Just Look...

Just Look...

Friday, April 8, 2016

Look Up

I'm not a runner. Nor, actually, am I a water-walker. So I guess it's perfectly understandable that keeping my head up and my eyes focused ahead of me doesn't come naturally to me at all. And I guess that I should probably heed the message the Lord has sent me twice in the past three days... Actually more than twice, because I bet I heard it tonight at least 15 times as I stood at the track meet, timing clicker in hand, watching runner after runner go past. Over and over, Coach Frazier or Coach Thomas would yell out, "Look up!" "Keep your head up!" "Eyes out front!" I fully understand not looking behind you-- who has time for that? But my natural inclination is to look down and I can guarantee you that if I was running full speed down the track (can we take a moment and giggle at THAT mental image???), flying toward hurdles, I would be watching my legs to make certain they fully cleared them and I didn't need to prepare for a crash landing. Apparently, though, even in hurdles, you keep your eyes fixed ahead. Emma and I talked about it a little on the way home and she mentioned something I had never heard nor thought of before, even in lessons about Peter walking on the water and starting to sink when he looked down. She said that if you look down or around, you lose your momentum (I understand that concept) and you get dizzy. That's not something I have heard of, but as someone who is prone to a literal AND figurative dizziness, that hit home with me.

My family loves to take cruises. I do too, but I love them for the days in port. My ideal cruise would be one where I was just teleported from port to port and was never on the ship. In other words.... I guess not a cruise at all... ;) I don't enjoy the time on the ship because I am extremely sensitive to its movements. They all say that it's all in my mind but it is NOT. My equilibrium is whack. Plain and simple. I am the same way in old houses where the floor isn't totally level. I can feel it immediately and it makes me dizzy.

Dizziness is such a weird feeling-- or is it even a feeling??? It's not painful-- not aching or sharp or dull. It's just... Dizzy. Your head feels spinny and the ground feels unsteady and you feel a little sick. It's an empty sort of feeling. It's the dream that gets lost along life's journey, the loved one who's just beyond your reach, the passion that has lost its shine, the career that has suddenly betrayed you, the faith that shifts beneath your feet, the friends whose conversations die too quickly. When you're dizzy, everything that seemed solid and firm feels uneven and fragile.

 And the other really tough part about dizziness is that it's not something you immediately seek medical attention for, nor is it something you can easily put into words. In 2013, I was physically dizzy for about six months, off and on. It turns out it was a mixture of a hyperventilation incident (waiting my turn for a public speaking engagement, mind you-- I knew that first time I was breathing into a paper bag in Mrs. Hawes's public speaking class in 11th grade that it would kill me one day) that kind of threw my body into a weird cycle and dizzy migraines (which either started as a result of that or the timing happened to coincide perfectly with that day). It took me months to finally go to the doctor about it, and when I did, I felt like an idiot. Sharp pain in your side? Check, seek medical attention. Chest pains? Get help ASAP. Broken leg? Put a cast on that thing. Debilitating headache? You need a scan. Dizziness? Huh? It's just not something you feel legitimate about when you explain it to people. It feels... weak. And fake. And like you're fabricating an illness.

I think the sort of dizziness that comes from looking down and around instead of straight ahead in life is also really hard to put into words. It, too, feels like you're just looking at the negative side of things. It's one thing when you have some specific root for an actual pain. You can point to a situation and say, "This is the problem. This is what needs to be fixed." It's another when you just have to mumble around the rocks in your mouth at the question, "So how are things going?" "Um... They're going." Or "Well, it's hard right now." But the SPECIFICS, they aren't there.
It's hard because... I don't know.
I don't HURT, really...
I'm just ... Empty.
I just can't find level ground.
I just... don't have the words for it.
It's ... I'm dizzy.

I do know that you can only stay dizzy for so long before you will finally fall. And at THAT point, there WILL be a specific pain or cause to point to. And there will likely be some damage, too. The level of damage will just depend on how hard you fall. And how far.

So I guess the obvious answer here, the one that I heard Coach Frazier call out to middle school athlete after middle school athlete, is to just LOOK UP. Don't look around, don't look down, look up. Look past this hurdle, let go of the fear of falling, look past this person trying desperately to beat you, look beyond your aching body and your weary soul, and LOOK UP. Lift your eyes to the goal (Phil 3:14-15). Or lift them to the hills, from whence comest your Help (Psalm 121:1-2). Maybe some seasons of life are naturally shaky. Maybe some are going to be unsteady. But you just need to open your ears to the Coach, running that last leg beside you, gently reminding you to LOOK UP.