricane. A massive storm that causes widespread damage through multiple facets even though it was tracked, traced, researched, and predicted.
These stressors make their way up the coast line with phenomenal speed and power. Sometimes they dissipate and turn from the shore and we escape damage. Other times they wreak havoc on what once was a beautiful sanctuary of beach filled with laughter and beach balls.
We continue to go on about our "busyness" until the fin is spotted or the storm surge is reported. The next thing we know the eye of the storm is upon us. As the threat is spotted, a cascade of fear and anxiety take over and we slip into a fight or flight type of response.
Before we know it the "I've got it" of our lives turns into I'm drowning in a sea of hurt and uncertainty. Does the lifeguard see us? Will the aid will come to our rescue?
The organized, calm, collected, almost tide like rhythm of life has been disrupted. The only focus we have is on fighting back as the fear and the past are coming after us. In this fight against our previous struggles we sometimes injure those who are trying to help save us.
At times we can see the danger approaching. We scan the surface trying to be vigilant. We desire to protect our loved ones and remain one step ahead of disaster. We try to learn our triggers and we attempt to avoid them.
Other times, the predator attacks like a great white from the depths below and without warning. Before you know it, you are in deep pain without the understanding of where it came from and how it was so sudden. Often, in these moments, we fight back.
We fight with our pain, our disappointments, and the wrongs we've felt. We fight with the unwanted diagnoses. We fight with the grief when loved ones are called home “too soon.” We fight with the sting of rejection and with the ashes that are left from the dreams we watched burn.
After we escape those extreme moments in the jaws of panic, or we break free from the strong currents pulling us under, when we take that first gasp of air after tumbling under the pressure of wave after wave, when the damaging flood water finally starts to recede, when the winds die, we then realize just how much we hurt and we try to find safety.
We struggle to reach the shore - to put our feet on solid ground. We search for the firm foundation we once knew.
Along with fighting that type of emotional storm our desire to be loved becomes so very evident. We have a need to be cherished and appreciated.
We have hope there is a lifeguard that can stop the bleeding. That there is one that can tell our heart to beat again. That there is one who can breathe life giving words back into us. That there is one who will wipe away the tears and remind us that not one was ever wasted.
We hope the willing hearts of the disaster relief team are able to come. You see, the storm was out of our control. We become lost and in need for a kind heart to give us direction and let us know we aren’t alone. Will they walk through the rebuild with us? We simply pray the damage is not too bad.
The beauty in this sea of life, the beauty in the midst of the storm, is that there is a lifeguard in each one of us. If we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, we are able to be the human hands that can extend rescue for someone who is drowning, for the Lord gives us our strength.
We are able to help scan the surface and prevent further attacks. When someone gets out too deep or when they need reminders that the flood waters will recede and that the home can be rebuilt - we can be that voice.
We are equipped to bandage up wounds and to hold pressure in attempts to stop the bleeding. We are equipped to step in and make a difference. We are equipped…
How so you may ask?
Through the life saving device called love, through the bandages of grace and forgiveness. Through the stitches of mercy and through the example we were given in Jesus Christ who taught love can heal what hurt divides if we put others before ourselves.
Extend a hand the next time you see someone struggling in the depths. When you are strong help pull them to shore.
We can work together to protect one another, nurse wounds, take meals, and hammer nails ....or…. we can remain on the safety of the shore. We can shout instructions while we stand by and watch, refusing to get our feet wet. We can tell people how to rebuild after the storm or we can GO....we can go and rebuild WITH them.
I think our example is clear....Let's be Jesus to others in their time of weakness. Let us not devour and be predators of joy but, extend a lifesaving gift to the one in need. Let us be His hands and feet!!!
You never know when you might be swimming in shark infested waters... You never know when the storm may be headed your way…
Thank you for your word. Thank you for the verses that remind us you work all things together for good. Help us to see the strength that can be provided in tough times as we learn to trust you. We know you catch our tears and we know you never leave us. Thank you.
Father, be our lifeguard when the waves overcome us. When the sharks swarm, help us to see your hand and give us courage to grab onto you. When the storm is off shore, give us reminders of your presence. Help us to come to you in prayer and put our faith over fear. Keep our eyes above the waves. Help communities join together in preparation and overcome united rather than separate.
Dear God, if we have injured others amidst our hurts please help us to seek forgiveness and the humility to admit our wrong. Let us be thankful for the ones who dove into dangerous waters in attempts to guide us to safety. Please bless them Lord. Forgive our tendency to lash out in pain and help us to be more like you.
In our seas and storms of life, please give us the ability to love others through their hurts and to point them back to the true rescue of your love, grace, and mercy. We love you.