As I mentioned previously, I do not have much experience with hurricanes. I am on a first name basis with one named Harvey, though. Harvey has taught me many things, and I am afraid that I will forget his lessons if I am not vigilant about reviewing them regularly.
Harvey taught me what it feels like to believe that I will lose all of my earthly possessions. I did not actually lose everything, but for a little over 24 hours, I believed that I would. Our community was expected to experience catastrophic flooding. Our house was expected to take on 10 feet of water.
We had already evacuated when this was announced, so there was no opportunity to pack all of our irreplaceables. For a full day, we expected to return to a house that had been destroyed by water along with all of its contents. There was nausea, helplessness, fear, and overwhelming loss. My muscles were tense, and my heart was broken.
I felt guilty for being affected this way. After all, it was just stuff. My security is in Christ, not in my possessions, but that was hard to get through to my heart. As my sister Rebekah said, “It’s just stuff, but it’s your stuff.” I did not want to lose my home. I did not want to lose my stuff. I was deeply afraid and wholly insecure.
Harvey taught me to give the best I can. When I was contemplating what it would be like if our house flooded, I imagined living off of donations. In this fabricated future, I missed having quality things: leather shoes, well-fitting jeans, wood furniture, a comfortable mattress. The fictional me was thankful for people who wanted to give, but wished they had wanted to give nicer things.
Often, I donate for quantity, thinking I should help as many people as I possibly can. Going forward, I would like to ensure that my gifts bequeath dignity, as well as meeting a need, so I need to carefully consider the quality of my donations.
Harvey taught me to energetically seek to serve others. Right now- today- I have abundant zeal for volunteering and helping those who are less fortunate. Perhaps this is a response to how thankful I am that we were spared in this disaster. Perhaps it is compassion for friends and neighbors. Either way, I know that energy fades. I need to make sure that today’s enthusiasm is still there tomorrow, next week, and next year because needs will still exist when most of the volunteers have moved on.
Harvey taught me to pack my important documents next time I evacuate. If not, I will worry about identity theft until I return home.
Harvey taught me that I need to check weather forecasts (at least during hurricane season). Robert and I watch very little TV, so I get my news from podcasts and my weather from an app. I had no idea a hurricane was forming in the gulf until the day before we evacuated. With a little more advance notice, I could have spared myself some panic.
I hope that the things Harvey has taught me will change the way I live out the rest of my life. I hope that I can be sensitive to those who have lost earthly possessions, because I have tasted loss. I hope that I will wisely prepare for my next evacuation, and that I will be informed ahead of time.
Throughout this experience, this has been my prayer:
Lord, thank you for the ways that you have blessed me. Help me to hold everything you have given me with an open hand, so I will be ready to let go when you ask me to. Please use me and my circumstances for your glory. If it is your will, spare my community.