I sat on the couch praying in earnest. I had woken early, something I tend to do when worried, and as I sat on my sofa sipping coffee I sought the Lord to ease my anxious heart. It was all I knew to do.
Suddenly I saw myself standing in the ocean. My feet rested on a floating dock, but I could see the water washing over my bare toes. A storm raged in the distance, and I watched as it approached quickly. Waves upon waves grew and swelled. I could tell from how they were building that I wouldn’t last long in the middle of it all. Logic told me so. I would drown.
My worries that woke me that morning had come from financial concerns. My paycheck had been a lot less than I had planned, allowances and reimbursements expected had not been included by pure accidental oversight, and it had forced me to shift things around in my budget, to delay payment on some bills. As a person who desired orderly ducks all in a row, this was unacceptable. My mind began to spin with worst-case scenarios and possible pitfalls.
In my vision of standing solitarily in the sea, the waves continued to bombard me, much as warring worries were doing in the present. But as I stood alone, frightened by the surging waters and darkened skies, Jesus appeared to me. He kinda took me off guard. He didn’t appear in the distance like a white knight on His trusty stead, but rather materialized into my arms like He had been there all along. He was holding me tightly, embracing me, making me forget the storm, and just as suddenly as I focused on His embrace, the storm disappeared. Like it had never existed in His steady presence.
In the world, the term tunnel vision is typically considered a bad thing. It connotes being so focused on a particular thing that you can’t see anything else. But is that really a negative trait to have?
In my life, I could easily focus on my financial troubles and how they defined me as a provider for my family and budgeter.
After going back to work full time I noticed my young children had become closer to their father, and they seemed to depend on him more than me. Their apparent favoritism for him, in my eyes, brought me some sadness, making me feel like I wasn’t as important as a mother as I used to be.
I had recently written an article I put much time and thought into. I was proud of my work, but it hadn’t been received as favorably as I intended. The lack of fanfare and enthusiasm from the public left me feeling deflated as a writer.
As I got older my hormones were dropping and surging, causing me mood swings and a billion other symptoms. As a woman, I felt crazy at times emotionally, unstable, and this bled into my relationships with others. It was often times overwhelming.
But as I’ve been bombarded by the waves of emotions, problems, and roles in my life that I think define me, I realize tunnel vision is needed. My children’s feelings for me no more define me than my ability to pay a bill on time, or my success as a writer. They’re all things that exist in my life, but when I focus on the instability of these things as my reason for being or my definition of self, I’m often left disappointed. In truth, it’s who I am in Jesus that defines me. Therefore it’s His truth and His voice I must focus on.
When the storms of life rage, because, by golly, they will, it’s a strict tunnel vision I must maintain to keep from drowning. I cannot look to the left, or to the right. In Matthew 14 when Peter attempted his walk on the water, it was his fear of the wind and sea that made him sink. Had he kept his eyes firmly on the Lord he would have stayed afloat, I do believe. There’s a lesson there.
It’s not our problems that define us, nor our shortcomings. It’s not our roles in this world or our fear of failure. It’s our heritage as sons and daughters of God that defines us, and it’s our ability to focus on that truth that keeps us afloat in this world. When we take our eyes off truth we believe lies. When we take our focus off Jesus we are afraid. There is no fear in love. But you have to focus firmly on love to keep out fear. You have to maintain a tunnel vision that is so set on the light that no darkness can peek through. In Him we are enough; no matter what the storms may say.