I gaze out at the beautiful, blue Gulf of Mexico, the water is as calm as a lake and the almost non-existent waves are merely ripples. Wading out waist deep I can see tiny fish as they zip past me and a long, thin parrot fish gliding behind them as if he is lazily checking out the buffet. The peacefulness of the water is alluring, but I have seen it look much different.
I remember walking that same beach as a hurricane was barreling toward us but was still some distance away. The waves were furious and relentless in their attack on the shore. The only feet wading into those waves belonged to daring surfers determined to catch a wave or two before they were ordered them from the water.
Same beach, same body of water different days. Life is like that. Some parts of my life have been calm, peaceful and I can see clearly. Some parts of my life have been storms, with waves crashing around me, making me fearful to take a step in any direction, certain that the waves would overpower me, and unsure of which direction to go.
Like the hurricane, the storms in life pass. When in the middle of the fury, it is hard to believe that they will, but they do. Sometimes all that can be done is to hunker down and know that the storm will end. That is the time to allow the quietness in you to remind you that you will make it through.
Life storms come in all shapes and sizes, some more severe than other. Storms can be catastrophic when loved ones die or when someone you love is battling a terrible illness. Storms can be within relationships, or be due to the loss of a job, or financial difficulties. Every person faces different storms, but it is certain that everyone will have storms in their life. Learning how to weather them is the key.
Anger, frustration, worry and fear don’t decrease the intensity of the storm. Demanding that life storms stop is about as successful as demanding that the hurricane stop blowing. Both storms will continue until they are over. And sometimes we don’t know when that is going to be. So, you ride it out – with as much peace as possible.
One of the biggest life storms in my life came when my daughter was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. The storm terrified me. As she went through surgeries and chemotherapy, sometimes I was angry. How could something like this happen to my vibrant, beautiful, health conscious daughter! I yelled at the storm, but it didn’t help.
For me this storm raged strongest when I would awaken in the middle of the night and the storm would engulf me as my thoughts took me to terrifying places. I knew enough to know that it was my thoughts that were causing me the pain in the moment. Knowing that, I would remind myself that in that moment she was alright. At that time, she was getting the medical attention she needed, and at that moment my worry was not changing a single outcome, all it was doing was causing me pain. I had to hunker down and wait out the storm.
It was a long storm. But she survived and so did I. It was a major storm. If it had been a hurricane, its name would have been retired. That life storm hit hard, and weathering it left me changed in some ways, but not in bad ways. I have a greater respect for life in general. I appreciate health more. I value time with my family more. And I really, really appreciate the times of calm, when there is no life storm on my immediate horizon.
Appreciating the calm, clear Gulf of Mexico doesn’t mean that a hurricane will never come again. Valuing and enjoying the times of calm in my life doesn’t mean that I will never have life storms again. I know hurricanes and life storms will come again, but I won’t waste my time worrying about when they will arrive or how long they will last. Those are things I can’t control. What I know is that I can hunker down and find peace inside while I ride out the storms. And storms don’t last forever.