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Ridin' the Storm Out

On Sept 12, Dean & I headed to his mom’s house on the Texas coast with one thing in mind…her upcoming knee surgery. Dean was taking her to Corpus Christi for the procedure, and I was house- and dog-sitting. I was looking forward to a couple of days of solitude to work on several ideas I had for my blog.

Life doesn’t always go as planned.

On the drive to Mom’s house, we learned that Tropical Storm Nicholas was heading her way. (We had not checked the weather.) After much research and discussion, and the fact that the surgeon’s office didn’t cancel her procedure, we decided it would be okay for me to stay at the house through the storm (with the option of buggin’ out if need be).

I must admit it was kind of exciting! We’ve had Derek & Kate and my sister & brother-in-law in Florida for years. We were used to keeping track of storms heading their way and checking on them. They had fared well, so this was my chance to experience the forces of nature firsthand! Dean & Mom headed for Corpus, and I spent the rest of Monday securing the last few things that might blow away, cleaned the house, and waited. Wind and rain? No problem! Power out? No problem! Kacee and I were ready!

As the storm approached that evening, I had a fun realization…I was ridin’ the storm out. I laughed, because during our freshman year of college, Dean and I met when he asked me to dance to REO Speedwagon’s “Ridin’ the Storm Out”. 41 years later, here I was, doing it for real!

Nicholas turned into a hurricane just as it passed over us, but Mom’s house is situated well in a secluded area protected by brushy boundaries. There was no structural damage…just a few broken trees and tree limbs and LOTS of small ones. Driving around town the next morning to see the damage to other buildings (mostly boat sheds, roofs and trees) revealed how fortunate we were. It took me two full days, but I got the front yard (which is huge) and pool cleaned and the brush either hauled away or piled and ready for pick up before Dean & Mom came home from the hospital. I wanted her place to look good when they pulled into the driveway so that her homecoming would not be stressful, and she could focus on her recovery. It looked great.

This small fishing town had ridden the storm out with less damage than expected because people were prepared. Windows were shuddered, things were put inside or tied down to not blow away. The attitude was one of “bring it on” as they waited.

This is a valuable lesson for all of us. Life is not always sunshine and blue skies. We will each face a few storms. And these storms will have many different looks and severity. Preparing ourselves mentally and spiritually can make all the difference in how we handle them when they come.

Early Warnings

There are beginning signs that something is brewing. With weather it’s a change in barometric pressure, a small cloud bank that begins to grow, a change in the wind or temperature. You recognize the signs and know to check out what’s coming so you can prepare.

In life, the signs are varied – it may be a small physical challenge that prompts you to get checked out by a doctor. Or it may be a loved one doing things alien to their normal personality which hints at an emotional storm beginning to stir within. A spouse may show signs of distress more than usual or become withdrawn because they are wrestling with a financial setback of which you are yet unaware. Keeping your eyes, ears and heart open to detect early signs may help you prepare for or possibly avoid what is heading your way. If the storm comes without you catching the signs, look back…hindsight really is 20/20.

Mindsets matter

We’ve all been through life’s storms – some more than others, some more serious than it seems humanly possible to endure. Dean and I have faced more than we’d like, but we are keenly aware that there are many who have had to face more and worse storms than we have. We watch and learn from others and see how the mindset they have toward life in general can affect the outcome of the storm. Some rise to the occasion and face their storm with determination and grit. They begin with and keep a positive attitude and an expectation that everything will be okay. Others try to ignore the signs that something is coming. They let fear blind them and fail to prepare themselves. Some unfortunately implode, letting the worry and stress of their situation and what may happen plunge them into despair. This tends to paralyze and make dealing with it seem impossible.

Being Prepared

We have learned some simple truths – through personal experience and observation of others – that have helped us through our worst storms. Knowing them helps us be prepared mentally, emotionally, and relationally for whatever life throws at us.

God is in control. In every situation, God is in control. That doesn’t mean He is causing the storm but is allowing us to go through it. When we trust that He is sovereign and can bring good out of any circumstance, we draw strength from knowing He is with us and that we can endure anything with His help.

Together, we can survive anything. In the past, I have tried to handle problems on my own…it’s a prideful thing to do and does not usually work as well as when I share my concerns with Dean and we face it together. We are a team; being able to lean on each other gives us a multiplied strength. We ask Jesus to guide us and give us grace and wisdom to endure the struggle. He always comes through.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Develop an attitude of gratitude. When going through a storm, it’s very easy to look around and see only the bad stuff. The enemy wants nothing more than for me to be blinded by the hurt or anger I’m feeling and let those clouds obscure my view of God holding me. He wants me to feel alone. But if I purposefully maintain a positive attitude and look for things to be thankful for, regardless of how small they may be, it helps me push through those clouds and get through that day. It is much easier to “take heart” and be able to handle the troubles I’m facing when I choose to be grateful.

You are Not Alone. It is truly amazing how, when going through a difficult situation, I start out feeling so alone and think that no one can understand the depths of my pain. Like I said, that’s what the enemy wants. But then people come out of the woodwork…many of whom are total strangers…and I learn that I’m not alone in dealing with that storm. It happens every time! I know God is watching over me, because He puts people in my path to prove that there are others who have dealt with or are currently dealing with the same issue. It is comforting to realize others have “been there, done that” before me and survived! And thrived!

No one is immune. The Bible is full of stories of people facing storms in their life. Here are two examples that show us how to respond. The first is King David. I love how transparent he is through his psalms and how they reveal his emotions. He praised God (happy, joyful); he pleaded with God to do away with his enemies (anger, fear, anxiety); he begged for forgiveness of his sins (guilt); he marveled at God’s sovereignty (humility, awe). Yet at the core of his spiritual being, he was firmly anchored in God. When David was in the middle of a storm, he didn’t stay on the surface of the stormy waters, being bounced around in the wind and waves. Rather, he clung to his faith in God, the anchor of his heart, secured firmly within the still waters found in the depths of God’s love.

The second example is David’s son, King Solomon. Solomon was wise. (His writings of wisdom are so relevant, many people read a chapter of Proverbs every day, going through the book fully each month.) In the Songs of Solomon, life and love are all wonderful. The pendulum of his emotions had swung far to the positive side. But even wise King Solomon faced storms, and in the book of Ecclesiastes, he writes about his search for the meaning of life. It is not in luxurious things, wealth, labor, or anything “human”. Here his emotional pendulum has swung to the negative side. But in the end, he determines that true meaning in life only comes from having a relationship with God, and his pendulum rests peacefully in the center of God’s being.

The lesson I glean from these is that with God, all things are possible, especially getting through a storm of life…whether it’s an afternoon thunderstorm, a devastating tornado, a blizzard, or a hurricane. Make God the central, grounding relationship in your life. Prepare you heart and mind with God’s truths and know that He will never give you more than you can handle. Then keep an eye out for the warning signs and face what comes with God beside you. He is always there.

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