broken but not crushed

Helping each other live successfully and abundantly in the face of brokenness.

Location: Columbus, Central Ohio, United States

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Storm Damage Cleanup - part 3 in the series

Storms come. We didn’t need to make that discovery on paper, most of us have been in the storm and we know that they come without warning, without mercy, without asking permission. They just come. And often they come in hard and fast and deadly. We also established that storms usually cause serious damage and that we need to wait till morning to assess that damage in the light of day. We dare not make foolish decisions nor should we rush into the darkness in some attempt to fix what’s wrong. Rushing in can be as deadly as the storm itself.

But today I want to make sure you understand that it is just as foolish to just keep waiting …

and waiting …

and waiting …

and never doing anything about your own storm damage. Yes, life’s storms can seem to “knock the stuffing” out of us. They can leave us hurt and hurting and wandering if we even CAN get up again. They sometimes leave behind such a massive amount of destruction and debris that we might be convinced there just isn’t even a reason to try again.

But you will never know until you try, and that is the point of this short blog today. Far too often I have met and counseled people who have faced a personal storm and are now afraid to pick up the pieces and start again. The storm scared them into indecision and fear paralyzed them into inactivity. And the longer it goes on like that, the less likely they are to ever want to try again. Instead, they are like a ship without a rudder – aimlessly adrift on life’s sea, without purpose or direction.

The biggest problem is that those in that state of indecision get used to it. The storm’s destruction that looked so stark and terrible in the light of day begins to look less and less terrible, until we rationalize it into acceptance. “There’s nothing I can do about it so I might as well get used to it” are the usual words we hear. We even convince ourselves that we really have tried to take care of it and we “just can’t do it”. And the longer the storm damage is ignored, the more it becomes just another part of the landscape of our character.

So what do we do to make sure this does NOT happen to us? As we found out yesterday we must first give ourselves time to heal and time to get used to the new realities. It took me at least 18 months before (a) the damage had healed and the terrible side effects of the healing drugs finally wore off and (b) I felt confident enough to be regularly in public in a permanently broken state. It has been almost four years since the accident and I am still, almost daily, making new discoveries and trying new ways to accomplish things better. Hear me – this is usually NOT a “flash in the pan, its fixed, let’s get on with things” kind of storm damage cleanup. It is hard work and is incredibly time and energy consuming.

Sometimes people around you will not understand the amount of effort you are exerting and therefore won’t understand why you are so tired (and sometimes irritable). In my case, not being able to walk is a real nuisance, and chronic pain robs me blind. There are reasons they call this thing a “disability”. On those days forward progress is a matter of sheer will power.

But, my fellow travelers, to do nothing is simply unacceptable! I refuse to just curl up and wait to die. It is the coward’s way out of cleaning up the storm damage. No, I may not be physically able to do what I once did though I demand a lot of myself along those lines. But what I can do I intend to do, God helping me.

And that’s what I want to encourage you to do as well. Refusing to do what you can do is a waste of your God given gifts, skills, talents, and graces. I would encourage you to reevaluate the damage your own storm has left behind. In the clear light of day be honest with yourself and then, with a clear head, make a decision to do something – anything! – to begin the storm damage cleanup in your life.

By the way, if you are well along on your way to the end of damage control, then try something new. Talk to a friend or read a good book and find fresh and exciting inspiration to go for something you’ve never tried before. And if you find someone who IS trying something new, lend your encouragement so that they keep trying and continue to grow. Though the storm has probably placed limits on what we might have done had the storm never arrived, there is NO LIMIT on the possibilities ahead nor is there any reason to not try.

So, fellow traveler, go ahead and wait for daylight so that you can heal and get used to the new you, but then do something productive with your life.

Your friend and fellow traveler,


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