Psalm 107:28-29 -- Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.
Several months ago, I started going through a bit of a funk. A little black cloud hovered over me, dampening my thoughts and my mood. I was feeling like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Ever feel like that? It's odd how suddenly you can find yourself feeling out of place in places where you had previously naturally fit and flowed and existed. It's as if everything and everyone moved on to a new place and didn't give you the forwarding address. It reminds me of that old joke about the family that writes to their son and says, "You won't recognize the place when you get home as we have moved."
I was searching for the reason for my funk and why I was being plagued with thoughts of feeling unappreciated, unloved, inadequate, and not needed. Some of it, I thought, might be attributed to the "empty nest" syndrome. My daughter had been home all summer and now she was headed back to college. Also, I have been missing my family and friends terribly. It is hard to get out and see everyone as often as I would like, and I feel guilty about it. Several friends recently have gone through devastating life events and I have felt so heartbroken for them, yet don't know what to do for them. You start to feel a little powerless, and that can allow a "victim mentality" to creep in. So you mix all these heart-wrenching emotions, throw in the hormonal imbalances of on-coming menopause, and you have what I call a Hot Mess.
Luke 8:23-25 But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"
One day when I was crying out to the Lord to calm these storms that were raging all around me, I heard Him say in my spirit, "Sometimes, you are the storm." That felt like a lightning bolt to the heart of the matter. I began to look at my situation from a different perspective. It made me realize that I was making the all-too-common mistake of reacting, rather than responding, to life's challenges --making mountains out of molehills. I can't control what other people do or the choices they make, but those things affect me. I can react to how those actions make me feel by wallowing in sadness, hurt or disappointment, or I can respond by continuing to love the people in my life and staying on the path that God has laid out for me. For example, I miss my daughter and sometimes my heart aches for her, but I wouldn't have her anywhere else. I am proud of the independent, beautiful young woman she is becoming. She is enjoying life and thriving in the college environment. For 18 years, my life revolved around caring for her 24/7, but that time is over. I know it is time to do a new thing. Still, it does leave a hole in your life that can feel very dark and cold and lonely.
Our faith is a lifesaver when we feel ourselves sinking into these deep, dark waters. We have to rebuke those storm clouds and ask ourselves what Jesus asked the disciples when they feared the storm, "Where is your faith?" Many times I've read the story of how Peter stepped out of the boat and walked upon the waters, just like Jesus. It was only when he took his eyes off Him that he began to sink. In that moment of distress he called out to the Lord to save him, and he did. He stretched out His hand and caught him. When we trust in Jesus, we are walking on faith. Along the way, we will lose our focus and we will sink into funks, depressions, low spirits, the blues, pity parties, whatever you want to call them. We can drown or we can cry out to Him and He will catch us. One of His promises is that He will never leave us or forsake us. Even if it were true that everyone in our life had moved on and left us behind, we would still have Him and that would be enough.
Recognizing that sometimes I am the storm has been empowering. It has helped me to recognize when I am letting emotion derail or alter my reality. When I focus on Jesus rather than my situation, the storm clouds begin to clear and the sun shines on my face. I can be honest and say that sometimes those storms start brewing again from time to time. In fact, it was a recent bout that inspired this article. I had wanted to write this several months ago, but it wouldn't come together. Now that the thoughts and the words are flowing freely, I can't help but think that there is someone reading this right now who needs to hear this. You are not alone. God loves you and He can calm any storm, even if that storm is you.