This morning I found myself in a place where not only did I face no distractions, but my entire job was to lie still, earplugs firmly in place, for 20 minutes.
That doesn’t seem difficult, but at first, it was. Maybe because I was rolled into an MRI tube and had to spend the first 30 seconds talking myself out of a panic attack. Close your eyes, I told myself. Take a deep breath. Pretend you’re lying on the couch taking a nap.
Except I don’t nap. I’m the one person who can’t sleep on a plane while everyone else is in LaLa Land. Unless I’m in bed and it’s dark outside, I’m not sleeping. I’m going, going, going, pretty much all the time. That’s why finding myself in an MRI machine caught my attention. It made me realize that I never just lie there, at least without my cell phone or a magazine or a movie playing in front of me.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling. We live in a hectic world where there is so much to do, so much to think about, that many of us are constantly swimming or treading water, but never just floating. How often do we have our cell phones taken from us before being trapped in a tube where we have no choice but to just relax and think?
So while I was in that dreaded contraption, I closed my eyes, tried to ignore the intermittent, loud sounds as the machine did its thing, and just let me mind do its thing. It’s interesting what happened next.
I didn’t think about what I needed to get at the grocery store and all the chores I have to complete before my family begins arriving in a few days. I didn’t mentally check items off my Christmas list. Instead, my mind wandered to the people in my life who have played a significant role, those who have impacted me, sent my life down a different path, or made me look more deeply at myself and what I wanted.
I stopped noticing the clattering of the machine, stopped wondering how long I had been in there, and got lost in thoughts, in beautiful memories. It was like God was saying to me, You’ve been running around like a crazy woman, and yes, you talk to me all the time while you’re walking the dog or driving to the gym. But here’s an opportunity for you to stop. To breathe. To look at this life I’ve given you and take these precious 20 minutes to be grateful for it.
The time washed away. In fact, I was shocked when I began the slow slide forward and heard the tech’s voice telling me we were all done. It actually disappointed me. That machine that so many people dread actually became a cocoon for me, and the 20 minutes that was at first panic-inducing turned into a gift from God.
Walking back to my car, I thought about how powerful our minds are. They can control our reactions to just about anything. They can convince us of anything. We can view the exact same situation from a place of fear and loathing or from a place of calm and contentment. Nothing was going to happen to me in that machine – the air wasn’t any tighter, I wasn’t going to suffocate, and if I needed a break, I needed only to push a button. My mind knew all that – it just needed to be convinced to relax and think of something else.
And when it did – when I calmed my mind and let God in – He came. He brought me thoughts he knew I needed right now, in the midst of this bustling season. He reminded me that all that matters is the people, the relationships, and the memories made when we keep our focus right there. And of course, he reminded me of Him. He is the one who has given us the gift of memories, the gift of love that can’t be defined, and the gift of the people we have right now who make our lives complete.
I’m not wishing an expensive lab test on anyone right now. But what I am wishing for all of you is a few uninterrupted moments to reflect. God has blessed all of us in ways we’ve not even realized. I hope you will take some time to realize some of them.
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