On a cold, grey night towards the end of last fall, I packed my car full of friends and drove to Minneapolis to see Switchfoot perform at First Ave. At that point in my life, I felt like I was walking through fog. I could only see far enough in front of me to take one more step, but aside from that I couldn’t see anything else in front of me, above me, or to my side. I was slipping back into an abyss of a recurring addiction, my problems with anxiety resurfaced with a vengeance, and my priorities were off kilter. I was in the most stressful academic semester of my career, my leadership ability was impaired, and didn’t know how to process it all. I was in need of a big break. This was it. I didn’t have to worry about assignments, job shadows, or leadership meetings. It was me, my friends, and the music.
The show was mesmerizing. The crowd was energized and the atmosphere felt so right. The lasting impression was the finale. With lead singer, Jon Foreman, hanging from the balcony of the venue and crowd surfing, the band played their last song, “When We Come Alive,” an epistle about finding your purpose and living life with meaning. Not only was that final act inspiring, it provoked me to think about how far I have come. For a moment, life was good. Everything was in line for that moment. In those moments where there seems to be harmony in the midst of chaos is when I think about God’s faithfulness.
Beginning to put parts of my life to rest and close the book for one last time reminds me that what life can look like on the other end. I think about what I can do with that freedom and what God has in store with me. In the midst of the stress of school, sickness (I’ve been fighting off a respiratory infection), starting counseling, and unpacking years of scars and souvenirs, I’ve been able to experience joy…
Coffee in Minneapolis on warm spring evenings. Driving with the windows down and cranking the radio. Getting owned in Monopoly. Crappy ABC Family movies on Netflix. Walks with my mom. Passing out on the mat from working out. Trivia nights with my sister. Halo 3, skee ball, and steak nights with the guys. Playing with my cat.
These are simple reminders that life can still be celebrated in the midst of disarray. I don’t say this as a plea to ignore life’s hurdles and avoid the pain (as I mentioned in the last post), but it’s a reminder to keep the little things in mind. Though these moments seem miniscule, they began to stack on top of each other and over time I started to take solace in them. I never had this outlook until I began to realize how God had begun to slowly transform me and give me a new lens to look at life through. Ecclesiastes 7:14 says that all good things come from God. All of those things I have been able to enjoy are gifts bestowed on me from God.
Furthermore, when I reflect on God’s faithfulness, I think about the fact that the pain is temporary. It’s not forever. The Marine’s have a famous slogan that my dad liked to say… “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” There is truth in a statement like that. Knowing that I am addressing my short comings accordingly through wise counsel, time, and dedication makes me remember that the pain will last for a while, but the possibility of what’s in store for me on the other side keeps my fire lit. It’s reflected through verses like 1st Peter 5:10 – And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
In 2009, Switchfoot wrote an album called Hello Hurricane, which was lyrically inspired about a Hurricane Katrina survivor determined to live confidently after the devastation of the storm. The title track is an audaciously uplifting anthem of perseverance that rings true in its melodic chant. I think about that when I live in these moments and understand that a storm is up ahead and I can do nothing to stop its rage. All I can do is face it with confidence knowing that it may hurt, but it will subside and clearer skies will come.
My encouragement is to find those small moments in your day, whether it be a laugh with a co-worker, lunch break with a buddy, reading a favorite novel in the afternoon warmth, cuddling with a pet, or cranking your favorite album at warp 20. Cherish those moments and understand that those are small gifts we are given to experience, especially when life weighs on us.