Name Your Storm…by Anne Stewart Helton

PERTURBED…PREPARED…PRAYERFUL…PANICKED…PARALYZED… PETRIFIED….PESSIMISTIC…PERSISTENT….PASSIVE…No words can really describe the actions and feelings one has when information hits social media or the airwaves about a coming weather storm. The Meteorologists, for the most part, become your best friends!

For some, a coming storm, conjures up memories of past storms, denial of the potential hurt, feelings of piling on to existing problems, shock about what to do or perhaps going into a control mode of preparation, attack and craziness! When there is time to anticipate a Storm in life, it seems like people go into a grief process and once the shock of what is coming hits the reality of what needs to be done, they move quickly forward to manage and get through it…sometimes leaving their feelings trailing on a leash by necessity.

All normal. All explainable. All part of the Storms of life.

The recent 2017 Hurricanes, Harvey in Houston and Irma in Florida, brought out many feelings, actions, desperate situations, shock, denial, scapegoating, leadership traits, mobilization, heroes, supporters, workers, bonding situations and forever changes. These storms brought out mostly all of the good in people, even when some tried to focus on any bad. The people spoke. The people showed up with…”we don’t have time for negative“. We have to get ‘boots on the ground’ and fix this situation and help each other. We are forever changed.

Yes. Forever. Changed.

In Houston, as I still watch my City and friends struggle with the pain of rebuilding their homes, jobs and lives after Hurricane Harvey’s flooding (many of them having flooded several times recently), I realize they are forever changed. How could it be possible to not be changed whenever we go through a major Storm in life? In Houston, many remember Hurricane Carla from the 60’s, in New Orleans, we remember Hurricane Katrina, in Beaumont we remember Rita, in the North East we remember Sandy, and now in Florida and the Caribbean, we remember Irma. We learn from these named Storms and all the life events that surround them.

With a named Storm, we can put the experiences, the pain, the good, the feelings, the lessons, the new friends and the grief and loss in a box and name it. It’s not to minimize the situation but we can ‘time stamp’ the Storm. And it allows us to put these named Storm boxes on shelves in our brain and have some control over them, bringing them out when we want. We can tell stories from them, we can remember lessons, we can help others learn from our experiences and we can cry on our pillow about them, if needed. We can reach back and compare new situations to them and we can learn to feel stronger because we went through them. Think of the stories we have heard of the past storms…usually named by locations. My grand-father spoke of the “Great Storm of 1900 in Galveston”, and my Mother often remembered the Long Beach Earthquake, scaring us to death about jumping over cracks in sidewalks! Currently, residents are describing the fear surrounding the La Tuna Canyon or Montana Fires. In the Gulf Coast we even named the floods in Houston of the past few years: the Memorial Day Flood and the Tax Day Flood, both for the dates they occurred. And when people speak of moving from New Orleans the word Hurricane doesn’t even have to be mentioned, just the word Katrina says it all. And now as Hurricane Irma has devastated parts of Florida and the Caribbean, her name will define the entire event just as Harvey will define the great flood of Houston, 2017.

We grow from these stormy situations and we bond with each other, we reach out and help, we learn new skills, we move on to new places and we reach up, yes, reach up to God. Sometimes the washing of flooding waters brings new spirituality, life and hope.

So, I propose that we name all the Storms of our lives. They are already in our memories so let’s package them and define them. We can put our arms around them and put them on shelves with the memories, the lessons, and then move forward. For instance, name the storm of your divorce, your miscarriage, your lost child, your job loss, bankruptcy, flooded house, automobile wreck, health issue, emotional crisis, etc., etc.

Yes, name your Storm….names like: Hurricane Cancer of 2016. The Flood of Tears when the baby died. The Overdose Fire when the brother was in ICU. The Poverty Wind when a bankruptcy took the home. The Terror Tornado when the car was hijacked. The Boyfriend Quake when a heart was broken or the Mommie Tsunami we went through when my Mom died.

Even when our Storms are named, we will still hurt when we recall them but we can talk about them a little more objectively and place the Storm in the past tense. We can describe the event, the lessons learned and realize how strong we were / are, knowing we survived them. Perhaps we can move forward more readily and know that as it is written in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”