Saturday, May 20, 2017

4 Years On the Other Side...It Is Well

What does it look like 4 years on the other side of your "before and after" moment in life? The moment that became the invisible line you drew to separate the time when you lived naively, blissfully--without the gut punch reality of what a seriously bad day feels like. You unknowingly and honestly unintentionally compare almost everything to that day, that whirlwind moment that changed everything you knew. And then you place it in a sort of capsule and bury it in your heart, later to unearth it and examine its contents over and over again. Sometimes you dig it up simply because it is familiar, because it is comfortable. And because it represents your innocence. The time when you didn't know just how broken the world is.

Sometimes I hear the word "tornado" escape my mouth and it sounds like an incredibly strange word that I made up, an almost fantasy word. I try not to say it too often, afraid most people are tired of hearing it. I can imagine that all of us who have endured something substantial have the same fear. I can plummet into mind-bending thinking such as: Do tornadoes really exist? What really causes them? Does God spin up the atmosphere and sit back and see what will become of it? (And of course I know He doesn't.) And then I find myself breaking down each syllable of the word and then I end up in a puddle of linguistic over-analysis. (I do like words and their origin!)

The truth is, living in the after of your life altering moment looks incredibly different for all of us, and even that reality can change on a constant basis. The memories--the indescribable smell of mixed mud, lumber, insulation, and sheetrock; the incessant beeping of machinery, the distant punctuated buzzing of chainsaws; the eerie sight of abandoned stores, missing street signs and entire strings of power lines...those things never quite leave you. But there are days where their presence is less easy to silence. The capsule demands to be unearthed and examined again, whether you wrote it into your planner or not. It simply refuses to be left in the ground.

Every May 20 is that day for me. I try not to dwell on that first May 20, but each passing one brings with it a need to remember. To remember how thankful I am for the way God rescued us, even in tiny ways that I would have never been able to recognize then as His grace and provision. To remember and grieve again with the families who have a different kind of story than we do. To remind myself that if God carried us through those dark and terrifying moments 4 years ago, He can and surely will carry us through all the dark and terrifying moments that still await us.

As for the all the days in between every May 20--those days are just like your in between days...full and busy and wonderful and terrible and delightful and sad. I open cabinet doors in the kitchen looking for a lasagna dish that I don't have anymore, even now. It sneaks up on me. I catch a faint whiff of that strange cocktail smell that invaded my senses after the storm, and it instantly knocks me backward a bit. I stumble for a moment and eventually catch myself, remembering where I am and that I don't need to spiral down into fear.

Also in all those in between days, I hear of other people's seriously bad days, and my heart aches a little more for them. I know how to pray for them, I know how to stand beside them and not say anything stupid, but just be. These are of course only afforded me because of the fire we walked through 4 years ago, where God taught us so many lessons in people.

People are fragile, but they are strong.
People are broken, but they mend well.
People are prideful, but they can be brought to their knees in a second.
People are different, but they're really all the same.

Today I will open the door and let the visuals, the sounds, the emotions flood my room for just a bit.

But I won't stay there. 

Yes, I will no doubt dig up my time capsule, open it, and examine how far I've come from that day. And then I'll carefully place it back into its keeping place, pat the dirt back over its form and bid it goodbye until another day when I will need to measure my steps of healing again. Probably next May 20.

And all those days in between, I'll live the life God spared, I'll hug the kids God rescued that day, I'll even embrace another one He has added to us, I'll walk the woods and field I never planned to own, I'll soak in moments with friends and other family...and every breath that escapes me will be a "Thank You" to the One who kept us all. And hopefully by the time I need to dig my hands into the dirt next year, I will have grown even more and become just a little more grounded in my faith, in my ability to say "It is well..." It is well, Jesus. And whatever our next before and after moment may be in the future, it will be well also.

Peace of Christ to you,