What I Learned from Hurricane Delta
from Abby: Last week, I had a lot of anxiety. From the outside, you wouldn’t know it was really affecting me. I carried on with my day and my work, really throwing myself into overdrive. All of sudden, things like “cleaning the kitchen light fixture” and “cleaning out every drawer in the house” hopped onto my to-do list as seemingly very important and necessary to complete in the week. It resulted in me trying to get more done in the day than humanly possible, becoming more strung out than before, and still dealing with the unknowns of the dang hurricane as we waited and waited to see where it would make landfall along the Louisiana coastline. One day, it just hit me: Abby, you’re really anxious. Even from when I was little, I enjoyed plotting and tracking hurricanes. The concept of a hurricane was intriguing to me. As a kid, I remember being excited for “hurricane parties“ where we’d have days off of school and we'd spend time together as a family. We'd pick up branches in the yard and cook everything in the freezer. Living in south Louisiana, it’s common to experience the wrath of these storms passing through the Gulf of Mexico each year, knocking out our electricity and putting our regular lives on pause for awhile. You can almost say we anticipate this, and so in fact, have become more “prepared” for each hurricane season. However, now that I am older with “adult responsibilities“- mainly keeping myself and other humans safe, sheltered, and alive - hurricanes make me worried and afraid more than anything. Will we be safe inside our house? Will we have everything we need for the kids? Will we lose power? Can we recover from the lost? I had been praying that we in southeast Louisiana would be spared from Hurricane Delta and those prayers were answered with the track moving ever so slightly west. It brought my anxiety down a notch, but I still couldn’t help but think that each shift to the left meant that someone else was now in greater harms way. Someone with similar responsibilities as me. Someone else’s family. Someone else’s home. Someone else’s work. On Thursday, I woke up after having a dream about a major hurricane. It was the size of the United States, approaching the Gulf. It sounds funny now, but in the dream it was far from it. Everyone would be affected. No one would be “spared” from the dark red bands of this enormous storm. It was from that dream that I realized, none of us are truly spared, even if the track moves more west of us or to the east of us. Our homes may be safe, but our hearts hurt with and for the people who do suffer from loss or damage to their property, the people who are uprooted from their homes and jobs and all that is familiar to them. In Scripture we read that, “we are all apart of one body,” and when part of the body is hurting, the rest of the body feels and experiences the effects of it, too (1 Corinthians 12:26). So where does that leave us? What do we do? Where’s the hope? For me, it was a reminder to root myself back in my Father who always protects, who always provides the security I seek, and who has a plan for my welfare (for all of our welfare) even when I fail to recognize it...even when my focus shifts away from Him and onto all that’s going “wrong” in the world. I make a conscience effort to return to Him, to offer up my anxiety for others, to reject the attachments I experience toward this life and toward things that are really just passing away, and to extend love to others through whatever means of support I can offer. Living the Christian life does not mean we will live a life without struggle or anxiety. It’s quite the opposite. So what do we do when we are inevitably faced with struggle and anxiety? We hang on. We trust. We have hope that the struggle will end and ultimate joy will come. A joy that no one or no thing can take from us. In the gospel of John, we read,
“When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. ...I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (21-23,33). Maybe hurricanes don’t give you anxiety like me, but if there’s some individual struggle that’s got you down and despairing, don’t lose hope. You’re not alone. Turn to the Father with it. Ask that He send his Holy Spirit to help guide you through it. Trust that Jesus has “conquered the world” and wants to give you peace. Together, let’s put ourselves in a place to receive it.