The little fishes are going nowhere. Though it looks from a distance that they are traveling happily through the deep blue sea, they aren’t. They aren’t even real. They’re the workmanship of someone who knows how to sculpt metal to look like fish swimming in the ocean even though they’re are fixed in place.
Sometimes that happens to people. We get fixed or stuck in a certain place yet we still move through life. The thing that gets us stuck can be a circumstance like my friend who recently lost her husband, her house, her animals, and everything she knew as safe for the past 33 years. Within a few months of her husband being diagnosed with cancer, poof, all gone. Though she had to keep moving through the daily tasks of living, work, health issues of her own, making decisions about where to live, for a while there she remained fixed in such deep grief that she wasn’t moving forward. I can’t imagine her pain and still can’t but that she can smile and even joke now says she is somehow healing.
Sometimes we’re stuck by our expectations like someone who moved miles away from friends to be near family and after getting into a house with a mortgage and other commitments realized that her ideals of what it would be like if she lived there were not the reality and she’d have been better off back where she was originally. Moving forward was difficult, but when she started taking steps in a forward motion, she found peace.
Sometimes we’re stuck by our feelings. We can become so fixed on our feelings that we don’t take action to move ourselves out of the state we’re in toward something better. We might be paralyzed by fear of something worse and choose to stay with what we know. We might be consumed with anger, or pain, or hurt, or guilt, and if we let that go, we’ll have to deal with it so we hold on to it and, thus, not move forward. We’re fixed in misery then.
God knows we’d have those times in our lives, those times when we’d need Him so desperately because without Him, we’re just stuck there. Two verses come to mind: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9
Instead of concentrating on those things that keep us in that place of misery, we can try to find the things for which we are thankful. For me, that looks like a job that let’s me make the house payment, that I and the kids have a place to live, that the car hasn’t given out today, that my kids are alive and well and I have the privilege of being their mom one more day, and even that my drive to and from work was safe. Sometimes I have to reach hard for those things to be thankful for and sometimes they are found in the mundane such as being able to find a parking spot rather than parking in the street because I’m so torn apart inside that I can’t think of anything else. I try to start the day with thanks and I definitely end the day with thanks no matter how horrible I feel, how upset I may be, or what has happened that day. I know I need to thank my God who sustains me through it all. And by doing that, my thoughts shift from being fixed on my pain to being fixed on the awesomeness of Jesus and all He has done for me in countless ways so that even through this, I know I am in His hands. And that moves me forward one little step, one word of thanksgiving at a time, and some of the angst, some of the fear, some of the indecision, some of the grief, some of whatever the feelings are that bind me are replaced with peace. Just that small step and I get a lift out of the bottom of the mud pit of life and back into motion again.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7