The impending hurricane left me with no choice but to contemplate the probable possibility that our new house and everything we owned would be flooded under 10 feet of nasty water. All of our possessions would mold before we even had a chance at salvaging anything. Can you imagine? If you live in Florida, you imagined this along with me during the week that led up to Irma. But looking back on it, I've realized some things I'd like to share. I can't imagine what it's like to lose everything, but I saw a small glimpse of that this past week.
Lessons learned from the storm:
People > Stuff
I have a lot of stuff. Stuff I don't need. Stuff I don't use. Stuff that distracts me, yet I still cling to it. When I thought about packing only what could fit in my car, I really regretted having a shoecase...just for my high heels. How frivolous it seems to have all this. Do I think I'm Beyonce?! What normal person needs that many heels?! And quite honestly, a few of them have never been worn. They were just bought when I was shopping to pacify my emotions about other problems...and those problems were still there after I took the shoes home. Ugh! (This is going to be a very honest post, uncomfortably so.)
So rather than let all these clothes and canned goods collect dust, I'm going to sort through my closet and pantry and remove all the things that I thumb through all the time. This week, I'm going to donate gently used items, and I'm thrilled about it! If stuff has been bogging you down - physically and mentally - I ask that you consider doing the same. It'll be good for your home, your mind, and your community. Can't beat that!
2. Prudence > Panic
There's some meme floating around that reads:
News: It's a category 5 hurricane Floridians: Grab a beer. It'll pass
That is the attitude of a lot of locals. Hurricane threats happen allll the time. Luckily, Harvey scared us a little and we started taking hurricanes seriously again. By the time I got to the grocery store, 5 days before Irma, they were out of water. And I had to drive to 3 gas stations to find gas. Faced with the reality of a pending hurricane, I realized, I've never ever faced the reality of a pending hurricane. And that's a problem. I need to be more prepared for hurricane season. If I stick around, at least keep my family safe. If I leave, do what I can to protect our possessions. Either way, before last week, I had no plan as to what to do in case of a hurricane. Since I'm a permanent Floridian, I need to wise up.
So in the coming few months, I will create a hurricane plan and an evacuation plan and review hurricane preparedness materials floating on the WWW. This will help keep us from panicking...every annual hurricane season. #worthit
3. Remember He who saves
With a storm coming, a million bajillion people say, post, and reiterate: "Please pray this storm won't hit us." But how often do you hear, "Praise God for saving us from this storm"? If God is the one you're asking to move the storm, don't forget about Him once the storm has passed. Everyone believes in God leading up to a storm, but who believes once the storm has passed.
I want to pray with the same fervor and faith despite the status of the storm.
And if you were hit by Harvey or any other storm or disaster, please remember that God saved your life. YOU are still here! There is hope, and that is something to praise Him for. People died in these disasters, but what a blessing that you are still here!!
4. Remember who you are
As I pondered losing every THING, I realized that it would be a huge mistake to think I've lost everything. Even if my house is a complete loss, I have not lost God. He is my everything. My identity is not wrapped up in my status as a home or car owner, my clothes and shoes, even in my ability to care for myself.
How tragic would it be to lose every THING and then lose yourself.
We have to remember who we are because of whose we are. We are God's workmanship, His favorite child, His masterpiece, His called and chosen ones. Regardless of what titles you presently or some day hold, your identity will never change. Your soul's identity is wholly found as God's child. Always, always remember that!
5. Become more compassionate
I may not have lost everything, but people around the globe lose everything all the time!
The frequency of natural (and man-made) disasters doesn't minimize the tragedy.
Besides when I'm suffering, am I aware of the suffering around the globe? Two weeks ago, Houston received the worst of Hurricane Harvey. My brother's house flooded, and I know people whose houses flooded up to the second floor. Their cars were a total loss. Their homes will take years to rebuild. But there is hope that we will rebuild and all will be restored. Luckily, in America we have savings accounts, quality insurance, the National Guard, FEMA, etc. But at the same time as Harvey, 1,200 people in South Asia died from flooding. ONE-THOUSAND AND TWO-HUNDRED. Can we even imagine how many people that is? We need to be aware that we are not the only ones living in this world. And many people around the world can't recover from a hurricane, typhoon, tsunami, etc. as quickly as we can. I can't imagine what the Caribbean islands are going through right now, but I can make myself aware and respond with compassion. Oftentimes for us in the highly-developed world, it takes being scared of losing everything to empathize with people who are suffering. My challange to myself and you is this: peruse the internet, be aware of human suffering globally, and take action to alleviate our global neighbors' suffering. I personally donate toWorld Vision, Compassion International, and Charity Water. I LOVE the work they are doing in local communities throughout the world. Find what rattles your heart, and go INVEST in it.
(I almost said "I'm a fan of..." but I'm not merely a fan, I'm invested. Don't sit on the sidelines and clap while other people are IN the game. Go invest!!!)
Bonus: most organizations send a monthly email/letter updating you about the community or child you are supporting. It's an awesome way to become more aware of the plight of people in places you've never experienced.
Whether or not you are in a storm right now, you will be one day. Whether it's a physical, life-threatening storm, or a storm in your life that feels like it could defeat your hope, you need to know truth in every season of life. I encourage you to seek truth in these ideas:
People > Stuff
Prudence > Panic
Remember He who saves
Remember your soul's identity
Become more compassionate