As I drove home there were rumblings of a storm brewing. Outside there was thunder, wind, flashes of lightning. All that. The storm blew in pretty quickly and the winds were blowing, the clouds were rolling on in, and drops were raining down. I walked outside on the covered porch to feel the winds. I tried to take a photo, but this shot is just about all I came up with…the wind was really moving those trees. Not a good photo at all, but you get my point…the wind was really blowing.
As the storm rolled in I was just arriving home from a full day. You may know the days…work, then meetings, then errands and phone calls and then home for a few minutes before you need to run on out again. So yeah, taking a little time to feel that fresh wind of the storm was good.
But the storm seemed to be over as quickly as it had come. I had hoped that the rain would stop before I had to run out again…and thankfully it did!
And it was cool the way the rain wash, wash, washed away so many things. (Pollen for one, thank goodness!) Everything looked so fresh and clean.
The greens looked greener.
What was grey and foggy and cloudy was now an emerging blue and white and bright light. Like it was new and fresh or something.
Storms can be like that. They can seem to come from out of nowhere and roll in and make you aware of little else than that current storm, and then, just blow on out and leave changes in their wake.
I saw a lot of storms all around me this week.
One storm was brewing in a sweet student I just adore. She’s a feisty little thing with a great sense of humor and wit. She gets my under-my-breath jokes and makes me laugh at funny stories when seen through her eyes. But I could see a storm brewing in that little one. All week. No, it wasn’t thunder or lightning that I saw, but all the signs were there that a storm was brewing.
But it wasn’t a quick storm. I wish it had been. No, it was a slow hanging out kind of storm that lingered and made everyone aware that it was there. And you know what made that storm pass? Talking to a trusted adult. Just letting it out. Kind of like a rain cloud that rains down and then has no more rain to pour. This student just needed to let it go. And then came…that bright light of a kid that had seriously been down and under the weather. Yeah, I loved seeing that storm pass…and was sure to tell her so.
Another storm was in brewing…in me. Not sure what was in the air this week, but it was an unusually tough week on all sides. Although I can play the ‘drill sergeant’ role at school, I normally don’t have to thankfully. But this week, there was a day when I had to do some serious rallying with a few of my students who were being unusually disruptive. I have a mix of students in my room and at the time when my drill sergeant mode kicked in, I had a wide array of needs from mere learning disabilities, to social and emotional disorders. A few of the students are on the autism spectrum, so I was well aware that drill sergeant mode could get some in order while terribly riling others up. It’s a fine tightrope walk some times.
So after I strongly reprimanded a few students like a rumbling storm coming on in, I apologized to those students who had been doing the right thing. I mean, me and my storm rained on the deserving and non-deserving, for sure. But here’s the thing. A very, very cool thing happened that encouraged me so deeply. A student who I have worked with for years said in her somewhat robotic voice, “No, Mrs. Halbert, you don’t need to apologize. No. It’s okay.”
Do you know why that meant the world to me? Because this sweet student says, “I’m sorry” ten times an hour. She apologizes for things she has no business apologizing for. And I’ve told her repeatedly for years, “there’s no need to apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong…” And to hear it from her for the first time ever after I was a storm cloud in my room was so encouraging. I do believe that it was necessary and needful to ‘rain’ a bit, and would do it again, but to hear this sweet student courageously speak up in front of the whole class (when she never does that), and encourage me…felt huge. It felt like the sun was shining through again after a storm.(Oh, and the other kids stepped up as well. Phew.)
Well, one more thing. You know how I said that I had to go somewhere after coming home and was hopeful that it wouldn’t rain? It wasn’t to a fun function. You see, as a special education teacher with so many students with behavioral needs, I’ve really been trying to learn a lot about mental health. (Honestly, not just as a special education teacher, but as a mom, as a wife, as a human..it’s been good for me to learn more about this important topic.) So, when a free showing of a movie about mental health issues was offered to our school system employees, well, I signed up to go. I went alone and wasn’t too excited about it. You see, the topic was suicide. I mean, it’s probably one of the toughest subjects there is. After the week I had, I pictured that I might just sit in there and feel like a blubbering rain cloud through the whole thing. ( I put extra kleenex in my purse. At least I was prepared.)
But I went. Alone. And watched. And took it all in. I was really glad I did.
