In any kind of hurt - loss, illness, depression, isolation… what do people tend to do? We look for a way out, or we search for ways to reduce the pain.
What is your main way of dealing? My natural first instinct is to find an escape route. In Elementary school, when a yelling, ruler-slapping substitute teacher made the toughest boy in the class cry, I ran away from school at lunch time and walked home.
And to this day… when things are hard and painful, my first thought is “How can I get out of this?”
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If we can’t escape our pain, medicating it is the next best thing. Do any of these sound familiar: Depressed? treat myself to some (a whole tub) ice cream. Insecure? Go ahead and flirt with a co-worker just this once to get a little positive encouragement. Lonely? Watch a good romance movie, or two or three or four. Isolated? Get on an app and chat with anyone you can find. And so many more… self help books or courses. On and on it goes… I’m sure you could add to the list!
My favorite “medications” tend to be planning trips I'll never really take. Also M&M’s and a good tear jerk happy ending movie.
When I first became ill 20 years ago, there was no escaping. I felt ill, in pain, insignificant, and invisible.
We purchased a hot tub to help with my pain. And I remember those first couple of years, as everything I had been “doing” in life was stripped away from me, I cried out to God asking, “What should I do now?” “What CAN I do now?” His answer always came back… “Love Me”.
I would respond “Yes, but….” I didn’t want a spiritually quip answer… I wanted to know what to DO. How could I stop this? And if I couldn’t, what could I do in spite of it?
We as people focus too much on the “doings”… the right, the wrong, the rules. And we judge people who don’t “do” as we “do!" Success is judged by “doing”. Significance is judged by “doing."
Jesus said to me, get rid of that “doing” word for awhile. Just lift your eyes up to me… know me… love me.
I have held to this for 20 years. Sometimes, by just a string, but I still looked up, and loved him. Why? Because he loved me first - and most - and best!!
It’s taken a lot of years, but I’ve learned to strip away the self medication, and the urges to run and escape. I’ve learned that my own devices are not satisfying… at least not for very long. Now in my most desperate hours, I lift my eyes upwards.
Have you ever seen the Ko’o’lau Mountains on Oahu? Oh… they are MAJESTIC!! I can hardly take my eyes off them when I’m there! One year, we stayed in a house at the foot of the mountains. Outside the window, every time I looked upwards at the mountains, just in front of the window was a large, old plumeria. It was bare and had just a few flowers and leaves right at the top. The light would shine and sparkle through them as I lifted my eyes to the mountains.
It reminded me of this biblical poem: "I lift up my eyes to the mountains--where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
It was a beautiful visual of what I had been learning all these years. So I painted this… reminding me to keep turning my eyes upwards. I even have the original of this painting hanging in my bedroom until it finds it’s forever home, to remind me each morning!
Are you on this journey too? If you need to know more about what “lifting my eyes” to Jesus is all about, send me a message! I’ll see if I can give you some guidance from my own experience. Or maybe this is just the reminder you needed to keep turning your eyes upwards.
And most likely, you know someone who also needs this kind of encouragement today. Because as we lift our eyes and find help, we are also encouraged to open our eyes to those around us who need help. So check out our shop for all the gifts of encouragement we currently have available.
If you’d like to share with me how this artwork and story has impacted you, please click here to go to my contact form. I’d love to hear from you.