When my daughter was eight-years-old, she was inexplicably terrified our peninsula state would be hit by a tsunami. I tried to allay her fears with the fact that tsunamis don’t general hit Florida and that our greatest natural disaster is, of course, the hurricane, which in some ways is just as bad—ask anybody whose been through a Category 4 or 5.

From Orlando, we survived the 2004 Hurricane Train of Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, four storms that blew Florida and my roof apart. I also survived the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but the house we were living in was trashed including my brand new bedroom set (a wedding gift from my mother), a $250 boombox, and $600 in Mary Kay sales inventory.

Hurricanes vs. Tornadoes

All this started me thinking about the “storms” in life. Some are like tornadoes that sneak up on us and railroad through the center of our lives thrashing some areas and leaving others untouched.  Hurricanes are storms that build over time. You can see them coming and even get prepared. But you’re never ready for their destructive power and, depending on their strength, they can leave nothing standing in their wake.

Emotionally and spiritually, I’ve been hit by both of these. Many empty nesters can attest to the six-year “hurricane” of their children’s pubescent years. If you’re over 30, you know that adolescence was a sun shower compared to the monsoons of adulthood. And if you had no one to huddle with in the worst of the storms—no “saferoom” to protect you from its battering—the emotional trauma you sustained leaves festering and superficially covered wounds.

In the Safe Room

I am so grateful for the safe room of God and dear friends who I had when my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died six months later, when I discovered my first son (Aiden) had congenital birth defects and wouldn’t survive, when I found out my second son (Tristan) had autism, and especially when my husband and I separated.

I hate pain.  Having given birth to four babies, I can say there is little that compares to the excruciating pain of labor. But I would gladly birth a dozen more children than relive some of the emotional pain I’ve endured. Labor is quick, intense, and builds to a dramatic conclusion. Emotional pain can hold us hostage for months and years and leave us lingering in a no man’s land.

Weathering the Storm

We can’t prevent storms. They’re relentless. But we can prepare for them.

Planning my hurricane supply list means getting my heart ready by spending quality time with God each day.  Boarding up my windows translates into turning my eyes to Him in prayer when I first catch wind of the storm coming. Securing anything that isn’t tied down means avoiding the launching of emotional missiles that can take out my friends and neighbors when the wind kicks up.  And moving into my safe room and locking the doors means I open up the Word, lock out Satan and his constant barrage, and sit tight, waiting on God to safely deliver me.

That last one is hardest. Sitting (while the wind rattles my windows). Waiting (while debris hammers my walls). Trusting (while rain pounds on my roof).

It’s there, huddled in my safe room, where I can admit that my paltry experience with gales, whirlwinds, and tempests leaves me powerless. Only one person could stand in the heart of any storm and—by sheer will—bring it to its knees. And it sure isn’t me.