In 2005 I had the privilege of serving 51 displaced Hurricane Katrina evacuees. They landed at my back-door in rural Georgia after being displaced by one of the biggest storms of the century.
The physical storm that disrupted their lives was paltry in comparison to the aftershock of emotional and spiritual storms that eclipsed their lives.
I stepped into this space and created an aftercare bench for 20 of the women. After a few weeks of care, one of the evacuees Kyla* changed the message on her phone to the following…
Hello and thanks for calling. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have made some changes in my life. If I do not call you back, YOU are one of those changes.
My translation of Kyla’s message?
STEP 1: [Due to circumstances beyond my control] – Life has happened. I couldn’t stop it. I’m acknowledging the reality of my pain instead of minimizing it.
STEP 2: [I have made] – I can’t control what happened, but I can use it as a launching pad to reflectively look at my life and see what needs changing, and then change those things.
STEP 3: [If I do not call you back, YOU are one of those changes] – This is the action that I am committing to in order to make my life better.
Life happens. Storms happen. Shit happens.
But what Kyla taught me is that instead of bemoaning the fact that shit-has-happened, look at it as an opportunity to make changes in your life. Allow the storm to be a catalyst that motivates you towards positive life change, instead of a black hole that sucks you into emotional oblivion.
I’m ten months out of a major storm in my life.
To be totally honest, I’m still in Step 1 of processing through it. Some days I’m mad at life for “happening.” I’m frustrated at the load of crap that I was left carrying. Step 1 is forcing Step 2 to occur in my life… but I wouldn’t say that I have willingly moved into Step 2.
Step 3 is the inevitable pruning process that will result from Step 1 and Step 2. I’m already starting to look at what in my life needs to be kept, and what needs to go. I’m taking a re-look at what has gotten me to where I am, what needs to be retained, and what needs to be pruned for the next leg of my journey.
I’d love to wrap a pretty bow on this post and call it resolved… but it’s not. This is a stop on my journey from the middle of change and I don’t have a lot of answers.
*Kyla’s name has been changed to protect her identity.