How to ride out the perfect storm when you’re feeling imperfect

The storm had been brewing all day but we hadn’t paid attention; it was Labor Day weekend and the family had gathered for a barbecue. We rented a movie for the kids, Roger threw the burgers on the grill, and the downpour started. I held the umbrella so he could finish cooking.

After we dried off, we ate and settled down to watch the movie. Fifteen minutes into it, the rain turned into a deluge, lightning cracked too close and we lost the cable. Another crash and we were in the dark. I had candles, but that flickering light did little to comfort my 16-year-old granddaughter who was lost without a connected internet. The withdrawal was painful to watch.

 

The fingers of God

 

The darkness was a novelty for the little ones.  I suggested we play a word game (imagine that) and we took turns thinking of really cool words.

“Obstreperous!” I chimed out, when it was my turn. They were good sports for about five minutes until we all decided what we really needed was dessert if we were to weather the storm for much longer. Alas, grandma’s cupboard was bare.

Suddenly nothing but chocolate would do and the conversation turned to the decadence of my chocolate mousse recipe. Finally my daughter couldn’t take it anymore and since the rain had let up a bit, she announced she was going home to make some hot chocolate.

“How exactly are you going to do that, without electricity?” I asked sweetly.  Deflated but determined, she gathered up the kids and ran home in the rain, hoping that plain old chocolate milk would satisfy the craving.

She texted me later that night after realizing how ill-prepared she was: no candles, her phone wasn’t charged, and she was out of milk.

Beth Moore says this about storms:

 

Whatever we’re going through we really do get to be a part of whether or not it will be a destructive storm or a perfect storm. Click To Tweet

 

I would add this:

Preparation is everything

 

HOw do you prepare for storms

 

As I reflected on the event, small as far as storms go here in North Carolina, I realized our reactions were typical of what most of us do when a storm hits:

 

  • We ignored the signs
  • We sought distraction
  • We craved comfort
  • We couldn’t wait for things to be normal

 

Our responses also corresponded to the way we react to the storms of life, depending on our level of spiritual maturity.

 

To the little ones, it was a novelty.

Remember when you were young in the faith? Every trial was exciting because you couldn’t wait to see what God would do!

 

To the teenagers, it was a disaster.

As we get older, we get used to our creature comforts and less flexible with change.

 

To the adults, it was just another storm.

It’s still hard but hopefully, we’ve learned from experience, “this too shall pass.”

 

What do you do when life’s storms come?

 

When you’ve lost power and there’s no chocolate in your pocket to see you through? Argghh.

How do you cope? What (who) do you reach for? It’s one thing to wait out a storm, its another altogether when you lose power.

 

When you have to rely on an external power source, you realize how dependent you are on your own Click To Tweet

 

K.D. Lang sings a song called “Constant Craving” and the repeating lyric is, “Constant Craving has always been.” I never realized how constantly I craved power and control until I lost both.

 

Power and Control

 

Along with chocolate, those are my constant cravings –take them away and the ugly withdrawal process begins. Interesting that I chose obstreperous as my word during the storm game; I’ve just always liked the sound of it, but didn’t really know until I looked it up today that it means noisy and difficult to control. Exaaactly. I get really noisy when my life spins out of my control.

 

Ever wonder why storms leave some people washed up on the shore while others are out scouring the beach, cleaning up debris and looking for other survivors?

 

 

I think it has to do with expectations. Survivors accept and understand that storms are part of life in our fallen world. So, when the storm causes a tree limb to fall through the roof and the new, pristine white carpet is ruined, what good does it do to react obstreperously? To believe God is out to get me or to wonder why bad stuff always happens to me?

 

Do you take storms personally, as if they’re custom made in heaven just for you? (Asking for a friend). I spent years worrying and wringing my hands, just waiting for that limb to fall. Sometimes I got what I worried about, but most of the time I didn’t and even when that limb came crashing down, well, I survived.  

 

The storm isn't the point; it's how you weather the storm. Click To Tweet

 

Preparation is key to survival

 

Safe in the storm

 

The verb form of the word “weather” means to come through safely. Do you believe you’ll come through safely?

The etymology is interesting, too:The ancient Greeks had words for “good weather” and words for “storm” and “winter,” but there was no generic word for “weather” until kairos (literally “time”) began to be used. The Latin tempestas “weather” (tempest) also originally meant “time.”

Give it enough time and even a tempest will become temperate. With God’s grace, you will weather your storm; you will come through safely, given enough time. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… Eccl 3:1

 

 

The best way to prepare for storms is to simply accept the fact that sooner or later, in each life, “some rain must fall.”

Storms are normal. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Rainy Day reminds us of that fact:

 

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;

Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.

 

What about when the storm lingers? Or the aftermath is devastating?

 

What do you do when the roof falls in?

 

I’m right here learning this stuff with you, friends. Just yesterday after reading John 5:1-18, I wrote these words in my journal:

 

I desperately need this restoration and I long for it to be just as miraculous as the miracle Jesus performed for the crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda. How I long to be singled out like that, ache for Jesus to remember me, to recognize how hard I’ve tried to embrace this storm. To not be bitter. To not live in shame. To practice gratitude to the point that I become a grateful woman. I AM grateful. But I’m still waiting. I long to shout from the housetops, “Look what the Lord has done! What a mighty God I serve!”

I know that if the Father delays long over me, it’s not because He’s mad at me. It’s not because He favors someone else over me or because there’s not enough to go around. I know He delights in me.

 

His delay is my delight

 

That entry was written in the morning. By bedtime I was in the middle of a personal pity party and the Lord had to remind me of those last five words: His delay is my delight. I argued that I’d been highly caffeinated when I wrote them.

“No,” he said. “You were in the Spirit.” 

Friends, if your storm clouds seem like they’ll never end, remember this:

 

God’s coming in that cloud

 

Let the delay determine how you pray. Grab my hands:

 

Lord, help us prepare for and weather our storms with grace, dignity and thankful hearts. Keep bitterness at bay. Remind us to reach for you and not for the things our flesh craves. Help us to trust your provision and your timing.

 

The Lord is my shelter

In a storm? Let me know how I can pray for you!

 

 

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