In October of 2014, my little town experienced a rare and very powerful tornado. I remember driving around town and not being able to process all the damage that I saw.
It was a few months after the tornado touched down, and I found myself driving around town again. I was taken aback by how the debris was still very much visible. Many business signs were still mangled on the ground, or just missing. Many houses and apartments still had blue tarps covering them. Even though the storm had happened almost three months ago and the town had moved on with its life; the ugly debris still remained as a daily reminder of all that had happened.
I began to frown and sigh as I passed the debris on my drive home, and I was struck with the thought that this is also how people react with “storms” in their lives. We endure a difficult situation, pick-up the pieces, and muddle on through, hoping that after a certain amount of time passes that everything will be ok and things will eventually go back to “normal."
However, just like my town, we bear evidence of the storm we endured with our scars, prejudices, walls, fears, hurt, and anger. Our hearts can sometimes be like the mangled business signs on the ground-
At least this is how I felt when someone that I deeply cared about was snatched away from me. Almost 12 years ago, I was deeply infatuated with a boy that made a very poor decision. He had decided to walk along an extremely busy highway while drunk. His drunkenness led him to walk too far out onto this busy highway. This decision cost him his life and caused many others severe pain. He was only 20 years old, and at the top of his class in pre-pharmacy school. I, myself, was only 19 at the time.
His unexpected death rocked my world. I lived through the aftermath of this storm for almost 4 years. Grief is a tricky thing and different for everyone. However, after many years I suddenly realized that I was consciously deciding to stay miserable. I was choosing to keep a wound open that God and time had been trying to heal. Any time I felt like moving on, I also felt extremely guilty, like I was betraying the memory of the person I lost. I feared I was somehow cheapening his life by putting his memory behind me. I was holding on to grief and guilt instead of accepted a healed heart.
The memories finally brought a smile and not sadness. It was here when I realized that God truly “makes all things new” as described in Revelations 21:3-5. God had healed one of my deepest wounds, but I had been trying to deny it. It took 4 years, but I finally took off the band-aid and accepted the wholeness that God was offering me.
As I left the city, I couldn’t help but smile because even though my town had many more months ahead of them to deal with the ugliness and damage left by the storm. I, however, was damage free.