I have come to realize that I have this problem. Well actually, I have known about it for a while. My husband always points it out to me when we are waiting for a table at our favorite restaurant or walking through the mall. Or Target. Or the parking lot. Or sitting in the doctor’s office. Or even putting the groceries into the car. I always laugh him off and respond by saying “I can’t help it”.
But lately I have realized that my staring problem extends far beyond the couple arguing in the corner of the restaurant or the mother disciplining her child as she puts them in their car seat. It’s deeper than staring at the teenage girl yelling at her boyfriend or the child throwing a fit in the doctor’s office. You see, I like to stare at chairs. I know…it’s weird. But stick with me because I bet you do too.
Because while this problem I have with staring at “chairs” has always been a problem, I didn’t realize it until recently. Let me explain…
Several weeks ago while making breakfast and getting our foster child ready for school, she randomly started talking non-stop and super-fast about that “one time” I took her to the circus. And as I listened to her chatter away about how she only remembers the elephant ride and nothing else (including the popcorn and drinks that was the same price as a steak dinner), I vividly remembered the performance involving the strong 300 pound lion and scrawny 160 pound lion tamer. Talk about making me sweat! Yikes! I wonder how he gets an insurance policy…
Anyway, I will never forget sitting there on the edge of my seat, mesmerized and baffled as the lion tamer was able to command and maneuver this ferocious animal around the ring with just a whip and a small chair in his hand. I know that if I were him, I would need more than a whip and a chair. I would need a full armor body suit and a shark’s cage. Which led me to wonder why, besides holding a whip; the lion tamer would only arm himself with a chair and point its legs toward the roaring beast. Because come on…A chair? But after some research, I learned the whole idea of the chair is to simply distract.
You see, in the death defying scene of the lion tamer holding the whip and a chair, the whip gets all of the attention, but it is mostly for show. In reality, it’s the chair that does the important work because when a lion tamer holds a chair in front of the lions face, the lion tries to focus on all four legs of the chair at the same time. And with its focus divided, and as the lion stares, it doesn’t know what to do. So he becomes confused–stunned–frozen and basically unable to attack the man.
Isn’t that incredible? I never knew that as powerful as the beast is, it can be immobilized and stripped of its power by simply staring at a chair. How silly of that lion, right?
But friend, I have realized that I am just like that lion. I also have staring problem. Because there are days when I’m in life’s circus ring, just standing there. And staring. I’m staring at the “chairs” that seem to be pointed in my face. It’s the “chair” of not being a good enough wife. Or a good enough foster mom. Or it’s the “chair” of infertility. Or the “chair” of those who have hurt me. Or the “chair” of my past failures. And I find that when I stare at those “chairs”, I also become paralyzed. And distracted. And immobilized. And unable to see beyond my worries. Or overcome my fears.
Just a few months ago I found myself distracted when I saw a beautiful mother of three getting into her shiny new minivan (loved that van). And as she put her adorable children in their car seats, I caught myself comparing my life to hers. And I no longer felt blessed. No longer beautiful. No longer content.
And how could I forget all of those sleepless nights while staring at the “chairs” of tomorrow and feeling immobilized with anxiety. Or each month when my cycle begins or I am holding yet another negative pregnancy test? Because be honest, sometimes in that moment, all I do is stare at my “chair.” And I when I do, I become distracted and fearful. I forget that with God all things are possible. And that no matter what my situation looks like in this moment, everything could suddenly and without notice change next month. I forget all of this because I’m too busy staring and focusing on the “chair.”
Have you ever been there?
Perhaps your “chairs” look different from mine. Maybe your “chairs” are doctor’s reports or the negative experiences others have had in your similar situation? You know…the stories from those who didn’t have their prayers answered? Or maybe it’s the “chair” of a bad relationship or financial struggles. Maybe it’s cancer or a chronic illness? Maybe it’s just the “chair” of a bad day? No matter the “chair,” I can promise you they all have the same end result. They all distract. They all cause us to feel powerless. And hopeless. And worried. And discouraged. And fearful. And…(you fill in the blank)
But friend, in the last several weeks I have learned that it doesn’t have to be that way. Because while you are the lion, and the “chair” is your problem, have you thought about who is the one behind the chair? You know, the one holding it and causing you to be distracted? Can I give you a hint? Some people would say he has horns, wears a red cape and carries around a pitch fork. You know who I am talking about don’t you? But I also believe he dresses like a lion tamer and holds a chair. And His mission in life is to distract you. And immobilize you. And paralyze you. Why? So you don’t realize the kind of power you have inside of you that could instantly tear him apart.
So friend, as you step into the circus ring called life today, choose to not stare at your “chairs.” Don’t spend your free time researching your problem out of fear and panic or waste time worrying about the “what if’s.” Because I believe that as you stop staring, hope will rise; dreams will start to grow, feelings of defeat will vanish, and peace that only our Heavenly Father can give will overwhelm your soul.
And doesn’t that sound good?
But trust me, I know not staring is tough. It isn’t easy to just stop. Because let’s face it, sometimes we do it without even realizing it. Especially when a couple is fighting in a restaurant. And when it comes to our problems, worrying just seems to come natural. Am I right? But friend, can I suggest something to possibly help you? Can I suggest you choose to stare at Jesus instead of that “chair”? Because I believe that He is the One who can not only help you stop staring at it, but also give you the strength, courage and boldness of a lion to kick it out of your face. And who wouldn’t like that?
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