Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just. Stay. Alive.

I received a voice message today that caused a favorite memory of mine to come flooding in...

It was eight years ago. I was in college, and it was the summer before my senior year. I was interning in a church in central Illinois, and somehow amid the hustle and bustle (of soy beans and corn) I became good friends with Cindy. That summer we had good times, Vanilla Coke and bike riding in the cometary, and swimming...But there is one day that has always been a particularly favorite memory- The All Church Canoe Trip... Oh, I know some of you may be rolling your eyes, but this was a good time. Cindy and I were equipped with various items needed for a big day down the "BIG" River. (We were probably in either central Indiana or Illinois- I don't know, but they are KNOWN for their, oh whatever)

The beginning of the day was smooth sailing. Cindy and I were experts with the paddling, and we sailed along the river banks, wind in our hair, sun on our back. Funny thing about canoeing, you never know when you might tip. One section of the mammoth river caused us a bit more problems than the other. We decided that the best solution, since we were already out of the canoe, was to stay out of it and swim along side it until we made it to safety. Good plan right? Well, we initially thought so. But, as we swam along, the water kept rising. We were in a critical moment in our journey, panic was actually starting to set in, when Cindy turned back and looked at me and with all seriousness said, "Listen, whatever happens, just stay alive."

Almost immediately after she said that we broke into laughing as Cindy actually noticed she could stand up and touch the bottom of the river (Stream? Brook?). Was the water rising? Well, yeah. It had been about 2 1/2 -3 feet deep previously, and at that moment it might have risen to four. The whole time we were swimming and swimming and pulling the canoe along, we could have been walking. What seemed like a deep, no way out situation, was really all in our minds. The reality of the situation was not nearly as bleak as our minds made it out to be. She was, of course, joking when she told me to stay alive, but aren't there times when we are in the middle of a situation ALL we can manage to do is Stay Alive.

Doesn't it seem that in those "Just stay alive!" moments we forget the scenery, forget all together the beauty in what surround us, and ONLY focus on that we think might cause us to sink and then drown?

There are phrases that run through my mind when I'm in these situations, worrying incesently about, well everything.
"Don't count your chickens before they hatch."
"Don't borrow trouble."
"Just chill."
"You're gonna get an ulcer if you don't stop."- That's a recent favorite that I've heard actually from numerous individuals, ranging from close family to friends.

You see, I'm very good at coming up with "What if?" situations. Actually I'm an expert. It's one of my many talents. Very rarely, though do the what if situations that my wild imagination creates, come true. "What if... I get stuck in my spiral staircase trapped between the railing and the chair and there is no one around to hear my cry for help and my door is locked and I don't have my phone on me???" ( Ok, that actually did happen.)

But...what if after all is said and done there is only peace? What if after the rain stops and the thunder rolls on by there is only quiet? What if actually, in the middle of it all, I stopped and stood still and listened to the one consistent thing I know to ALWAYS be true. "At the end of the day..."

...I am never alone.

Oh, I know that physically I may be alone. I enjoy my quiet space (ask people out here in Charlotte, they know). There are days when I just need to shut myself away and restore my mind to peace. But completely alone? No.

There is always Someone with me. Always. What's even crazier, this particular Someone ALWAYS with me, is always willing to carry my burdens, my bags, my yoke (like oxen, not eggs) and - He's willing to carry me. Who is this Someone? A Shurpa? Nope. If you know me, you already know who it is. And if you aren't sure, or you want to know, you can ask me. I'll tell you.

I actually have said recently, at several points, "I don't know what to do. I don't know how to make this noise in my head STOP." But, I do. That Someone with me is the one who can actually quiet the noise.

And I have realized that while Mary Kay skin care products ARE good for the skin, but if I'm always walking around with my forehead crinkled, there's only so much that can be done. And while they may work on the outside, they really don't do much for the soul.

Jesus, however, will.

1 comment:

Tina said...

I have never heard your canoe story before. I loved it. Made me laugh.