There is no shortage of heartache and fear in this world. It comes in different degrees and measured individually. A week ago the debilitating fear of one that seemed unreasonable to me was not so unreasonable after Hurricane Irma. It is what 56 plus hours of storm news coverage can do to a person. Add to that, restless sleep, poor diet, too much caffeine, and I had created the perfect recipe for my own fear.
Let me go back to Labor Day weekend when I knew there was a storm out there in the Atlantic but wasn’t really paying attention, to waking up Tuesday morning for work and the entire area was on close hurricane watch and preparing for the worst. Was it really going to be that bad or had Harvey and what happened to Houston create a fresh urgency in the community? Did we have enough water, gas, peanut butter, flashlights, batteries, ice? I needed a full tank of gas to get to work that week, no problem, but by Wednesday, the neighborhood station had run out of gas. It was the first time I sat in line for gas since the oil crisis of the 70’s.
Friday, people in the area began planning their evacuations. Offices closed down early and emergency teams set in motion. Who could focus, I couldn’t. I began viewing every weather alert on my phone and receiving emails and text from family and friends asking, “Hey, how close are you guys?” “Are you evacuating?” “Boarding up and leaving, or boarding up and hunkering down?.” (Side note: No one wants to hear the words “hunker down” ever again!) I replied calmly, “Yes it’s a big storm, if it goes east we will be okay, if it goes west, we are in a little more trouble.” “It’s looking dicey. ” “We have to wait and see.” “Don’t worry, we are prepared.” Besides, I was watching the storm. Was I ever.
Saturday morning my own fear hit. I felt as if I was coming out of my own skin. I had tossed and turned and looked at my phone many times throughout the night. At 4:30 am I gave up and turned on the news. Irma had changed course again. What we thought may turn it to the east had done just the opposite and I was looking at a picture of a storm heading right for us that would cover my entire state. I felt fear. Our roof is 20 years old. I had all the supplies I needed but I didn’t have a bag packed if the roof blew off. What about when it hit the Keys or Miami, what would happen to them? I began crying and woke my husband telling him I was afraid. Before Irma, I’d had boasted nothing scares me. I cant say that anymore. At 6:40 am it was time to practice what I preached. I needed to pull myself together not on my own but with God. I needed His strength, I had none of my own, my brain was a scramble, my thoughts running wild as my anxiety amplified.
I love my Bible app, it has tools that I use often. I can search a topic and scriptures pop up. I searched fear. As I prayed and worked on getting myself together, my search brought up Psalms 56: 3-4 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? This was the Word I needed to regroup. I’m no Biblical scholar, simple, practical, that’s how I see my faith. It works for me. I no longer feel the need to justify or prove Him to anyone. Jesus is my savior. I don’t have to argue my faith. It’s what I have, who I am, and it is working. I don’t have to see it for it to be real, faith is enough and His living word brings me life.
God’s peace, daylight, and a packed bag, grounded me and put my head back on straight for the rest of the storm. I still had the stress, the anxiousness that comes from an emergency like this but I was working through it. Neighbors were out making sure everyone had what they needed and knew we could go to each other day or night. I was preparing for some house guests who lived in an evacuation zone and posting updates on Facebook. We would get through this and we did.
Saturday a week later the fear is gone. I find myself thinking of other things. Thankful I was hardly effected by Irma and yet guilty for bemoaning I’m not able to buy a banana and Starbucks only had soy milk for my ridiculous drink, while people in the Keys don’t have the basics of running water, electricity, and food. Some don’t even have roofs over their heads. I’m having a hard time shaking the stress from the previous week. The news coverage isn’t 24/7 but the lead stories are still Irma. I have so many whys? Why them and not us? When will South Florida recover? How will this change them? How will it change me? How is the recovery in Houston going? Did they get all their power back before Irma brought all the linemen to Florida? What happened to Mexico and those injured and killed after the 8.1 earthquake a week ago? Questions go on and on in my mind. I’m still searching for the answers.
I don’t have any catchy conclusion to this post, I can’t find one. I have more questions than answers. What I will do: I’ll pray, keep the faith, help a neighbor, smile at a stranger, skip that Starbucks, find out about Mexico and Houston, see a friend.