We got blasted with a whopper of a snow storm this past week. 16″ of gorgeous fresh snow! Beautiful! We hunkered down at home and stayed out of the way of the road warriors so they could attack the 2-3′ drifts with their plow trucks.
After almost 18 hours of winter blitz, it was time to dig out. Fired up the old Montgomery Ward snow blower and went at it. It took several hours of non-stop blowing and shoveling to unbury 3 cars in the driveway and clear it to the road.
Our normally frisky golden retriever quickly bottomed out on the 20-24″ drifts around the house. The look on her face was both pathetic and priceless!
Digging out from under a winder storm is tough. But digging out from under the storms in my life
that catch me by surprise can feel, well, overwhelming. How about you?
So, where do you start?
While we can’t avert the storms in our life, we can prepare for them (knowing that they’ll come at some point) and then when they arrive, dig in.
Prepare ahead. I had moved the snow blower from the backyard shed to the garage to have easier access to it. I’d purchased extra gas and changed the spark plug to insure a more reliable start when I pulled the starter rope. I checked the 5 gal. bucket of snow melt salt to make sure I had sufficient to deal with the ice build ups that we get in the upper Midwest. All the snow shovels were present and accounted for. The boyscout moto: be prepared, is a good one.
We can gear up before we get hit by a “life storm” by preparing our hearts and minds for the obstacles and challenges that come our way. Having an emergency fund saved up can avert a financial crisis when a unexpected expense threatens our financial stability.
Regular physical exercise and healthy diet can avert a health crisis that threatens our health and well-being. Guarding our hearts emotionally, relationally, and spiritually (Prov. 4:23) can strengthen our hearts (Psalm 31:24) and our ability to trust God in times of fear and uncertainty (Psalm 56:3). Then, we know where to turn.
Ride it out. Once the storm hits, don’t panic. Ride it out. No sense going out in the middle of the storm and starting to blow or shovel when 15 minutes later it would look like you’ve done nothing. Be patient. Let the snow (or the dust) settle before you jump in and start clearing the path for normal life to resume.
Too often we can jump the gun on a situation and expend tons of energy before it’s really necessary. That’s anxiety kicking in. And it can get the best of us. It’s when we feel things getting out of control that we panic. Be patient. Unless it’s a critical life-threatening situation, we’re often better off just pausing to take a moment to watch and listen. This gives time to access the situation, to gain perspective, and then determine the best course of action that’s needed. This saves the frustration that inevitably comes whenever we act too hastily and have to redo things several times instead of just once.
This is also a time to listen to the heart of your Father . . . your Heavenly Father, who invites you to take all that swirling knot in your gut and to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). That sounds so simplistic. It is. But it’s really hard. To let go and trust God when we feel so helpless and vulnerable it the essence of “walking by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).
Dig in. Once the eye of the storm has past, and we’ve assessed the situation and set a course of action, it’s time to tackle the hard work of digging out and getting the job done. Shoveling a path from the back door to the garage door to get the snow blower out was phase 1. Phase 2 meant firing up the snow blower to blow out behind the vehicles so that we could back them out into the cleared area and then clear the location in front of the garage where they’d been parked. Then came the rest . . . the sidewalks, the mail box, and a path to the bird feeders. (Yes, we do make it a priority to help sustain our little feathered friends through the arctic blasts of a Michigan winter with a steady diet of seeds and such.)
So, next time an unexpected storm threatens to disrupt the normal habits and patterns of your world–be it snow, or grief, or job loss, or a health crisis–try to remember these three steps, and see if they don’t help. If this has been your experience with your storms and you’d like to share your journey with others, please feel free to post it here.