Honestly, I had forgotten about it until this morning. I picked up my purse, the strap pressing hard on the bruised knot on my hand. It’s not as swollen now as it was, but when I felt the twinge I looked and realized it’s moved into that ugly stage all bruises go through before disappearing altogether.
Oh, I remember now…. Sunday….. Sunday morning…..
I cringe with the remembrance.
It started out as a pretty normal morning, though I did tell Scott upon waking that I felt “a little weird.” I felt jumpy…jittery…anxious, though not to the point of panic. Just not quite right. Looking back, I should have seen the signs then, but I didn’t. My mind was on getting dressed…breakfast…in the car and off to church. I wasn’t thinking about war.
I was dressed and ready to get in the car when it happened. I decided, on a whim, to change my sweater, and went back into our bedroom to find something else. Oh, that it had been that easy.
But it never is for me. I can (and do) cite a number of reasons for this particular pressure point in my mind, but this isn’t the time or place for that. All that matters now (and all that mattered then) was that the gnawing anxiety was swelling into an explosive attack of panic and fear and anger and frustration.
By the time my husband came in to see if I was ready to go, things were bad. Really bad. I had already been employing every defense I knew of, but the attack would not abate. My attacker would not flee. My mind would not calm. It would not stop, and all I could think was, “Not now. Not today. Not this. Not now. Not again.” The frustration and the anger over panic’s reappearance was enough to drop me to my knees. I was done. Not again.
Hands flailing…..tears streaming…..heart racing. Not again. Not this. Not again.
I later told my precious husband what it had felt like: a storm moving in on the horizon. Dark clouds pressing toward me, and a vague awareness that things were going to get ugly. I could feel it moving in slowly – from the time I got up that morning, I could tell something was off, and I think I knew somewhere in my spirit that things weren’t going to be good. It moved in slowly, but it moved more quickly as it came closer. The closer it came the faster the clouds rushed in, until *wham*. Downpour. Thunder. Lightning. Wind. The full force of the storm, all at once.
I had seen it coming, but I hadn’t done anything about it. I had waited until the battle raged to get out my weapons, and by that point it was too late. I had waited for the proverbial downpour to begin before I looked for my umbrella. By then, I was already soaked.
The other night, we had a pretty severe line of storms move through our part of the country. All of our local news stations were buzzing with reports of what was coming for hours before it ever got here, and I – always one to follow weather developments – fed on each new radar picture with ravenous anticipation. I had to know when it would get here…how bad it would be…what kind of damage it had ready left in its path. I anxiously watched the green, yellow, and red band as it crept ever closer to our town. I peered out the windows to check on the already-howling wind and ever-darkening skies. I comforted the cat when he dared poke his head out from behind the couch, and repeatedly told my daughter that storms were coming when she asked what I was checking on.
I checked and checked and checked. I knew what was coming. I knew the power would probably go out and we might have tornadoes. I piled pillows and blankets in the closet, just in case, and moved the chairs from the porch to save them from the wind. I changed the plans for supper, because I didn’t want to be in the middle of elaborate meal preparation when the power went out. (Not that my meals are ever elaborate….*ahem*)
The point is, I knew what was coming and thought about everything I needed to do to get ready…..except for probably the most important thing. I didn’t prepare for the darkness.
At around 6:30 in the evening, when the sun had already disappeared behind the dark clouds and the street lights had already come on, I heard an odd hum. It hummed for about a minute before the black engulfed our house. Darkness. Complete and utter darkness. I am not exaggerating when I say that it was not until that moment – sitting on the couch in the pitch black with my daughter crying fearful tears in the dark upstairs – that I even thought about needing something for the darkness. I had done so much to make sure that I was ready for the storm, but when it came down to it, I was still caught off guard. I had known it was coming, and I knew everything about that storm, and I knew the damage it had already caused…….but I didn’t do the most obvious and most important thing to prepare. As a result, I staggered in the darkness to try to find a flashlight, calling out to my daughter that “Mommy’s here…Mommy’s coming….it’s okay…..I’m coming…….” I scavenged and scrounged to find candles and batteries for the flashlights, bumbling around like I had never been in a power outage before.
I had known it was coming, but it still snuck up on me. For all of my awareness of the impending storm, I was still woefully unprepared.
Today, I have come to understand that both storms – that of panic and that of violent January weather – got at something God’s pressing on my heart this week: preparedness. Admittedly, I don’t know fully what that means for me at this point. I don’t know how to prepare any more for these storms that I know will come, because I have long felt that my experience alone prepared me for whatever attack came next. I’ll handle it better next time because I’ve learned from this. Next time will be different.
Clearly, though, I’m in a place where that strategy is just not enough. Something more is being asked of me, and while I am still uncertain what it might look like to be fully prepared for the inevitable attacks, I am becoming increasingly aware that awareness does not equal preparedness. Knowing what is coming does not make me ready for it when it gets here.
God is asking something more of me. As I wrote before, I am somehow being called to be proactive rather than reactive. I need to be ready, because the storms? Well, they’re coming. The good news, though, is that while my house and my neighborhood and my entire town may lose its power as the winds swirl ’round, the power that rests in me can never be shaken or stolen.
I don’t know what preparedness may look like, and admittedly, I still don’t know what it looks like to overcome something like this. I do know, though, that Jesus promised it was possible, and I’ll rest in that until I figure it out. Jesus overcomes, and as long as He lives in me, I can, too. I have to believe it’s possible somehow.
Come, sweet Jesus. Bring your peace in my stormy, troubled spirit. Calm the raging seas of my mind, and somehow show me how to live in light of the inevitable storms this life will bring. Show me what it is you’re asking me to do, and somehow give me the strength and courage to follow through. I ask all of this only so that you can be seen in my trials…and that I may know you better. All for your glory, even more than my own survival. Amen.
On this crazy journey with you,