I woke up suddenly and sat straight up in bed. Something had just crashed— hard— and I had no idea what caused the sudden noise. A little rattled with concern, I got out of bed and started looking around. It was barely light outside, the January morning overcast and not very welcoming. There was something else that wasn’t all that welcoming— the mystery cacophony of sound. I was certain that once I encountered the source of the evidence, I was bound to find broken glass or something tipped over and spilled.
I walked into the living room, moved through the office, and turned back toward the bedroom. I didn’t bother looking in the kitchen because the sound had resonated fairly close to me, and the kitchen was on the other side of the house. Still seeing nothing, I flipped on the bathroom light. I quickly glanced at the mirror, thinking maybe that was the culprit. My grandmother’s bathroom mirror had recently detached from the wall, and I figured maybe that’s what had happened. I prepared myself for shattered glass everywhere. But no; that wasn’t it.
While looking in the mirror, I glimpsed something strange. The wall behind my head was way too empty. Something that had hung there was missing, and suddenly I knew what had happened. I turned to look down at the floor. In a mass of tangled wood, metal, and glittery gems, I glimpsed my entire jewelry hook/ organizational system scattered on the floor. I sank to my knees, immediately starting to untangle necklace chains from the now broken hooks that had once displayed them on the wall. I wanted to cry. How had this happened? I kept telling myself it was just jewelry— materialistic things— but in the moment, I was a mess of emotions.
In the days following Christmas, my parents and I had arranged to work on a few things around the house. But thanks to an ill-timed winter storm, my parents had departed early and left me at the house seemingly in the middle of things. In the two days previous, I had done my best to grow accustomed to some new Christmas gifts and their technology related elements. I had also endured a somewhat stressful week at the office with the transition from Christmas into the new year. In addition, I was worried about an upcoming review process and not looking forward to the uneventful winter days ahead. The tangled necklaces on the floor served as the final straw, and my overwhelm piqued to an alarming state.
Five wooden hooks had been severed from the backing, and I found that a necklace had been broken in two as well. Upon further inspection, I noticed that one of the necklace pieces was missing a gem. I figured the necklace was probably beyond repair, but I needed to find that gem. The necklace had been a gift from one of my sisters— something she had brought back from her trip to Amsterdam. With tears still brimming in my eyes, I went to the living room to retrieve my telescope. I focused in on the floor and scanned back and forth until finally I spotted the green gem glinting up at me. I grabbed it up, and then proceeded to retrieve the other necklaces from the floor as well.
After I had some time to calm down, I thought about my reaction to the ordeal. Like I wrote earlier, it had seemingly been the final straw that had sent my emotions swirling in an unhealthy direction. I needed perspective, and I knew that planning out music for the following Sunday was just what I needed to do— not only to distract me but to find a better mindset.
I didn’t have a clear understanding of the pastor’s sermon topic or the Scripture he would use, so I had to approach my planning from a different angle. Of course, prayer was a significant part of the equation, and I asked that the Holy Spirit might clarify a perceived direction. All at once, it struck me. In the midst of my mess (my negative attitude and the pieces scattered over my bathroom floor), I needed to be reminded of the greatness of my God. I needed to shift my focus from the material to the eternal. Just as I had looked intently for the missing jewel, I needed to set my sights on the One who could mend my shattered heart.
Planning for that Sunday’s service was a step in the right direction, but by the start of the service, I wasn’t quite there yet. I knew I needed to set aside myself in order to celebrate His greatness, but my humanity was pretty difficult to overcome. But as the service drew to a close, I began to feel a perceptible shift. The four of us took to the stage, and without hesitation, we began to sing the Chris Tomlin standard, “How Great is our God.” The lyrics had never resonated so clearly before, and as we transitioned into the timeless hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” I felt a chill come over me. The congregation was singing with passion, and I felt it distinctly. This song wasn’t just a means for me to worship Him, but it was a communal effort. It was resonating in the hearts of so many others, and it was then that I distinctly felt the presence of the Spirit.
It is remarkable that a set of songs in a praise and worship set, lifted up to the Creator, can not only bring honor and glory to His name but can also invade the hearts of those singing His praises. I left church that morning with a new spring in my step and hope in my heart. My focus had shifted and it was an incredible transition.
The week ahead certainly wasn’t easy, but I was able to move forward. A friend offered to help out with some tasks at home, I got back into a routine at the office, completed the review process. and learned of some possible opportunities to explore once I felt ready to embrace a more active schedule. If I allowed myself to focus on God’s greatness and His provision for my life instead of wallowing in negativity, I found I was able to thrive in the midst of uncertainty instead of crashing. My jewelry hooks are still a mess, but God is doing a work in my life, and I seek to focus my attention on Him and only Him.