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Surviving Storms

“And the chance of rain and thunderstorms are 90% tomorrow…” is a forecast that has most of us living in the Atlanta area simply cringing – because that means our “normal” commutes are going to be flushed down the sewer with all the other refuse of the day. In fact, a common joke is that even a threat of rain sends folks scurrying home, filling the interstates and back-roads to boot. And don’t even hint at the possibility of snow, otherwise there won’t be a roll of toilet paper or loaf of bread to be had anywhere. Storms create conditions that are very difficult to drive in – and I don’t just mean drive automobiles. The storms of life can be just as harrowing, if not more so, than a level V Hurricane (Irene, & Andrew to name a few) to get through. Yet there can be benefits that range much farther than we ever thought possible.

Weather experts ( say that there are 5 benefits to even the deadliest of hurricanes: 1. They bring rainfall to areas that need it. Yes, sometimes it is way more than one place can manage at once, however other areas wouldn’t get ANY rainfall at all without them. 2. They break up the bacteria in a red tide. This allows the cultures to be redistributed so that they aren’t as harmful. 3. Hurricanes provide a global heat balance. The equator gets more than its fair share of heat from the sun. These massive storms change the temperatures in waters all over the world, like a world wide recycler. 4. Replenish barrier islands. Normal erosion can change a landscape until some islands simply disappear. Hurricanes bring sand and mud back to these barrier islands that keep them active 5. Replenish plant life. The winds of a hurricane can throw seedlings thousands of miles inland, allowing new growth for some species. In addition, the devastation of an area can provide needed firebreaks in the land that prevent the spread of forest fires. It clears out old growth and gives new plants buried until old falls the chance to proliferate.

Not to be outdone, we psych “experts” will also contend that there are benefits to the storms of our lives, even if or especially when, they are not of our choosing. 1. Sometimes storms bring necessary change to our lives. Perhaps, our personal Andrew can be the loss of a loved one – and that change propels us to make a difference, to take a stand. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) was born in 1980 out of this type storm. One friend lost her 18 year old son to a drug laced with fentanyl leading her to became a spokeswoman against the drug, educating thousands of people, & probably saving a few lives in the process. Another friend lost her brother to suicide, & is now an advocate to help others learn better ways to cope with life to prevent death from depression & other mental illnesses. 2. Life storms can remix some of the elements in our lives. Perhaps a divorce keeps a woman from being abused & then is able to reunite with her family whom the abuser had alienated. Losing a job in one arena can lead to a whole new career in another. 3. Emotional hurricanes can produce inner strengths that we never knew we had. We might be lukewarm on one side of a problem & the temperature can flip to boiling or even stone cold depending upon the “type” of “waters” we’re dealing with. As my son was growing up, I learned more & more about Autism Spectrum Disorders. In order to fight for him at school, I had to know what I was talking about & be able to stand for him when others couldn’t or wouldn’t. 4. Storms can help replenish the “islands” of our lives. Perhaps there’s an old dream locked away inside a rickety bureau. Maybe we have an idea of hope that we want to share with others. My career change to become a counselor looks like it came out of the blue, yet the story is much more about building up the “island” of my profession in my mind and life first. 5. Finally our “home storms” provide for life to continue beyond the reach of that stretch of devastation. For all storms, whether they be personal or professional or even pyrotechnic in nature, eventually have an end. And when we reach that point, we can begin again. This time, we’ll have a brand new shining stretch of sand to play in.

Do you know another great thing about storms? They produce rainbows, one of the most beautiful phenomena known to exist. Who doesn't gasp when we see one? I do every time. Rainbows also are a reminder of the promise of God’s care which brings hope to those whose lives feel dark. And I think we can all use a little more color and hope in the world.

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