It’s been a rough week. Come to think of it, it’s been quite the month. Flat tires, endless traveling, short tempers, Frothy Monkey closing for a few days for construction, you know, the norm. To be honest, I’m exhausted.
A couple days ago I hit my limit. I had just returned from a business trip out in LA, my flight home was a red eye so I got in at a lovely 4:30 AM. My body was worn out and somewhat confused, “Should I be awake or should I be asleep?” All day I fought extreme alertness and extreme exhaustion. Sometime in the afternoon I decided to stop working and forced myself to get out of the house. Unfortunately the weather was quite torrential that day, the kind where you can barely see what’s in front you. As I quickly sprinted to my car for cover, I realized I had left my keys in the house…and I had locked the door behind me. So, I was stuck.
Luckily I had my phone. I started frantically calling every person I knew who wouldn’t be working at an office that afternoon. Call after call, no answer. I was starting to get frustrated. I huddled under my carport but the rain got harder and harder and the wind slapped water against my face. The harder it rained, the angrier I got. Soon, I had disowned all my friendships, cursed everyone I knew. After all, it’s their fault I was stuck here. I know you’re reading this and thinking “Dang Sarah, that is pretty irrational.” And you’re right. But in that moment, in the middle of this overwhelming storm, all my irrational thoughts seemed quite sane.
One of my favorite children’s books is, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” The main character, Alexander, is having a bad day. The kind that hovers every kid’s nightmares – gum stuck in his hair, his brother’s picking on him, a cavity. At one point, Alexander decides that he’s had enough, he’s packing his bags and moving to Australia.
Isn’t that always our gut move? Things aren’t going our way and the easiest, best-case scenario is to cut loose, get out of town and start over. Even the other day, as I was shivering under my carport, I was mulling over the idea of moving to a city that doesn’t rain…or one where my friends answered their phones.
The thing is, it wasn’t the rain’s fault that I locked my keys inside the house. It wasn’t my roommate’s or my friend’s or the pilot on the red eye flight I was on. The only person that was to blame for this unfortunate series of events was myself. Have you noticed though, that when everything is coming apart, it’s so much easier to shift the blame onto everyone else than deal with your own issues?
Let’s be honest, life sucks. We get fired or hate our job, we have crappy friends or no friends at all, we get dumped or are forever single. The signs are clear, the verdict is in; everyone and everything sucks! This realization is enough to turn us into hobbits, to crawl into our holes and avoid socialization for the rest of our lives. And if you’re relating to this hook that life sucks, there’s a reason. It’s because we’ve all felt it at some point. Some worldly disappointment that has led us to this conclusion and we’ve experienced first hand how broken and ugly life can be.
One of my favorite Bible verses can be found in John 16:33 – “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I don’t know where I came up with the idea that if I believe in God, if I am a generally good person and if I follow a certain protocol of living “right,” then I will find happiness and prosperity and popularity. Life will be easy and quite perfect. But it’s not something that’s ever been promised. In fact, this verse blatantly guarantees that life is going to have struggles and disappointment. Yet, I continue to live a life of unrealistic expectations. And so, of course when I’m let down, the fall feels that much more painful.
Some storms are uglier than others. There are some where there is no shelter strong enough to keep the rain out. And then there are others that are deceivingly innocent, the kind that seems light and misty but can make your car hydroplane when you least expect it. Whichever the storm, whether big or small, there is an end in sight; because even the biggest of storms eventually end.
The best part of John 16:33 is the “but.” It makes the verse what it is. I mean, if it was just, “Hey guys, life is going to suck” period, statement, game over, then it would be a pretty depressing line. That’s why the ‘but’ is so important and that is this: “BUT take heart, I have overcome the world.” Whenever I’m in the middle of the most painful of storms, I hold on to the promises found in the ‘but.’ Yes, there is going to be heartache, yes I will be disappointed, yes some days I will lock myself out of my house, BUT there is a God who loves me dearly. One who never leaves my side, even in the darkest of storms. There’s comfort in His promises and there’s a guarantee EVERY TIME that even the most painful of storms will eventually end.
I get it. I’ve been huddled under many of carports this year, shivering through the storms, praying for better weather. It sucks. You lose respect for humanity and forget what sunshine feels like. All of this, trust me, I get it. I used to find with each passing storm, there would be a momentary relief followed quickly by a sinking dread for what is yet to come. This constant season of storms is a terrible feeling. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad feeling.
Think about all your favorite lead characters. The ones who have survived unspeakable storms – like Daniel in the lion’s den or Jackie Robinson fighting the color barrier in baseball. These characters are known as heroes, not because they lived storm free lives but because they lived in spite of them. They didn’t allow these devastating, torrential downpours to break them down. They used these moments to make them stronger.
We can spend a lot of wasted energy wishing bad things didn’t happen to us or demand for better circumstances, but maybe instead of wishing for a life that doesn’t exist, maybe it’s time to embrace the rain. No one will ever have a perfect life or have the luxury of living storm-free. So, rest in the comfort that you are not alone in your battles. We’ve all been there and we will be there soon enough. Even in your deepest of storms, find every opportunity to lean on God for strength and every opportunity to find things you are thankful for. Don’t cut and run, stay and let these downpours fuel your faith and make you stronger.
Some days are like this, even in Australia.