The Squeeze

Skinny Girl Squeeze beginning

All I can seem to think about the last few days is what it is to be squeezed. Maybe you can relate. You know that feeling when the walls, the ceiling, the air above, and the floor beneath you, seem to be closing in. It’s that sensation of not knowing if you’ll make it out…not knowing if that elusive light at the end of the tunnel will bring warmth to your face. It is the season of the uncertainty, the uneasiness of tight places, the wondering in the wandering.

When my husband and I were on our honeymoon, we spent some time among the rocks and trees in the Northern Alabama. The wonderful man from whom we’d rented the cabin we stayed in took us out on his land one afternoon to explore, hike, and get lost in the majesty of it all. In the spirit of adventure he talked us into going through a few tight places where the rocks barely gave access. First, we wriggled our way through what he called, “Fat man’s squeeze”. It was a little tricky for my husband to maneuver, but my scrawny frame didn’t object so much.

A little further down the path, we came to an opening in the rocks that he informed us was “skinny girl’s squeeze”. He didn’t fit so he’d never been that way, but one gentlemen who worked for him had made it through and told of the gorgeous view from the other side. Maybe the wonder and majesty of the journey had awakened a bravery and sense of adventure in me that had been dormant for a while, but I thought, “I’m a skinny girl…bring it!” and decided to give it a shot.

Everything was fine until about halfway through. The walls of stone around me had narrowed a bit and I wasn’t sure if I was as skinny as I thought I was. Size zero or not, it was getting tight in there. Then my shoe got stuck. By this time, my feet had to be turned sideways, as if I was ready to plié my way through. There was no room to turn in any way. In an effort to free my foot from its prison, I leaned a bit toward the end of the crevice until I was almost lying down. I heard my guide from behind yelling for me not to lie down or I’d never make it. They wouldn’t be able to go in after me either and help wasn’t a possibility. I HAD to keep going, upright; there was no other option.

I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I eventually got free and made it to the other side, an inch and wiggle at a time. It was beautiful there. There was something magical about knowing I was one of very few who’d been where I was standing. I felt alive in a new way standing there in the open, knowing I’d made it through the squeeze. I drank in the beauty surrounded by stone that had kept so many out. There, in the openness, where the sun shone free, I was a conqueror, a warrior who’d fought through the obstacles and made it to freedom.

Lately, I’ve been in a place that reminds me of the rock. I’ve been squeezed, hard-pressed on every side as scripture describes it. I know now, just as I did then, that God will never put me somewhere without providing a way out. There is a light on the other side. But, I have to keep moving forward to reach it. If I lie down, I’ll end up stuck. Even when my feet seem wedged into the rock, there’s a rock that’s higher than I that is faithful to bring me to freedom if I just keep on standing. I have to keep moving forward, there is no other option. He, my guide and comfort, is faithful, and He calls to me words of instruction and encouragement even when I’m beginning to panic.

On the other side, there is a beauty I’ve never known. On the other side, I am stronger. On the other side, the sun is shining and I am wiser and more prepared for the next obstacle. I will never forget the squeeze. I will always keep moving forward. The other side is so worth the journey.

squeeze

Tranny Slip Blues

Twelve

Twelve

I’m all in and I’m not here at the same time

Divided and conquered by complacency

I’m willing and driven but my ‘tranny’* has stalled

when I should be moving forward I find myself slippin’

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

There’s so much to be done but my brain’s asleep

Oh Lord, let my love for you be my motivation

Be my strength today while I keep pumping the gas

Eventually, it will all kick in and I’ll be off and running again

Until then, I’ll just keep going

*Notes and explanation for those of you who drive vehicles that actually work properly. “Tranny” is what my fixer-upper family has always called the transmission in a vehicle. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had your tranny slip, but it sometimes feels like this: you hit the gas, get half way through the intersection and it just won’t accelerate anymore. If you pump it enough, it may kick in and then you jerk forward and take off and sometimes this happens repeatedly before you can really go anywhere. You listen to the engine rev but you’re not moving. It’s not fun! I’m thankful to say this hasn’t happened to me in quite sometime. We had one vehicle awhile back (affectionately named “Burt, the van of Destiny”) that did this for a long time before we finally broke down (no pun intended) and got a new transmission.

I sometimes have days where I feel like good ol’ Burt. My “get up and go” just doesn’t want to “get up and go” though I have the best of intentions. I’m sure lack of sleep or lack of coffee are contributors to this phenomenon. Either way, I’m hoping God will rejuvenate my giddy-up and infuse me with a little strength to accomplish great things today. In the meantime, I plan to just keep moving. One little thing at a time.

Clarity

Crash Course

I was in a car accident about fifteen years ago. It happened on a Sunday afternoon on my way home from church. I was pulling in my driveway when she hit me. I never saw it coming. Apparently, she didn’t notice me slowing down to turn until the last second. When she did see me, she swerved INTO the driveway instead of away from it and consequently, nailed the side of my car right there in my driveway traveling around 45 miles per hour.

Everyone was okay, despite some cuts, bruises and a little whiplash. It was definitely one of the scariest parenting moments I can remember. My daughter was in her car-seat in the middle of the back. I remember it taking me a moment to realize what had happened and then hearing her screaming. My best friends little sister was with me also and the impact was very close to where she was sitting. She was 8. She looked completely dazed and blood was pouring from her face and mouth. It was in that moment, when it all hit me, that the panic set in. Suddenly, nothing else mattered but the kids. I didn’t even notice my injuries until later after I was sure everyone was okay. My car was totaled.

This morning I was thinking about how life can feel like a colossal mess sometimes. You’re traveling along enjoying the ride, when out of nowhere, it hits. You didn’t even see it coming, and you’re stunned by the impact. You spend some time trying to process it all. Maybe you feel your pain first, maybe you notice the others around you. Maybe you realize what you’ve lost right away or maybe it all comes in pieces, little by little, you take it all in and you break down a little more over time.

Often, we wonder why it happened. There’s usually no readily available explanation. Sometimes the hurt is so extreme that we turn heavenward demanding answers. Sometimes, the heavens are silent.

Some react with rage, others sorrow. Some weep while others remain locked in uncomfortable numb. We all have our ways of dealing with the aftermath.

I don’t have answers to the question why. I try to figure it out sometimes like we all do, but in the end only God knows the plan and we are called simply to trust him. But maybe sometimes he’s hoping when life hits hard, we will turn outward first. Maybe the trials of life are intended to train us to think of others and not just us.

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

It’s not always our natural reaction to think of others in the midst of our greatest pain and loss. But our greatest comfort often comes when we do just that. Whatever your reaction is, it’s most important that you get up and keep going. Don’t let anything stop you from fulfilling your destiny. You were created for greatness. Don’t let anything stop you from believing that.

I don’t know what you’re going through. Maybe life is crashing around you as I write this. Maybe your cruising along loving the journey. My greatest desire is that you would know that you are in His hands, He has a plan and that someone out there needs you to get up and keep on going. You are not alone. Look around. Look up. Keep moving forward! It’s going to be okay as long as we keep our eyes on Him.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28