And here’s the thing I want to say. Storms brew. And sometimes when they are brewing there’s damage that’s reparable. But sometimes the damage done leaves a wake in the lives of those who face it and they will never be the same. Sometimes what makes all the difference is how we respond to the storm. The man in the movie was in despair. He was facing a storm of his own that he felt he couldn’t overcome. And he jumped. He jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.
And as soon as he jumped, his instantaneous thought was “…I don’t want to die.” I don’t want to die. And here’s the cool, redemptive, beautiful part of the story. He didn’t. He didn’t die, and he’s now trying to extend a life line to those who have their own storms brewing that they feel they can’t face. He travels the world to help people know they are not alone in their storms and that there’s help. He travels to raise awareness about a topic that is so not in mainstream conversation.
So, storms come. But it is so important to know that they also ….pass. They pass. It might feel like they won’t, but they do. They might be intense and hard and destructive, but they pass. They might be brought on by others or brought on by us or brought on by circumstances beyond anyone’s control, but they come. And they pass. Am thinking that certain things can help us to weather storms so that in the midst of them, we can gain the benefits of the release, the cleansing, the new, without necessarily compounding the destructive components. Here are just a few…
- Knowing who to call for help.Trusted friends and family members.Yes.Sometimes. But always, no matter the circumstance, my main go to? Call upon the Lord… Psalm18 says,
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.”
He knew the storm was coming before it was on the Horizon. He knows how to rescue. But more than anything, He rides out the storm with us. He wants us to call upon His name…to cry out. to draw near. To trust.
I love the story of Jesus in the boat with the disciples. A ‘furious storm’ comes, and the disciples are terrified. Meanwhile Jesus is asleep in the boat. The disciples wake him up and basically call Jesus out as being uncaring. “Don’t you care if we drown?” So Jesus gets up and tells the winds and the waves to be still. And then he asks them about their faith, (which at that moment, they apparently had little of….)
So here’s the funny thing. There was probably a moment of relief. But after that, the disciples are even more terrified and said among themselves, “Who is this that even the winds and waves obey Him?”
I love the quote by Oswald Chambers that says, “…when you fear God, you fear nothing else….” I’m thinking the disciples might agree with that a bit… They had a healthy face to face lesson with the relevance of fear in the presence of Jesus. All other fears kind of melted away in the reverence of the power that they witnessed. I sure have a lot to learn about that kind of fear, but I have so seen His hand at work, and know that He is worthy of being trusted. Through any storm. And His presence can make all the difference in how I weather the storm or the storm weathers me.
2. Remember that “this too shall pass.”
It’s easy to be fearful when you see a storm brewing that you can’t control. Breathe through. Get a sure footing. Don’t react. Panicking and reacting only make us lose our bearings more. (Trust me, I know this from experience…) The storm doesn’t define us. It can be like that storm on the horizon that wash, wash, washes away things to make things fresh and clean and new. Or it can be like that rain cloud that just needs to release, to pour out so we can move on. Or it can be like that intense storm that Kevin Hines experienced when he was at his absolute worst moment of despair and realized “I WANT TO LIVE.” Yes, remember that storms can bring clarity and cleansing and clear the air.
3. Remember that we all have storms, and keep eyes wide open for times when you can offer an umbrella. Or a shoulder. Or talk someone off a ledge. We need each other. Connections are vital. Connect…and be aware of people who might need to connect or need help bridging a gap. Bridges are for building and connecting. Not for jumping. Nope. Not for that. It’s cool how once a bridge is built, anyone can use it to get from point a to point b. Anyone. When you help build a connection in a person’s life, you never know what relationships or opportunities or understandings might come from that.
Well, I hear it’s supposed to be clear and sunny here in North Carolina for the next few days. No storms in the forecast at this point. Hope your forecast is a good one as well <3. But I’m thankful for the lessons of the storms that passed through me and my world this past week. I love how good can spring up out of things when you least expect it. But I believe that’s the way God often moves. He can use anything He wants to draw us near, make things clearer, clean us up or help us grow…or all of the above. And He does. And He has. And will. Thankful for that. He can still the storm around or still the storm within. And He does. And He has. And He will. And maybe one day, we’ll be able to lay down in that boat rocked by the wind and waves and sleep soundly as the storm rages on merely because we know that He’s there…and that makes all the difference.