after the storm
A few weeks ago I shared this post with a few thoughts about when the rains turn into storms, inspired by weathering Hurricane Irma... I had some more thoughts and finally today I finally got around to publishing them here.
Today everything is pretty much back to normal. We never lost power during the storm, we didn't have any damage to our house or yard, not even stray branches to pick up or leaves to rake (the up-side of having a little backyard with no trees!!)
But this morning, on the way to pick up our carpool buddies, I drove past the hotel right off the interstate, the one that always fills up whenever there is an evacuation. I happened to glance over and I noticed that the parking lot was still nearly half-full and I thought about what that meant - all of the people who were still waiting for power to be restored to their homes - here in Georgia and also in Florida. Their lives are still, more or less, on pause while mine is returning to normal.
For me, this storm was a minor blip. A couple of extra days for my kids to be home from school. We even had a pretty great time together. While other moms were posting messages like "pass the wine" and "coffee coffee cofee coffee" I was honestly like "yeah, we could do another day" and even my kids, who usually cry when school is cancelled (yes, I have a couple of "those" kids) were saying "I want to stay home one more day!!"
For others though this storm was a major hit. Between this hurricane and the last one, there have been many lives lost, homes destroyed and for a lot of people life is not going to be "back to normal" for a very long time.
And in one way, I know how that feels. When I was walking through my own personal storm, when my husband walked away not just from our church but from the faith that had been the shared core of our entire relationship, there was instantly a rallying group of friends who walked with me through the initial hit. Eventually, their lives went back to normal, and they got busy with their own stress and drama. My life didn't go back to normal for a very very long time and that in between space - the space between when my grief was fresh and everyone knew about it, and when I was really okay again, that space was really lonely. I struggled to know to say "I'm still not okay. I know I'm standing here like a regular normal human being but my heart has been broken and I'm not okay yet."
If you feel like everyone has moved on, if that is you today - I just want to stop and send a virtual hug through time and space to you right where you are, whatever is going on. I'm sorry that this is so hard. I'm sorry that you are struggling so much and for so long. I'm sorry that this storm knocked you down. I know what that feels like. It's okay if you are not okay yet. I promise, you are not going to feel like this forever. Things really are going to get better - a quarter of an inch at a time. One day, you are going to be so surprised by how good you feel, and by how long it's been since you felt like you were at the very end of the end of your rope. Things really are going to get better. I also want to say to you that there really are people who love you out there. They are just a few words away. It's okay to send a text or a message to say "I just wanted to let you know how I am really doing." It's okay to need to just hang out with your friends and not talk about anything important, and it's okay to say "I really need to talk about this some more" even if you feel like maybe they think you have talked this to death. Your friends or your family, or whoever your support system is, they are way cooler than your inner critic gives them credit for. And I know how hard it is to speak up. I also know it is really really worth it.
If you have a friend who has been going through something and it's been awhile since you asked her how she is doing - words can't even begin to describe how meaningful it is simply to have someone reach out and ask "so how have you been doing lately?" If you're thinking about someone right this minute stop and send her a note, just say "hi! I was thinking about you. How are you doing?" She may or may not respond as openly as you wanted her to, or she may pour out more than you were bargaining for, either way, I promise it means a lot to her that you cared about her enough to reach out. It means so much every single time someone tells me that they have been thinking about me or that they have been remembering to pray for our family. I don't tell everyone everything, and sometimes the question "how are you doing?" is hard to answer because it can change from minute to minute and from day to day... but I deeply appreciate every person who takes even a moment to remember to express how much they care.
I have been trying to do this more, to send the message to say "I'm praying for you." I'm learning to stop worrying about if I have "the right" words or if the time is off. If I am thinking about someone I send a quick note to let them know it. I try to send that card with the verse that reminded me of my friend or I send a quick text to just say "I'm thinking about you!" Not everyone replies to my texts with anything more than a smiley face, but sometimes that little note has meant a lot. So I keep on listening to that quiet little voice and I keep on sending little drops of light out to my people.
Sometimes we feel like we have been run over by life, and we are walking around like roadkill. I've written a book about my experience, these are my "Confessions of a Roadkill Christian" and what I have learned along the way. If you'd like to get more information about my book as it becomes available please subscribe to my newsletter: