Highs and Lows

While I was driving home the other day from my cousins graduation party, I had one of the most blissful moments I think I’ve had in a long time. I was driving, and on my left were mostly blue skies with pink clouds scattered here and there, and to my right was the Western Sunset glowing orange and gray, emanating with the potential of a storm. I could see the rain falling in the distance as a storm was coming closer, and all I wanted to do was sit and watch as the storm drew near. I continued to drive until I found the first spot available to pull my car over so I could sit and revel in the beauty that surrounded me.

As I sat and watched only for a minute or two as the colors changed and the rain expanded from the small spot it was originally falling, I couldn’t help but feel mystified at the beauty of all that was around me. It was so amazing, and I wish a description or picture could do it justice, but it can’t. I began to think about how sometimes the world acts a lot like the way this moment felt – beautiful before wreaking havoc. Like, right when we’re in our highest moments in life and things are the most beautiful, it only takes a second for them to fall apart. That sounds a lot more negative than I mean it to, but I think it’s something we’re all used to experiencing – it’s just the highs and lows of life.

But even if they do fall apart, and even if things go downhill and we’re left at the bottom feeling numb and broken, I think it’s important to take a moment to appreciate the right now. We get so worried about the bad things that could come next that we forget to enjoy the good things are happening right in front of us. It could have been really easy for me to look into the distance and ignore the beauty of the changing colors all around me and focus only on the rain that was about to come. I could have gotten so captivated by the lightning or the impending storm that I didn’t even begin to think about how beautiful everything actually was, but I didn’t. There are times in our lives where I think we begin to get scared about being happy. It’s like we understand the concept of the ups and downs in life, and we know that the higher we get the further we fall. But I don’t believe anticipating the fall makes it any less scary, I think it just takes away from the thrill of the climb.

Just sit back, put your hands up, and enjoy the ride – every moment of it.

We steer where we stare

Do you remember learning this in driving school? You were taught that you should always keep your eyes fixed on where you want to go – whether it’s straight ahead or where you plan on turning. And if you’re driving and become too fixed on the car next to you or something off the road, that’s exactly where you’re going to go. If we teach and follow this rule so adamantly for driving, why not think about it in terms of our everyday lives?

Think about it – how often have you fixed your focus on something that you probably shouldn’t be focused on? You took your eyes off the prize, and what happened? Well, you probably didn’t get the prize. I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of things I want to accomplish in my life. I have some pretty big dreams, and I know that being intentional with my decisions and making sure that I keep my focus on the right path is the only way that I’ll make these dreams come true. But I also understand that life can get in the way, and sometimes that deer in the field next to you or that really cool car driving by can quickly take your focus off of the road right in front of you.

But we can bring our focus back just as quickly as it falters. We can avert our eyes from the distractions that surround us and stare steadfastly at where we want to go. Maybe you don’t know where you want to go, but as long as you’re moving forward and focused on moving forward, you’re going the right direction.

If we steer where we stare, are you staring at something that will help you move forward towards a life you want, or are you staring at something that will move you further from the life you want?

What’s on your scale?

This year has been a wild ride, and it’s only March. Can anybody else relate to that? I’ve had some incredibly high moments where I felt as if life couldn’t get any better, but there have also been a handful of times where I’ve felt so knocked down that I couldn’t even see the potential for a positive outcome. It’s as if 2018 has been this weird roller coaster where all of the insane lifts and thrilling drops have happened in the first five seconds and I’m left wondering what more the architects could have possibly designed for the rest of the ride.

Earlier this week, I went camping for four days with some friends from college in Clifty Falls in southern Indiana. It was cold, snowy, and crazy beautiful – an adventure I wouldn’t trade for the world. On Thursday morning we all packed our bags, cleaned up the site, and went our separate ways to enjoy our last few days of break at home before going back to school. Normally, the drive would only be a little over two hours for me to get home. However, feeling confident in knowing where I was and how to get home, I turned my GPS off after about an hour. Bad idea. That “easy two hour drive” turned into a tedious four hour drive on back-roads and weird highways and me not knowing where I was until I was twenty minutes away from home. But, on the brightside, those four hours turned into prime thinking time.

Once I figured out I was lost, I turned on some worship music in hopes that it would help me to not stress over something so small. I started talking to God (because what better time to pray than when driving and lost hours away from home?) and I said something that I didn’t expect to say, and even though I was the one who said it, it had a pretty decent effect on me. I said, “God, please help me to understand that the weight of this boulder is nothing compared to the weight of life’s pebbles.” Okay, reading this I can see how it doesn’t make a lot of sense out of context. What I was talking to God about was how the two weeks leading up to break I was kind of struggling. I may have mentioned in previous posts how they were pretty rough weeks and even though I was doing what I could to stay positive, it was a challenge. However, I’ve always been one to talk about life’s little blessings – the things that make life worth it but we so often look over because they seem so small compared to the big things. But think of these little, happy things as pebbles – small and seemingly insignificant. Think of the big things, the things that feel like constant weight on your shoulders and seem incredibly large and important at the moment, as boulders. Now, place each of these on a scale. On one side, you have this boulder that’s representing your struggle, whatever it may be, outweighing the other side by mass proportions. Now, one by one, start throwing on the pebbles. A pebble for each of life’s blessings – for each good thing in life. Random acts of kindness, each of your friends and family, beautiful weather, the smell of fresh coffee, cheesecake, etc. Anything you can think of that brings you even the slightest bit of joy.

As I started to think about this, I quickly realized that the combined weight of the pebbles was much, much greater than that of the boulder. I think we get so caught up in looking at the scale and seeing the boulder as something big and scary that we forget the amount of control we have over that scale. Sure, the boulder is heavy and it will take a lot to outweigh it, but there’s a reason people write books like Happiness is… or 14,000 Things to be Happy About. It’s because there are so many beautiful things in life that are easily overlooked. But as soon as you look at them and add them to your scale, you’ll quickly realize that the good really does outweigh the bad.