Confession: The last couple of months in my life have been incredibly hectic, and I feel like I weathered a storm dragon.
Additional confession: This is my first post since February, and I hope to be posting more regularly going forward.
I got married in the first week of January. I moved 750 miles to Tennessee with my wife one week later; we moved into a house we had never seen (partnership with a church where the previous tenants were unable to move out by the time we had first come by, making it a very awkward move in/out phase). Our new house had roaches and fleas. I was enrolled in three graduate level seminary classes and working 25-30 hours a week in retail. Four weeks after moving here, the company I worked for, Family Christian Stores, announced their permanent closing. I started working 30-39 hours a week. I dropped one of my classes. My wife found an 8-5 job (YAY!) but I was still working 1-10pm, which meant we barely saw each other, and when I was home I had to do homework. I also was doing volunteer church work. After saying all that, I hope you can appreciate my identification of that as “Storm” that needed to be weathered.
Some storms end, some are unending, some are big and some are small. My grandmother died of pancreatic cancer when I was thirteen. For her, that was a storm that lasted the remainder of her life. For me, it was a storm that I weathered for a time. Storms vary based on perspective and involvement. It is impossible to look at someone or even have one conversation and understand the storms going on in their lives. When you are in a storm, sometimes the only solution is to endure. I suppose you could crumble, but I will assume that is no one’s desired outcome.
Some storms come into your life as consequences to your actions; other storms simply arise of no fault to you or those around around you. It is up to you to choose how to weather the storm. For me, the choice was simple: Reach out for my faith in God and cling to the valuable relationships in my life. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what the next month could even look like – I loved my wife, my job, my family, and I had good memories, do not mistake that. My life was simply too unstable to imagine what the future could hold. I didn’t actually know the closing date for my work until 3 weeks prior to closing. So I went to work 9 weeks in a row waiting to be told when it would be the last.
Faith is a tricky thing. Some of you may have a deep, rich faith, complemented by strong faithful friends and family. Others may be loners, estranged from family, caught in busy-ness of life. If you hold to the Christian faith, I encourage you to never lose hope in the identity God gave you as an inheritor in his kingdom. Faith provides a simple answer in some sense, but trusting in a God you cannot visibly see can be a huge challenge for some; do not judge your friends or family who cannot find faith as a viable option. Love on them, because they will need your love all the more when they cannot find faith.
Other ways to better weather the storm: Find a good book to enjoy (For me it has always been Star Wars books – I have read 4 in the last 5 weeks and that has been the best stress relief for me). Find a TV series that makes you laugh (Parks and Recreation or the Office are two that I have enjoyed/am enjoying). Find time to workout/exercise and burn off some excess energy and stress. And most importantly: find someone who can just grieve with you and act as a small cave for you to hide in while the storm rages. I wish I was better being that shelter for others – I remain convinced that God will forever be the best shelter, but when someone in the storm does not know God, we who do are called to be his image and vessel on earth, and we are to be the shelter that provides warmth and protection as best as we can.
May you endure the onslaught of the Storm Dragon plaguing you, may you fight the storm dragons attacking, and may your endurance lead you to a deeper faith in God. Until next time, may better dragons fly your way.