What Hurricane Harvey Taught Me

“The poor and needy search for water,
    but there is none;
    their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
    I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.”

– Isaiah 41:17

We knew when the meteorologist estimated dozens of inches of rain in Houston, we had to get out of town. For us, the house and cars could all wash away, but we didn’t want to be in a situation where the water was rising and there was no way to explain what was happening to our Autistic son. Thankfully we had the option to leave, so we headed north.

Driving through town to return to our property several days after the storm, devastating images of Harvey’s aftermath inundated us. Whole neighborhoods stood broken. Lifeless material possessions heaped high on lawn after lawn, street after street. Grief weighed heavy on my heart. It’s pungent odor offended my senses.  The parking lot of our local library transformed itself into a graveyard of children’s books. The spines lay crippled, one on top of the other, the stacks stretching across the concrete in empty solidarity.

Signs read CLOSED INDEFINITELY. Others WE’LL BE BACK! Some boasted #HoustonStrong at a time when everyone felt powerless.

It brought tears to my eyes and a revelation to my soul. You see, I’ve been struggling with depression for some time now. I’ve come to realize it’s always been there, but I was more able to cope with it as a single woman. But now being the mom of a special needs child, I rarely even think of what I need because I’m constantly prioritizing my son.

God used the gutted homes and businesses to reveal the reality of the human condition. Sometimes pain from our childhoods eats us alive. Other times it’s insecurity, anger issues, or an eating disorder. Often people cover their emptiness so well that people like me start to think they’re the only ones fighting.

Everyone deals with their sadness in a different way. For instance,  productivity is my drug of choice. The worse I get, the busier I look and the more accolades I receive from those around me. Even my own mother was shocked when I confided in her about my true state of mind. Some people use humor. Others cling to their material possessions, careers, or exercise regimen.

Some defense mechanisms are not so easy to hide. Drug and alcohol addictions are less socially acceptable than my way of dealing with things, but none of these defense mechanisms protect us from this fallen world.  Everyone is a mess. We are all rotting drywall dumped on the dirt at the foot of the cross. Without the Master, we will never rebuild.

In times of tragedy, it’s easier to see the truth of who people are. The luxury of covering up our pain is quickly taken away when a loved one dies or our homes are suddenly unlivable. There is no time or energy left to head to the beauty salon or get a manicure. We leave home vulnerable because we don’t have what it takes to do anything else.

I write this blog post for you, the woman or man who is dying inside despite your impeccable outward appearance. God sees what you hide under your bed: your secret addictions, your bruises, your scars. He hears the softest muffle of a thought for a different life. He knows sometimes just getting out of bed is devastatingly painful. He watched his own son be pierced and nailed to a cross. He saw those who claimed to need Him insist on His son’s death. There is nothing worse than having a front row seat to your child’s misery.

But there is a happy ending to this heartache we feel. There is a God who wants to make it all better. He wants to wrap you up in the comfort of His arms and rock you into a peaceful sleep.

I’m sorry you’re hurting. We’re not meant to be here amidst all this turmoil. We’re meant to eat the fruit from God’s garden all the days of our lives. So hold on, Loved One. Hold on to the one who made you. He’s forever at your side, cheering you on through the darkest places.


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