"Lifted out of the wreckage, I find hope in the aftermath."
-Hillsong United, Aftermath
Last week, my little hometown experienced a little snow fall, and a lot of panic. And I learned something about my family.
We are definitely the kind of people you want around in "emergencies."
My body informed me at 7:00 am that it was time to get up and get to work. My sister and my father were already outside getting starting with some shovels and the snow blower (an acquisition my father had put together only a few days before). We only stayed out until about 9:30 that morning, but we managed to uncover the walkways and cars of many of our neighbors, and the driveways of most of the street.
Then we all went inside, changed, and headed out to our respective jobs... just to find that half the state had decided they weren't going to brave the snow.
What's interesting about life is that sometimes we don't realize how different we are until we see the contrast illuminated. I can't imagine a snow fall that wasn't strategically planned... in my house we watch the news to see when it's coming, what the temperature will be the following day (will it melt? will it freeze?), and what to expect the roads will look like. We keep a stash of canned food for emergencies, and logs by the fireplace. We have many blankets and sheets for if the power goes out. And flashlights. Somewhere in my house there must be about 100 flashlights.
A few years ago, we went through a hurricane that washed away a piece of our foundation. The flooding was disastrous to us and to our neighbors. The full cleanup took months- rebuilding is still in progress for many of the homes that were affected. The hurricane took us a little by surprise- water creeping up the street quickly escalated early in the morning, and took just a few hours to start soaking into first floor levels. No one was entirely prepared for that night- not even my family, who has been through a flood once before. Sure, we'd moved much of the important stuff out of the basement. But the first floor? It felt unreal.
It was a really difficult time in my life that followed. Rebuilding is a physical, mental, and emotional experience that becomes very draining. We relied on the help of many of our friends at that time to get us through. One man from our church came to help my family- we didn't know him very well, nor he us, but he came every day that it was possible for him to help anyway. He was able to take instruction and get all the work done efficiently. He didn't waste time, but took breaks often just to sit with us when things got rough.. he is a fantastic person to have around in crisis.
I didn't see it then, but we were learning from his example.
The following year, we were much better prepared for hurricane season. Equipped with a generator and our collection of flashlights, we bundled together with the neighbors and waited for the storm. And while we were blessed not to be flooded again, we lost power for about a week. But this time, we were ready. We quickly created our own routine. And once settled into that, my whole family (including the friends who have become like family) were able to get involved in creating a shelter and charging station in town for some people who hadn't been as prepared for what was coming. Each day, I would return from work, and head over to shelter to help serve a hot meal to those in the shelter, set up cots if needed, and just spend some time talking to some of those who were looking for more than just heat. It touched me to be able to be part of something like that, as I remembered those who had been there to help us only months before.
Less than a foot of snow hardly qualifies as an emergency to me. Clean up takes less than 3 hours. You don't lose heat inside the house. You can eat normal food and resume normal life. But then again, I have a frame of reference that allows me to be ready for more, for bigger things.
I don't look back at the experiences in my life that were hard with any malice. As a matter of fact, I am grateful that I have been through what I have, because it has prepared me for the small things that are coming my way. It has reminded me to rely on God in all things, and to remember what is important in each moment. I have learned how to physically help out, but more than that, I have learned that love is above all things for a reason- it keeps us swaddled and safe when all the physical fails.
We are good to have around in emergencies, my family and I. We are prepared for the whole picture. It let's us see outside our needs and work for the community. I believe this is part of the training the Lord is putting me through so one day I may better share Him and His love.
And it's quickly becoming one of my favorite things about who I am.