When Dorothy and Toto land after the wild Kansas storm, nothing looks like or is like Kansas anymore. It’s not a surprise they are clueless about what to do next or how to find their way home. In the 1939 iconic movie, The Wizard of Oz, a character known as “the good witch of the North” appears on the scene and gives Dorothy a pair of magic silver shoes and tells her to “follow the yellow brick road” to the Emerald City and challenge the Wizard to get her back home to Kansas. She cautions Dorothy that the magic silver shoes will keep her safe.
It can be so easy to look for a way back to where we were when we end up in a strange place. In our disorientation, we can be tempted to take our cues about what to do next from sources we have no relationship with or reason to trust. Dorothy was holding on to the promise the “good witch of the North” had told her about how the Wizard could help her find her way back home.
What are we holding onto to find our way to “normal” or find our way home?
“We spend so much time thinking of what we need, what we will do next, what we can have that will make us happy, fill our dark places with light. But, as I’ve come to find, so often it isn’t what we hold on to that moves us onto the right path. It’s what we let go of.”Kristy Woodson Harvey
We live in two worlds, the natural physical world, and the unseen spiritual world, and it can be tempting to look for an escape in the natural world when we suddenly end up in a world we don’t recognize and yet are still living in. Because our brains process information in the form of a narrative or story, how many of us have considered where we are in our story now? It had seemed our story was going along a theme we thought we understood before the pandemic and all that has happened since then, but to “find our way home” it’s key to determine where we are in our story now.
“The story we hold to at any given time shapes our perceptions, hopes, and expectations, it gives us a place to stand. In this mad hour on earth, what story are you telling yourself – or letting others tell you?
Is it a political narrative? We just need to get the right people in power!
Is it a social narrative? The issue is injustice! We need justice!
Is it about the economy? A new era of prosperity is coming!
Most importantly, is it the story God is telling?”John Eldredge
When a crisis hits, our natural bent is to look for information and sources of news to help us know where we are, what is happening, and what to do. When I look at other times past, I see people huddled around TV’s or radios for that. That happened throughout WW II, when the Challenger exploded, when some heinous crime splashed across the program we were caught up in watching or listening to. What we are told then and believe about it begins to form how much we fear, trust, or become paralyzed with uncertainty. All of that happened again when the pandemic swept around the globe and intensified when we were locked down for a period of time. Seldom do we see at the time what the stories we are being told are doing to erode our reserves. Our usual avenues for grounding and staying in the God story of our spiritual world can become less steady for some of us.
We know now that we hear “the worst is over” and we want to believe that, but things don’t still feel like they once were. The sources of our information give us hints of the next looming crisis and it feeds the anxiety we have sought to rein in after the past several years.
“Something is in the air, a sense of imminence, but the world wants to pretend everything is fine, like the cancer patient who can’t bring themself to face their diagnosis.”John Eldredge
Perhaps that is why we have been seeking so many things we used to enjoy since 2022 began. We keep hoping this nagging uncertainty will stop haunting our steps or disturbing our sleep and eroding our joy while we get caught up in the next pandemic, the next war, and so much more.
The battle lines have already been drawn and the field of battle is our mind and heart. What we listen to or take in will be key to victory for us. Time and again scripture tells us to take our thoughts captive, but the last few years have wearied us, and it is key to be on the alert. Who or what is informing your story of where you are and what is or is about to happen? Can you see why a great vacation, a walk in the moonlight, a glass of wine, or a lazy afternoon by the pool does not relieve what is swirling inside of you?
“Remember – the battle right now is for the narrative, who gets to frame the story for you? Either it will be God, or someone else. If you are ‘alarmed,’ something has drawn your attention away from the story of God. Let your fears, anxieties, anger, or rage alert you that you’ve been taken hostage; stop and get your bearings.
The story of God should get more of your “attention time” than any other media.”John Eldredge
The wrong narrative will tell you there is fear, no hope, give up, and don’t believe the God story.
We have been so accustomed to things happening with a quick click on our phone, computer, or other devices that we have done little to develop resilience. Perhaps the strength of “the greatest generation” was sculpted from living through the hard years of the Great Depression.
If we listen to the God story, we might well see He can impart resilience in us because of what we have lived through rather than what we sought to avoid.