Disappointments and Thunderstorms

“Disappointments are to the soul what thunderstorms are to the air.” 
~ Friedrich von Schiller

I’ve spent the past few weeks in Texas, which has been a breath of fresh air for this girl, her kids and husband.  It is great to be with family — wonderful to look out on land with not a building in sight.  What a gift to be able to walk the dog, hands phone-free because I’m just on this glorious stretch of land in east Texas — a haven of safety.  To allow my kids to go off and explore on their own and not worry.
After a year when nothing seemed to go my way, this time away has been a quiet reprieve.

Texas is a place like no other.  From the huge baked potatoes to high school football; from animal print to southern hospitality, when you’ve truly lived in Texas, you love Texas.

I remember moving here as a twenty year old, taking a year off of school to live with my family again, and being completely startled by many things — the size of the cockroaches and how they take flight, the confusing configuration of feeder roads whose absence I now realize is one of the major deficits of Los Angeles, Texas pride, and the thunderstorms.

The first time I experienced a Texas thunderstorm was in the middle of the night, and even as a young adult the crash and subsequent roll of the thunder was so startling that I ran into my parents’ room.  I had never heard anything like it.  As a college student walking across campus, it didn’t matter the size of the umbrella, if it rained between classes, I was soaked from head to foot for the rest of the day.

A storm can be anticipated or it can explode on the scene taking you off guard.  There have been several times on this trip where flashlights and candles are pulled out as lights begin to flicker and a storm rolls in.

I. love. it.

Probably because I can remember only a handful of times it has rained in Los Angeles since we moved there twelve years ago.  Rain, thunder and lightening have become a novelty. I love the anticipation and nervous excitement, the preparation or lack there of, the crash of the thunder and the flare of lightening, the immediate cool down and decrease in humidity, the way plans change or get a little more interesting in the face of the weather, and the way everything looks greener after the rain. But what can bring life and energy can also cause devastation.

When we arrived on JMJ ranch three weeks ago there was a tree that had been virtually destroyed in a storm. It had crashed into a fence and created more than a day’s worth of work — from cutting it down, to chopping it up, stacking the wood, and mending the fence.

The rain storms, the tree, this year and this trip have my mind racing with what-ifs and why nots and the pains of life … How the chopping, cutting, throwing, stacking and mending sent my now city-boy husband into days of discomfort, all because of a storm.

Like I said, I absolutely love Texas and every time we are here it is difficult to leave. This time, the night before our departure I decided to stay behind with the kids for a couple weeks while Matt gets back to work.  We both knew that this decision was right for the whole family, and yet as I was separating our suitcase into two and dropping Matt at the airport yesterday, I got a familiar knot in my throat and hot tears in my eyes, because even though it’s only for a matter of days, when you’ve made a life with someone it becomes inconceivable that you should ever be apart. For us, that’s what love is: Joy in each other’s company. Happiness in memories. Pain in absence.

My older kids had the opportunity to spend a couple days on the ranch just with Papa Price. About twenty-four hours into the separation of kids from parents, I got a phone call that Lucas had been stung by a yellow-jacket.  Lucas is very allergic to bees; within minutes he goes into anaphylactic shock. When your child is in danger, you want to be with him to bring comfort and search out all the help you can — a parent is a warrior, but two hours away, worry was quickly setting in. Luckily, we discovered Lucas is not allergic to all stings, because one antihistimine and an icepack later, he was fine.  Never have I been more acutely aware of the space between us, as I tried to care for him one phone conversation at a time. There is pain in distance.

As I raise my kids and they reach milestones and grasp for more independence, I realize that my life as a mother will be filled with moments of holding on and forcing myself to let go as they become the people they were created to be and reach for the dreams of their hearts. There is pain in growth.

In little and big ways, our lives are filled with pain.

Matt’s Memaw is ninety-three years old. Over the past fourteen years I’ve experienced her as an amazing cook, welcomer, reminiscer and story-teller, faithful wife, advocate of her children and grandchildren, grieving widow, grieving mother, but always a joy finder.  On this visit, I’ve noticed her pain as she realizes that she can no longer do the things that used to be easy, to host and serve, to hoist grandkids on her lap, to walk unassisted.  There is pain in aging.

My sister-in-law Tiffany will turn thirty-seven in a few weeks.  A year and a half ago she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.  Despite many prayers and rounds of chemotherapy the cancer has spread and the doctors don’t have much hope.  Tiffany is living in a lot of pain right now, but through all of the ups and downs of her journey, she has chosen hope and clings to faith — hope and faith for healing, yes, but more than that.  She hopes and places her faith in her God.  Because when bodies fail, there is pain.

“Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” 
— Babcock

It’s strange that in nature, I can experience a storm and anticipate the greater good, and yet when storm clouds come my way in life, I get so quickly thrown off course and flounder and wonder and doubt.

And yet, just as thunderstorms can cause fear and destruction while bringing relief and life, so disappointments can cause pain and suffering while increasing our faith and making us strong in ways we didn’t know possible.

“When darkness seems to win we know that pain reminds this heart that this is not our home.”
(Blessings, Laura Story)

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”
(Hebrews 13:14, NLT)

How grateful we can be that in the midst of a world where trouble seems to take up residence in the most unlikely of places, we are eternal beings, not created for a fallen world, but for a world of perfection, where sin and pain and death cannot reside.

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise
(Blessings, Laura Story)

Start with Susan and follow the links as we talk about pain this month.