"There is peace even in the storm." -Vincent VanGogh
Two weekends ago my youth group and I decided to go kayaking. Living in Alabama, you can never determine how the weather will be on a summer day. A few rain clouds were shown on the forecast, but they seemed to be just minor showers. So, we decided to go out and take the journey anyways.
The first hour or so of the journey was absolutely beautiful. I had yet to fall out or flip my kayak. I was a happy girl. The river was flowing perfect and the sun was shining bright.
We got out to swim and rest our arms for a bit, and suddenly a dark cloud hovered over us. The wind started blowing and leaves started falling. Rain started pouring. Thunder started to sound in the distance.
Me, being the biggest exaggerator in the world, felt as if I was in a survival movie and I wasn't up for the challenge to fight to survive. I laughed at first because I always find myself in crazy situations. It seemed to just be another normal day in the life of Abbie. I thought well here's another life lesson to learn, and boy was I right.
As the rain fell harder I noticed the difficulty I was having to fight the current. The paddling became harder and I found myself nearing the back of the group. Scared that I would be struck by lightning and drifted down the river, I began to pray. I prayed that the storm would stop and we would all safely make it to shore.
As the storm began to rage on we finally had found a safe place, a refuge. Peace overflowed my body. We came upon a bridge. The men in the group who were ahead had safely pulled their kayaks on to the bank, and they had bravely stepped into the current to make sure we didn't drift beyond the bridge. They worked together to get us lined up underneath the bridge so that we were all shielded from the pouring rain. We were all happy again. The storm was still raging on, but we were seemingly safe. We were shielded and protected. We were thankful to the compassionate men. No one was left alone in the storm.
I found this situation awfully familiar.
I smiled to myself, knowing that this was just another life lesson and story that God was letting me live.
See, the storms of life are often like that wild adventure I faced.
There's the calm before the storm. Life seems absolutely beautiful. You realize that there's a chance of a storm, but you aren't fearful. You are living your life to the fullest and loving every minute. Everything is going great, and you couldn't be happier.
There's the dark clouds and the wind. You begin to get frightened. You laugh it off. You know that something is about to happen. You strap up. You prepare yourself. You start to feel the raindrops, but you know your strength. You know you can handle it. You keep going. You know what's coming next.
Here you are, right in the middle of your storm. The rain is pouring. You are scared for your life. You feel as if you can't go on. You keep pushing, but you don't seem to be going anywhere. You feel stuck. You feel like this is the end. It's the worst feeling in the world. You are in the back. You can't keep up. You know that if you give up you'll never live, but you also feel that if you keep going you're never going to get anywhere. It's dark. It's lonely. It's frustrating. All you wanna do is cry. All you wanna do is get out of it. You feel as if you never will though. You feel like you are here for a purpose. No one cares, you tell yourself. Life is over. You've lost all hope. All you can do is pray.
Then up ahead, you spot the bridge. You see it in the distance. It seems so far away, but you see it. You find peace. You know that if you make it there you'll be safe. It's a refuge. You keep going. The storm gets harder, but you are confident because you know what's up ahead. Life is finally coming together. It's still rough. You still feel like you are not going anywhere, but you are getting closer. You can feel it. You smile, but you still wanna cry. You know that God has his hands around you, but you're scared that you'll mess something up before you get there. You keep pushing on. Refuge is just beyond.
The current is moving faster. You know the safe spot is up ahead but you are afraid you won't be able to stop. You feel as if you will get swooped away in the storm.
That's when God sends his people. He gives courage to those who love you to step out and lend a hand. They stop you. They make sure you're safe. They love on you. They congratulate you for pushing through. They don't leave after you're safe, they stay. They give you company to wait out the storm. You no longer feel alone. You are surrounded by people that love you.
You reach the spot of refuge. A calm rushes throughout your body. You are at peace. You know the storm is still raging on, but you know you are gonna be safe. You have people around you that love you and want you happy. You can smile. You can laugh. The storm still rages. Harder even, but now you just wait it out. You realize who you are again. You look out at the storm and think to yourself, "wow. I just conquered what seemed impossible." You are safe. You are happy.
The storm comes to a halt. You leave the place of refuge to return home. You finally reach shore. You are home. You are safe. The sun is back out and everything is beautiful again. You know it won't be the last storm, but you now know you have the ability to conquer it. You are an overcomes. You are strong. You are courageous. With a little help from those who love you, you are now free. You can now live your life. You love who you are again.
That's what life is all about. Life is often hard and full of storms. You often feel like you can't go on any longer. You get down and out. You forget who you are. You forget how strong you are. Life is at the lowest. Then you find your refuge. You see how many people truly love you and are by your side to help you along the way. You feel God's presence. The storm stops. You come out stronger. You are at peace. You are happy. You are brave. You have overcome, and you will do it all again.
I will never forget that scary adventure, and the lessons it taught me. We laugh and joke about it today, but in the moment I was so scared. It felt so familiar to me because it was me. It was exactly how I fought my everyday struggles. It took a physical storm to show me how to face my mental storms of life.
With these few steps, I learned how to take action and overcome the storms of life.
Know that storms can come at any given moment.
Show the storm that you're brave enough to fight it. Do not be frightened.
Know who you are.
Realize what you've been through, and how strong it has made you. Know you're worth, and don't accept anything less.
Know who’s you are.
God is always on your side. Seek his guidance. Pray about it. He has you held safely in his hands.
Find your safe place. Stay there until the storm passes. It’s okay to be still during a storm.
Find your people.
Seek out the ones who love you. They will always be there to stand by you and help you.
Do not get comfortable.
Always stay aware that something could always happen. You may be safe for now, but you never know what could happen. Stand your ground.
Keep a smile on your gorgeous face even if you are scared. Know that it will soon be over and you will soon come out on top.
Hold tight to peace, hope, and love.
Never give up hope. Always have peace even when the storm is raging. Love with all your might.
Storms are never easy. They are painful. They seem like they will destroy you, but there are some things you can only learn while your in a storm. If you hold tight to yourself and use the steps listed above, you will always find yourself on top in the end. Wait it out. Storms can only last for so long. You will be a different person when the storm is over. You will be a better version of the person you are now.
Stay strong Darling. You have this under control. You WILL overcome. God has you in his hands. He's in control. Let him be. Praise him in the storm.
Jesus replied: "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." John 13:7
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