So, in case you hadn’t heard, Hurricane Irma paid us a visit last month. Only shortly after Hurricane Harvey made a devastating visit to our friends in Texas.
Plain and simple. Storms are a part of life, literally and figuratively.
Now, I could write for days on how to prepare for a literal storm, since I just spent hours and hour researching about what we needed to do in preparation for Irma. But I feel called to focus on the figurative storms in life. The ones that have nothing to do with “mother nature” and everything to do with our heart.
How can we be prepared for the storms of life?
Is it even possible to be prepared for a storm when you feel blindsided by one? I believe it is possible.
So, here are three questions to ask yourself in order to see if you are prepared for a storm:
1. Where is God?
Is He the center of your life? Is He the one you turn to when things go wrong? Are you making decisions in your life based on what He tells you through the Bible?
Be honest with yourself. You are not preparing yourself well by fooling yourself. If you are a Christian, you “know” the right thing to say here. But is is a fact in your life?
Or is God being placed lower and lower on your priority list? Are you having to remind yourself to spend time with Him, only to find at the end of a long day that you “couldn’t find time.”
When your relationship with God is solid, that is a firm foundation that no storm can destroy.
Having God placed at the center of your life is VITAL to being well-prepared for a storm.
2. Where are you?
Look around you. Are you in a “good place?” When I am not doing well mentally, I will say to Steve, “I am not in a good place.” What I mean is that something is off…something in my life is causing everything to falter.
So, where should you be? What is a “good place?” Well, that is different for each of us. I will dare to say that much of my good place depends on the answer to my first question, Where is God?, in my life. But there are other factors, too. Is there a sour relationship occurring? Do I have work piled up that I have ignored or been too busy to get to? Have my husband and I had quality time together? Is my time being spent wisely? Am I surrounding myself with like-minded, godly people? Do I feel mentored as a parent or wife or ministry leader? Do I have people in my life that I trust and am accountable to? Am I enjoying life, truly enjoying it? Are my healthy desires being met? Am I achieving goals? The list goes on and on.
Think of it this way…if you are going to have to stay in one place for an extended period of time while a storm rages outside, you want it to be a nice spot. No one wants to hole up in the gas station bathroom during a storm. Ick. We’d all prefer to be in a comfortable home, preferably with a huge generator and a stocked pantry. It changes how you experience the storm.
Where YOU are–good place or not so good place–changes how you experience the storm.
Don’t stay in the “gas station bathroom” place. Make the changes necessary in order to be in the fully stocked comfortable home when that storm hits.
3. Are you ready to do what it takes?
This is huge, friends. Are you ready to truly do what it takes to not only make it through the storm, but thrive in the middle of it? This takes grit and determination. It takes humility and grace. It usually requires forgiveness and sacrifice. It always requires faith.
The answer to this question is also dependent on the answer to question #1 and even question #2. With God, all things are possible. Without God, it’s super hard and even impossible. And if you are in a bad place BEFORE the storm, it’s even more difficult to rally strength and perseverance once the storm hits.
When a storm comes, there is so much to focus on. You need to brace yourself, expect the unexpected, protect yourself from danger, protect others around you, and so on. Then after the storm, the focus is different but still all-consuming. So, though you may be tempted to do a quick clean-up and move on, I encourage you to stay focused on the details of the storm and what it takes to completely heal, live well and even be better than you were before the storm.
Doing what it takes requires focus and sacrifice.
When preparing for Irma, my usual schedule went out the window. I couldn’t possibly focus on all my normal daily tasks while also taking on the added stress of preparing our family for what could have been a catastrophic storm. Don’t get me wrong, I did the things that HAD to get done, but any extras or those items that weren’t necessary were removed.
The same thing applies with a figurative storm. You have to dig your heels in and hyper-focus on the task at hand. You can’t expect to keep status quo on all the other areas of your life while you are trying to battle an enemy in one area.
We speak to couples in crisis a lot. And we have experienced many couples that have a difficult time accepting that repairing damage in a marriage requires sacrificing in other areas of life. In this day and age, we are all so busy and lives are filled with schedules and appointments and tasks and jobs and lists and this and that. Something has to give, friends!
And sometimes it’s the things you really like or the things your kids really like. If your marriage counseling sessions are scheduled during baseball practice, then it might be that your child needs to skip this season. Or maybe you need to step down from that leadership team while you sort out a family crisis. Maybe your spouse needs to change jobs in order to be home more while you battle an illness. You cannot continue at your usual pace and with your usual priorities while a storm is wreaking havoc on your life. You just can’t.
I know of a couple that sold their beautiful home and moved their family of five to a small apartment in order to reduce their spending so they could get out of debt. It is a big sacrifice for their entire family. But the sacrifice is nothing compared to the peace they are experiencing in the decision to rid themselves of the weight of financial burden.
Prioritize. Be ready to do what it takes.
God will lead you. The Holy Spirit will prompt you to what needs to go or stay. Listen to Him! Lean NOT on your own understanding, but in ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6, my emphasis)
In the storms of life, we need to:
1. Keep God at the center.
2. Create a life of peace, love and joy.
3. Be prepared to prioritize and sacrifice.
Hurricane Irma was the largest hurricane in recorded U.S. history. But I felt safe. I trusted God and His plan for me. I was in a “good place” where there was no room for fear. And I was prepared for extreme sacrifice. May it be so in the next storms in my life…and yours.