Inside, outside, upside down: what life sometimes looks like from here

Aerial view (Photo: CKirgiss)
Aerial view (Photo: CKirgiss)

The past few years have been a bit, well, giant-swing-ish.

One main reason: I went back to school for a PhD, on a whim, which doesn’t qualify as even a Really Silly Reason.

Balancing academic life and ministry life has been like riding two different giant swings . . . at the same time…which might explain all the stomach lurches, head rushes, and recurrent bouts of low-grade nausea that often accompany such two-giant-swing seasons of life.

When I rode a real giant swing at camp last week, I videotaped and photographed the whole thing, on a whim, which doesn’t qualify as even a Really Ridiculous Reason. Camera phones are expensive. Giant swings are, well, giant swings. Meant to be experienced. Meant to be exhilarating. Meant to be enjoyed.

In order to videotape and photograph the ride, I had to keep my eyes on the screen. Carefully. While clutching my phone. Tightly. While swinging. Wildly.

In a very small and massively metaphorical way, it was a lot like life – not just my life of the past 10 years but, I suspect, many people’s lives at their most regular.

I missed much of the ride’s wild joy because I was concentrating on filming it. I missed many of the best photos because I was sailing through the air too fast to think or focus.

I got maybe one good picture. One. Plus a nauseous-ish headache because I failed to keep my eyes fixed on the horizon.

There is much blathery blather out there about “being grounded” and “living a balanced life” and “centering yourself,” most of which require a person to ditch life’s various wild rides and creative expressions entirely.

Much better to joyfully ride whatever giant swings may come our way, being sure to fully enjoy them by keeping our eyes on the breathtaking surroundings.

Much better to live a rhythmic life that is sometimes slow, sometimes fast, sometimes wild, sometimes calm, being sure to express it creatively in our realities and our relationships.

Much better to center Jesus – not just center on him but actually center him – which equates to also immersing, surrounding, and filling ourselves with Him.

Life is rarely predictable, balanced, or safe. That was never the intent nor the promise.

Instead, life is sweet (even when sorrowful), exhilarating (even when difficult), and full (even when unknown).

Or at least it should be.