Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Eyes of the Storm

It's so easy for us to identify with the disciples in the storm sagas of the Gospels. Twice, they are in a boat, rocked by wicked waves, crying out to Jesus to save them. And He's either asleep or away. It looks like they're all on their own, and we know what it feels like to be on a boat that's rocking. 

But did you know that you weren't made to be shaken?

Over the past several weeks, I have had opportunity (ok, necessity) to undergo a series of medical evaluations, one of which just sunk so deep into my heart as I thought about the implications. And it was this very thing - this idea of being shaken. 

Apparently (and I know because I've been through it), you can do just incredible things to the brain to trick it into believing one thing or another. There are, for examples, a number of ways to induce severe dizziness or vertigo in a person while also allowing them the comfort of sitting completely still. These tests are designed to understand the way that the innermost portions of the brain are processing this type of experience, to determine whether dizziness is merely a sensation or whether it is a pathology. 

And the way that the medical community determines how the brain is processing the experience of dizziness is by recording movements of the eyes. In a person with no pathology, even the most severe dizziness will not cause the eyes to move. Read that again - even when the world is violently spinning around them, their eyes will remain perfectly steady. Only in the diseased do the eyes begin to shake. 

This is not some mere passing dizziness; the episodes induced by this testing are severe and seemingly endless. One particular test produces a dizziness that turns the world completely upside-down and lasts for at least two minutes (which feels like an eternity, let me tell you). The ceiling is on the floor. You feel like you're standing on your head. You feel like you're floating because your feet don't feel steady on anything. 

Yet if you're perfectly normal, your eyes are steady.

You weren't made to be shaken.

It's an incredible thing to consider, really. You'd think that it would be the other way around - that it would be the diseased brain that would fail to respond to such powerful stimuli. That it would be the diseased eyes that would seem vacant and unaffected. But it's just the opposite: it is the diseased eyes that are shaken. 

The normal eyes are unmoved. 

It changes the way I think about trouble. That much is for sure. One of the comments I've always heard about my ministry is that I'm good as a chaplain because I'm unafraid, because I'm unshaken. Because I can look the hardest things of this world in the eye and not flinch. It's not a skill I've practiced, per se; it just seems to be the way I've been created. 

It turns out, it's the way you've been created, too. 

You were made with eyes that keep steady in the storm. You were made not to flinch. You were made not to be tossed about by this life, but to have this firm place within you that doesn't move. It doesn't mean we're not all a little pathological from time to time, letting ourselves be rocked by the storms. It just means that's not the norm. It's not the intention. It's not your creation. 

You were made for the storms.

That ought to give you something to hold onto when the winds start blowing, huh?

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