A lake has many moods.
Recently we were blessed with family vacation time in a home overlooking water contained by rolling foothills - an idyllic, beautiful and unpredictable setting.
One day held choppy waters and blue skies and we awoke the next morning to heavy fire-smoke and only the faintest lake ripples. Two days later we experienced four foot swells, white caps and wind gusts that stole our little float tube. Another 24 hours and presto, no wind, no smoke, no waves and blistering heat.
The lake's ever-changing presentation felt like mood-swings - from angry, relentless waves battering the shore to placid, calm hours with periods of intermittent gusts.
As I lounged and read on an inflated island one afternoon, the gentle rocking of my floating paradise began lulling me to sleep. Without warning, the wind hit with a vengeance, slamming water against the vinyl walls sending the island into heaving contortions. Out of the blue, my peace was disturbed.
Isn't that so much like life?
We carry on with our day, generally content and in an agreeable space, when a word, (or lack of words), someone's facial expression, an event, or even a smell triggers an intense reaction from deep within and we are transported to a rocking island of emotion, potentially feeling battered and at risk of sinking.
I'm so thankful I don't need to stay there.
My brain has stored sensory information - good and bad - since before I met this world. Something in my present world can tap into my emotional memory causing a flood of emotion, often disproportionate to the current situation.
However, unlike the lake which is at the mercy of the wind, I do not have to be swamped or swept away by the feelings. I can engage a different part of my brain - the thinking, logical portion - and, as I like to say, have a meeting with myself. It can sound like this:
"Wait a minute. What's really going on here? These feelings don't match what just happened. I'm not five anymore. What response am I going to choose as an adult?"
My emotional reaction can turn to an intentional response in seconds. Can - if I choose to engage my adult brain and not let my inner landscape be blown and tossed about.
I find my unexpected reactions can serve a purpose, leading to greater self-awareness, and, when placed before God, provide opportunity for healing, growth and even beauty, much like our capricious lake displayed.
The same powerful winds that caused damaging waves cleared away smoke and dramatically improved air quality. The passive, still water allowed algae to accumulate, painting the beach lime green and inviting thousands of tiny fish to dine.
Perhaps it's about how I look at what I see.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst