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"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." I lived on the banks of a river . . . and it captured my attention. These are my observations about the parallels between my life...and the river.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tornado warnings and flash floods

This spring and early summer have been incredibly rainy.  On the positive side of things, my surroundings are very lush and green.  The negative, well, I'm sure you can imagine what too much rain and a lack of sun will do to a community.

Especially a community still recovering from traumatic flooding less than eighteen months ago.

As I drove over one of the bridges tonight, the river was raging.  It has risen inches, maybe more, just over the last two days.  We now get emergency alerts on our phones, televisions and radios about possible flash flooding when there is an abundance of rain.  Just last week we also received a tornado warning.  It actually touched down briefly, although nothing even close to what occurs when a tornado touches down out west.  This was 'merely' an F2. It took down a number of trees, which in turn took down power lines, destroyed some cars and damaged a few buildings, but nothing close to what they're dealing with in Oklahoma. 

Natural disasters generally bring out two types of responses in people.  For some, the adrenaline hits and they go into "doer" mode.  There is no time to panic, there is work to be done, recovery efforts to begin, people to look out for, etc.  For others, the crisis is overwhelming and can be incapacitating, rendering them incapable of even making simple decisions for a time.  This can be initial shock, but it can also be a precursor to an individual allowing the crisis to overcome them. 

Disasters aren't limited to nature, of course.  Life has it's share of man-made disasters as well.  Some stem from breaks in the lines of communication, others from poor choices, still others are much more random, unexpected and out of our control.  Yet, one thing that is still in our control is how we respond to these disasters and crises as they occur. 

Today is only Tuesday, yet by noon I said to one of my co-workers, "I know this job can be stressful, but I can't remember the last time I was this stressed at work, and it's only Tuesday!"  Every time I turned around something outside of my control was falling apart -- and I had to pick up the pieces.  Make things work.

The good news is, just as I no longer run to the couch and hide my head under all the pillows when I hear thunder (yes, I did actually outgrow that many years ago!), I didn't run screaming, or quit my job when things got out of hand.  This is progress, people!  I haven't quit a job because of stress, but I've definitely had plenty of meltdowns!  But not today.  And after the crisis passed (yes, it did indeed pass), I was able to see that little victory and realize, yes!!  I'm still making progress!  The tortoise is still going.  :-)

So what DO you do when you get the hypothetical flash flood or tornado warning and the crisis hits?  [insert the details of your most recent life or work crisis here]  Well, in today's situation all I could do was take a breath, then verify the facts.  Once I did that I realized there was nothing I could do to "fix" it.

And panicking would not help.  However, I could determine alternate steps -- plan B, so to speak.  It took a couple of hours and many phone calls, but we were able to adapt and flex; it all seems to be working out in a manner of speaking. 

Thinking logically and clearly is not a gift that everyone has in times of crisis or high stress.  But, it can be developed.  Just do the next thing.  Everyone gets overwhelmed when looking at all the things they have to do, or the enormity of a crisis.  But it goes back to the simple saying we've all heard so many times, "how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time."

Does this mean I'll never have another meltdown?  Probably not.  We all have our moments, don't we?  But today, as I reflect on the past few years, I can say that they are decidedly fewer and for that I am grateful.  Life is much more peaceful when we are anchored to the Rock.

My favorite hymn remains, "...rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee..."