Monday, April 14, 2014

Rubber Ducks and Anchors

I was thinking about my rubber duck today and had an epiphany.

One of my greatest flaws is my tendency to get swept away by my emotions. I don't mean that in some sort of romantic, happy way. I get swept away in a way that makes it seem like when I feel something, that feeling trumps everything else. When I feel alone, that feeling tends to trump the truth that God is always with me. When I feel worthless, it trumps the truth that Jesus paid the highest price for my salvation.

I have been working hard to improve in this area, and I think especially in the last few months I've started to see some maturity there. I'd describe my life in 2014 as spiritually turbulent. I've been asking really hard questions and finding no satisfactory answer. I've been reading scripture that I can't make sense of and that makes me feel angry and sad. I've cried during sermons and stood silent during worship, unable to utter words that I don't know if I mean. And through all this I've been faithfully praying and reading my Bible, serving in church regularly, having deep conversations with friends, pushing through this chaotic storm just trying to hang on until the waters calm.

This brings me to the rubber duck. A few years ago a friend of mine was being supportive through a similar time of spiritual turbulence. She encouraged me to just keep floating on the water and ride out the storm. She then spent the next week or two looking for just the right rubber ducks before she gifted me one duck with a pirate hat, eye patch, and striped shirt and one duck that was blue so I would have a tangible reminder to ride out the storm.

So I was gazing at my pirate duck (the one I keep on my work desk) and thinking about storms and water when the lyrics "and this hope is an anchor for my soul" floated through my mind. When I think of anchors, I tend to think of sinking and drowning, but today I was thinking about how they are stabilizing. When you're in a storm, you want to stay afloat, but you also don't want to find out that you've blown off course when the waters finally calm and you can see where you are. An anchor keeps you where you need to be regardless of what the water is trying to do.

Somehow this idea of an anchor gave me a new perspective on hope. For a long time I've sort of resented the idea of hope because I had several years where my life was very dark and hope seemed nowhere to be found. Hope seemed so emotionally unstable, so fickle. Now I think maybe hope is more like something that's there subconsciously, waiting for the storm to die down so you can see it was there all along. Remember the story of when Jesus and the disciples were on the water and a storm came up? Jesus was sleeping. The disciples were freaking out. I want to be more like Jesus, calm in the midst of my emotional storms, instead of like the disciples, sure I'm going to die. The great thing is, though, that whether or not I'm able to keep my cool, the anchor is there. My faith is there, anchoring me. Faith is bigger than just how I feel on any given day towards God. It's something that tethers my identity to something bigger than my circumstances. I don't need the right answers, I don't have to try to be a better person or earn more righteousness. I just have to cling to the hope of my anchor to keep me where I need to be so I can emerge from the storm victorious.

It's hard to put into words exactly how I'm feeling right now, but I think the best way to sum this whole post up is to say that this: my whole life it's seemed like there's a disconnect between my head and my heart. I always had all the "right" answers intellectually, but I couldn't make my feelings match what I knew in my head. Somehow this revelation of hope being an anchor has bridged the gap, at least a little. I feel such a confident peace that I will be OK, even knowing that there will still be times I will cry myself to sleep out of fear or despair or feeling utterly alone. I will make it through the storm and keep sailing forward because I am anchored to Jesus. What a beautiful revelation to ponder during Holy Week.