Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Upside-Down, Staring at the Sky

Lambs In His Arms has existed online for only four months, but it has been growing in my head and heart for much longer than that. About a year ago, I actually typed out a few posts for my imaginary blog. This entry was originally written October 2, 2007.

This is what God the LORD says—
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:

"I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand. ...”

Isaiah 43:5-6a

I did two things today that I have not done for a long time. Not wanting to waste a beautiful fall day, I took the boys out in the double stroller, and afterwards we went to the playground near our apartment. While Donny busies himself burying his toy dump truck in the wood chips and Hayden naps in the stroller, I sometimes hang off the monkey bars, but never for too long. Ever self-conscious, I am always afraid that some neighbor is going to get upset that an adult is using the playground equipment that is tatooed with "Ages 5-12" stickers. While this fear is probably completely unfounded, since few of the local parents even watch their own five to twelve year olds, I can’t seem to get the idea out of my head that all eyes are upon me whenever I dare to do anything out of the ordinary.

But today, instead of just holding onto a bar and swinging, I folded my legs over the top of a ladder, leaned back, and let go: I was upside-down. Children do this daily, my husband has made a hobby and career out of gymnastics, but for me, being upside-down is usually quite unsettling. For a brief moment, though, it was fun. My head was just inches off the ground; I knew I wasn’t going to get hurt, and I could just enjoy the unusual perspective.

As I type this out, I realize how ridiculous it sounds. Letting go of fear takes many forms, and for me, I had to take this small step of hanging upside down to get over my fear of being uncomfortable, undignified, and unsettled. The moment was over quickly, I managed to dismount without injuring myself, and no nosy neighbors walked by laughing and pointing. In fact, Donny was so busy with his truck that even he did not seem to notice his mother's playground antics. It’s funny how those of us who are prone to introspection can have these deep and significant moments that go completely undetected by others around us.

As I reflect today's event (insignificant though it may seem), I wonder, are there areas of my life that I am gripping too tightly, afraid to let go and let God give me a new perspective? Is fear of possible pain preventing me from experiencing the adventure He has planned for me? Don has told me several times that he wants me to experience gymnastics or amusement parks rides so that I get used to the feeling, and then it will no longer be a big deal. As with anything, practice makes perfect. If I spend more time being physically upside-down, maybe I can avoid the uncomfortable rush of blood to my head and crazy sense of exhilaration when I let go. And spiritually, I could use some practice at letting go of whatever I am leaning on, surrendering myself to the loving hand of an Almighty God. Who knows what sights I will see when I let Him show me the world from His perspective?

And speaking of sights, the other highlight of the playground trip happened when I glanced up at the sunny sky and was surprised to see a distinct white semicircle. I pointed it out to Donny, asking, “What’s that?!” Of course, he excitedly replied, “The moon!” I studied the clear outline framed against the cobalt blue sky, wisps of white cloud blowing past, and realized: It has been a long time since I really looked at the sky.

I spend most of my time indoors, and when I am out, I am often too busy getting exercise or getting to an appointment or chasing children to notice what is above me. The loss is my own, because for me, the sky has always been such a powerful reminder of the amazing splendor of God. I do not understand how anyone could gaze up into the heavens, with the countless stars and ever-changing clouds and a sun that is so bright we cannot even look at it directly, and say that there is no God. The vastness of the sky tells me in no uncertain terms that I am tiny, insignificant, a mere speck in an unfathomable universe. And yet, the Creator of all this beauty loves ME. He made all this just so that you and I would know that He is God.

So I am going to think about how I can let go of my fears as I cling to my Lord. I must trust that He is holding my hand through every silly worry and every exaggerated experience. And next time I step out the door - whether it is a sunny day or a starry night - I am going to take a few minutes to look up to the sky. If one element of the Creation is this breath-taking, how much more awesome is the Creator Himself!

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