Life is hard. Life is hardening. I have been learning a lot, more than I would like, over the last few years about life. I have been experiencing its terrors, and it’s turmoil, more than it’s joy or excitement.
It’s not that I haven’t had good times and it’s not that I have been in a puddle for 3 years. No, I have been in a hurricane.
Life takes what it wants and offers little to nothing in return. We experience losses constantly. Loss of loved ones, betrayals, disappointment, financial crisis, consequences of other people’s mistakes and so on.
And we often treat these circumstances as untouchable. They are so beyond us, we treat them as a god, mostly unconsciously.
Let me explain. I believe we engage a lot of devastating circumstances and experiences inappropriately. We either pretend they don’t exist or we have power struggles with them trying to show our dominance. Either way, our goal: return control to our hands. Take back what outside circumstances have taken from us.
I think we unknowingly give life and strength to these circumstances. Are you following? I think when we find our selves in desperation and confusion we strengthen these crises. So, I think we should stop thinking about them as experiences or losses and label them the way we are already treating them:
They are living and breathing monsters. Like the Rhino black storm cloud in the movie James and the Giant Peach (1996), they are lurking, just waiting to consume more.
I have begun calling them storms. Raging storms, sometimes, many times, hurricanes minus the “eye of the storm”.
Here is how they work:
1) we experience something traumatic or painful.
2) It hurts, it stings and it scares us. Like a lighting strike, a part of our world is hit and damaged.
3) We begin to stress and worry, our mind starts swirling with what ifs, whys and what could I have different.
4) We grapple with something painful that we do not imagine to be living and breathing, feeding off our strength.
5) We fight it for control, through vices, through keeping busy, through denial, through anger. We try to assert our power, to return our control
6) The storm with its agents of lighting and hail, that at one point only had the power to hurt you in one area, has been sapping your strength. Now it’s winds are monstrous and whipping and tearing. What once only hurt one part of your life is ripping through your world.
7) The storm’s key objective from the beginning was to consume everything, to not just control situations but to control you. It is alive and it is extremely well versed in manipulation. So it cons you into giving it access to more sacred parts of your heart and life. Your marriage suffers, your anger overwhelms your relationships, depression slips in, paranoia and fear are grabbing at your legs.
8) The powerful tools of your emotions, willpower and imagination are now being used in full force against you. The storm has grown immense and it is feasting.
9) What happens here is up to you. You either learn to unravel the storm or it unravels you.
Gosh this sounds so dismal, I don’t mean it to. I am just speaking about blunt reality. And it has not been make believe in my life it has been real, every step that I just explained.
There is a sentient storm waiting above each of our heads, waiting and ready to pounce. It’s an opportunist, a conman, that gets its strength from manipulating you. It has agents to do its bidding against you. People who leak toxicity into your heart. Tragic losses like lighting strikes. Fear mongering thoughts that press into your mind. It’s an outside force that so desperately wants in.
We give the storm god like strength but believe it’s just a circumstance. But that is a lie, it is alive and it is hungry.
So what now? We have some godlike beast above our head trying to eat us alive, what the heck do we do.
First, call it what it is. You may think acknowledgement gives the storm power. You are wrong. It gives you ground to stand on. It takes the wonder out of the what if’s and the whys. You know that you aren’t facing off against unpredictable circumstances, you are staring into the eyes of a monster that wants to use the unexpected, the tragic and the traumatic to undue everything in you. Your battle isn’t with the circumstance it’s with the storm.
Next, realize where this storm gets its power from. You. It siphons it’s strength off you like a raccoon feasting on your garbage at night. It’s an opportunist. But it isn’t satisfied with your garbage, it wants to manipulate you into believing that the good stuff you have in the fridge has gone bad too. It wants your health and your good fruit. And often we hand them over without thinking twice. On a silver platter. And the storm, the raccoon, the beast, feasts more.
But those good parts of your life. This is where it gets tricky. The storm convinces you that they were yours and that they are no longer good anymore.
Do you want to know how to beat the storm?
This one is big. Accept, embrace, believe boldly that the good fruit was never yours to begin with. The storm cannot take what was never yours to begin with.
Stay with me here. They belong to God. Joy, love, relationships, health, strength, creativity, truth. They aren’t yours or the storms. They belong to God. And the storm is pitiful in Gods eyes.
What I am talking about is true surrender. Not some prayer to ask God to take the pain away or intercede in your circumstance.
The circumstances will still happen, the lighting strikes will come. But when the losses happen, can you find a way to stop fighting for control and to turn to God and say, You are in control. The storm has no authority in any other area in my life.
The storm cannot convince me to turn to temptation, to spurn my spouse, to take my anger out on my kids, to recede into myself.
When lighting strikes, of course it causes damage. But why does it get to hurt what it was never meant to hurt.
Surrendering, is looking deep into the storm, and saying “you sure are tiny compared to my God” “You don’t get to manipulate me anymore”
There is joy in surrendering. In fact I think Joy is surrendering. I think Joy is choosing to love your wife when your job is gone. I think Joy is building up your children when you feel torn down. I think Joy is working with God to make something new out of the damage the storm has caused.
Yes our storms are alive. But they are weak. They are parasites. They are pitiful. They are copy cats and manipulators. God is the calmer of storms. Take a stand for your life today, and stop fighting for control that you were never meant to have. You have a choice. Give your control to the storm OR save your energy and stop holding on and grab onto God instead. Let God silence the storm once and for all.
Because I am not a fan of vague Christian advice. Here are some ways to surrender and to know that you are surrendering:
– Aim daily to look for God more often than not. Do the same weekly. The funny thing about God is that his math is different than ours. 100 bad choices VS one time choosing to pray instead of a choice you will regret. 100 bad choices vs loving your spouse with your words instead of shutting them out. Those “one times” outshine the 100 other choices.
Lift up and honor those shining moments, those are who you are.
-say things out loud. “I will not allow this loss to hurt my marriage, or my kids or my dreams”
-choose to use yours skills, creativity (the things that energize you) to be generous instead of hiding them away, just one time.
-cut off the toxic agents of the storm. Many times they are real people in your life. Stop worrying about long term consequences for whatever reason and realize they are agents of the storm. Whether they know it or not, they want their poison to infect all of you. Compliments of the storm. Toxic people and situations have NO right to the sacred parts of your life. Your faith, your hope, your love.
-Depend on community to help them fight the storm, allow them to help you see what is real and what is false, surrendering to God is accepting help, many times in the form of a counselor.
I have lots of other thoughts on this but I think I will stop here. Contact me if you want to talk more or need genuine prayer.
I have lived in a hurricane for far too long. And frankly I am done allowing it to take what is not mine to give. I am ready for my storm to fall silent. Are you?