What if instead of flakes, snow fell all at once? Like six inches of snow just plummeted to the earth in one thick blanket setting off car alarms and knocking people over, but that was it. That was the storm.
In life we all experience our own type of storm. Some of us experience occasional showers of rain while others experience full-blown hurricanes that destroy everything in their path. However, no matter how insignificant a person’s “storm” may seem to you, it still changes their life significantly. As humans, we tend to compare our own hardships to the hardships of the people around us. Our selfish nature drives us to want to be the center of attention, to be the biggest victim. Some of us may not admit it, and in fact as you’re reading this you may be thinking to yourself “that’s not me”, but I can guarantee that at one point in your life you were just like the rest of us. Sometimes we even envy a person when they are expressing the rough things going on in their life because my goodness we would trade our problems for their problems in a heartbeat. I struggled with this a lot in high school. Hearing my friends, and even random kids around me, complain about their parents would always sadden my heart because I would give anything to have my parents here with me. It was hard for me to show empathy when girls acted as if their world was ending because their boyfriend broke up with them due to the fact that my life would be so much easier if a boy was my biggest problem.
When I was fifteen I went to a camp called Comfort Zone. It’s an opportunity for kids who have lost a parent to find community amongst each other. It was such a refreshing experience for me because up until that point I had been trying to deal with the pain of (technically) losing both of my parents at the same time. But that weekend at camp made me focus solely on the loss of my dad. As weird as it sounds, it was actually calming to just be the girl who lost her dad. I was in a group made up of about ten fifteen and sixteen year olds and we were each paired with an adult. Throughout those three days we took turns sharing our tragedies and doing healing activities. It’s hard to explain how strangely wonderful it was that all of us kids were there because we had one awful thing in common. We all had very different stories and some wounds were fresher than others, but on some level we all understood each other’s pain. I was one of the last ones to share my story. I’m going to be completely honest and say that while I was listening to the other kid’s stories I would think to myself that theirs didn’t even compare to mine. Everyone except me still had one parent fully present in their lives. When it came time for me to share, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. All of the adults rushed to comfort me and express their love and support. At the time I loved being the center of attention, but now that I look back I am ashamed of that. My story isn’t any more heartbreaking than theirs and I didn’t deserve to receive more attention than they did.
Every single human being on this planet has experienced tragedy. Whether the worst thing that happened to them was losing a pet, or losing their whole family, their pain is still valid. Back to what I said before about girls acting as if their world was ending because a boy broke their heart: I realize now that is their storm, and it does in fact feel like their world is ending. We do not get to rate people’s pain and decide whether or not they’re overreacting because we simply aren’t them. We are the only ones who know what it’s like to feel what we’re feeling. So next time your coworker/ friend/ relative is venting about their problems that seem minuscule to you, and you’re just praying that they shut up before you completely lose your mind, take a walk in their shoes. Because I promise you that if you were them, it would seem like a big deal to you too.
Let’s talk about the quote at the beginning of my post. If you could choose between having the snow fall gradually over time or plummeting down to your life all at once, which would you choose? In the first option, bad things would happen gradually building up to the main event, but allowing you to have some time to process in between. In the second option it just hits you all at once and you’re left emotionally raw, but at least it’s over. Personally, I would choose the second option. I think that having the tragedy hit you like a ton of bricks would be less painful than continuously scratching off the scab that’s formed over your heart over time.
Figuring out how to act in the midst of tragedy, and how to react once it’s over, are both very confusing. When we experience painfully awful things our first instincts are to cry, lash out, and question. This past Sunday at church we had a guest pastor named Dakota Baker. One thing he said that stuck out to me was, “in the middle of a storm we tend to focus on what is happening around us, and while doing so we forget everything we have heard”. This means that while we are going through pretty crappy stuff we tend to only see the bad happening around us, which creates emotional chaos. When instead we should be remembering all of the things we have heard about how to deal with disaster. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Lastly, Romans 8:38-39 tells us, “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. When we are battling through our storms we need to cling to these words and remember what they mean because the asnwer as to what we are supposed to do lies within them. One of the hardest parts is figuring out how we are supposed to react/ continue living once the storm has ended and we are left to pick up the pieces of our lives. The movie “Collateral Beauty” is a beautiful example. My favorite scene is when an older lady tells a young mom who just lost her daughter to remember to look for the collateral beauty in life. To me, looking for the collateral beauty in life means searching for the good things that come as a result of something awful. My friends, there is beauty all around us you just have to open your eyes to see it and open your heart to feel it.
I want you to remember two things. The first thing is that each of us humans truly are living in our own little worlds. Which means that what ruins someone’s world could be very different from what would ruin yours. So do not degrade someone else’s pain just because you don’t feel like it is a big enough deal. We are all human beings trying to fight off the unkind things of this world while searching for joy at the same time, and we just quite simply need to love each other. The second thing is no storm is too big for God to handle. We just need to lean into Him and look to Him for rest and comfort. God gives us a rainbow after each rainstorm as a promise that He will never flood the earth again, and He gives us a rainbow after each storm in our own lives as well. My friends, He will never flood your life with tragedy. No matter how truly awful and hopeless life may seem, you just have to search for the collateral beauty because I promise you if you look hard enough you will find it.