Images…So many images. So many people. So many men and women and children depicted in the worst nightmares they never dreamed but have been forced to live. And then there are the images seared in my heart of so many brave and compassionate men and women who risked their lives and worked many hours with no relief to save lives at the risk of their own. And there are others who kept working behind the scenes but not unnoticed in all manner of service industries helping to keep people safe and the lines of communication open.
The rains stop. The water begins to recede. This brings more images of lives forcibly hurled great distances away from what was known. So much overwhelming devastation. Ripped out carpet and flooring and furniture and appliances and sheetrock and everything imaginable and unimaginable in the front yards all up and down streets everywhere in our corner of the world. Ripped out hearts. Shredded pieces of lives littering the lawns. Among the debris are little meaningful things lost that make big holes of emptiness when they are on top of a mountain of fear and uncertainty and new unfamiliar terrain. Also, there are big meaningful things, tangible and intangible, that have forever altered individual lives that were once filled with a predictable level of comfort and certainty.
I have learned…I have learned that I began living from a new perspective a couple of weeks ago. I have learned that how I feel has a name. It’s called “Survivor’s Guilt”. I have found that this is a common thread with many I have expressed my heart to in the wake of this tragedy. I’m thankful. Yet at the same time I feel guilty for not experiencing at any level what I see all around me. Why did God choose to completely spare me, yet choose not to spare so many others? I surely don’t deserve it.
I have learned that there are so many caring people who are choosing to put forth monumental effort to help others make a completely impossible cleanup situation not only possible, but efficient and quickly progressive with the highest level of safety. I have learned that there are so many who freely share their knowledge and expertise to help others navigate scenarios they have no GPS for. I have learned that there are wonderful people stepping up to coordinate huge volunteer efforts to match people in need with what they need.
I have learned that I can contribute a little and work at new and different goals for others a little and the impact is felt and appreciated at a level far beyond what I give. My feeble efforts are seen so differently than what I feel they are. To me that means God takes my little and multiplies it. For that I am so grateful.
I have learned that the incredible scenes playing out in our communities are a far cry from what many are still experiencing in other areas. And the devastation continues with new storms and other threats to safety and security. Coincidence? I think not.
I’m learning…I’m learning that I have a choice. I’m shaken even though I’m not facing what so many are. But I’m learning to stand while shaken even as I choose to see beyond the local devastation from just one incredible storm. I’m learning to look up to the God of the universe and acknowledge the state of our nation. We choose violence and entitlement and greed and evil over God. I choose to look up in humility and confession and beseech Him to hear from heaven and see a nation who repents. These catastrophic events and accompanying tremendous fallout can be a catalyst for true and lasting change.