Life Storms… They Will Happen…

Is there a hurricane in your life?  Does it feel like you are being personally buffeted by winds and storms?  Does it help to know that you’re not alone?

Clearly this week it would be hard not to be focused on Hurricane Florence, the devastating effect it has already had on thousands of people, and the potential for more damage, more downpours, more wind in the days to come.  As people evacuated their homes this week, I’m sure there was trepidation – would they every see their home again? Would it remain safe? Where would they go? How would they provide for their needs?  Honestly, I can’t imagine – perhaps you feel the same.  And so, our thoughts go with all who are in the path of Hurricane Florence, that they will be safe, and that their properties will remain secure and intact.

But I’ve also been thinking about the ‘hurricanes’ in our lives… well, at least in mine, but I’m guessing that you’ve faced a storm or two, perhaps you’re in the throes of one right now.  And I’ve pondered, but then you likely already know that about me!  First, wouldn’t it be great to have advanced notice when a ‘life storm’ is going to occur?  Would it really?  Think about it – what would you do, or what would you change if you knew in advance that some type of crisis was going to hit your world?  Perhaps, just perhaps, we’re better to not know – to just live our lives as safely and securely as possible.  Maybe we’ll be better prepared for those ‘storms’ – maybe not.  So, let’s assume that we’re not as prepared as we hoped we’d be when a ‘storm’ comes our way – what then?  Is panic helpful?  Denial?  Worry?  Being frozen in fear?  No… although I certainly know from experience that those are all very normal reactions, we also have all likely learned that none of those emotions are helpful.  Better that we be respond with will power, planning and action – with a commitment that we can, we will, get through this storm.  Please don’t assume that that’s easy – worry is inevitable, panic is likely.  But we can still move forward, turning our fear into action.  I’ve wondered, what would it be like if I could ‘evacuate’ when a storm approaches?  But what are your thoughts – although this example falls a little short right now because anyone in the line of a weather-related storm really needs to evacuate – isn’t it okay to sometimes just ‘hunker down’ and survive during a crisis in our lives?  Just stop, take a deep breath, relax (if possible!) and know that you’re safe, and you’ll survive.  I don’t know – I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts on that!

So what else?  Well, as I’ve visually been overwhelmed by the damage being done by Hurricane Florence, so it may be with us as a result of our ‘life storms’.  There may be damage.  There may be loss. It may even be devastating.  Life is not always easy, yes?  So, what then?  For me, I’m always inspired when I see that when thousands of people are hurting, thousands more are reaching out to help.  How awesome is it to see neighbors reaching out – perhaps literally – to help another in need.  Not only after the storm, but sometimes right in the midst of it.  And so it can be for us.  If you’re not in a ‘life storm’ right now, I’m guessing you know someone who is… how can you reach out to help.  And, if it’s us that are ‘in the storm’, let’s be willing to accept the gracious and kind generosity offered – by our family, our friends, our neighbors and perhaps even complete strangers.  I’ve learned – and perhaps you have as well – that accepting kindness turns darkness into light, turns sadness into hope, turns pain into strength to survive.

So, how about it?  What am I going to do when a ‘storm’ collapses in on me?  Listen to some thoughts from others…  First, the Greek Philosopher, Epictetus, said, “The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputations from storms and tempests.”  And Louisa May Alcott wrote, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.”  Is it then, a good learning experience, to face and conquer an occasional ‘life storm’?  Me thinks, perhaps, that it is, but I’ll also look forward to your thoughts about this.

My thoughts and prayers go with each person being affected by Hurricane Florence – may the storms end quickly, may all be safe, may the damage be minimal, may we all rise up to lend a hand.  And for those ‘life storms’?  Once again… may we all be safe, may the damage to our spirits be minimal, may we accept the gracious offers of help, may we return the favor to others in need.

Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of well-known evangelist, Billy Graham, wrote, “When the storms of life come, if they come to me personally, to my family or to the world, I want to be strong enough to stand and be a strength and shelter for someone else.”  May we offer that same commitment to each other.

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