Eyes Up

“Eyes up.  Shoulders back…”

Somewhere in the corner of this cobwebbed brain, I hear a lilt, an almost sing-song to the phrase.  It swirls around so often that every now and again, I’ll hear it.  Jumping into my thoughts like an uninvited guest.

“Eyes up.  Shoulders back…”

It may be my mama’s voice.  Or the refrain of my 3rd grade posture-obsessed math teacher. Or maybe it’s just a line from a movie, a book or the great red sage, Elmo the Magnificent.

“Eyes up.  Shoulders back…”

Give me a break, you persistent little brain.  I am Sara the Sloucher.  You might as well slap a sticker on my forehead that says, “I am an equal opportunity, span across the decades, sitting on my can, standing on my feet, slouchy girl that is not going to listen to some weird voice telling her to change.” Give up and go HOME, buddy!

“Eyes up.  Shoulders back…”

THAT IS IT!!! I SAID SLOUCHER!!!! SLOUCHER! SLOUCHER!!! SLOUCHER!!!!!!!!!

And for a moment, I win.

But then I find myself standing on a foam rectangle, accessorized with a fancy balance belt and flanked by two lovely ladies.

“Sara, look up!”

“I’m trying but I can’t get…ooooooooherahhhhh…my feet…baaaaack…together!”

“Sara, now try looking up.”

After an audibly mature “PPPPPBBBLT” I do.

“Eyes up.  Shoulders back…”

He stands gingerly beside his therapy bed.  His wife, sitting alongside it, looks on with beautiful but tired eyes.  He begins to bend slowly downward as the therapist says, “Take your time…”

The tremor crescendos as he gets closer to the floor.

Parkinson’s.

The flutter of his hand. The atrophy in his legs. The squint of pain in his eyes.

All seem a stark contrast to the grace of his slow and steady body.

I cannot help but drink it in.

With every sip, I try harder. With every ounce, I complain less.  With every drop, I focus more.

And then I hear the familiar refrain, “Eyes up.  Shoulders back…”

But this time I listen willingly.

I look up and out and left and right and all around. I see fighters and heroes and lovers and facilitators. I hear encouragement and laughter, strong whispers and gentle admonitions.

I look outside myself.

To see needs greater than my own.

To hear pleas in the most familiar of voices.

“Mama, my heart hurts.”

“Sara, I’m barely getting by.”

“Sister, my mind is burdened.”

“Daughter, I am weary.”

“My love, I need you.”

As I count each plea, each need, I realize my often bothersome refrain is the same that beckoned Peter.

It is as if  Jesus is calling out to me as I wobble on my own waves, “Sara, get your eyes off your own feet, girl.  You’re sinking into your own storm.  If you want peace, LOOK UP. If you want joy, LOOK UP.  If you want hope, LOOK UP.”

And so I do.

To a place of clarity where I see not only the face of a Savior but I see the storms of those that surround me.

I do not turn away because I have become lost in a self-given label.  I do not turn away out of habit or annoyance.  I DO NOT TURN AWAY.

Because His voice demands not only attention but action.

“Eyes up. Shoulders, back.”

To see the flutter, the atrophy and the squint of pain.

“Eyes up. Shoulders, back.”

To be encouraged by the grace, the mercy and the love that surrounds it all.

“Eyes up. Shoulders, back.”

To be obedient to a need bigger than my own.

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