There is something about me that allows people to open up to me. I often find myself listening quietly as people pour out things that they have been holding in their hearts. Its true for friends, family and often strangers. Yesterday, after returning from vacation I drove through the drive through of a restaurant down the street from my home. When I ordered my food the lady in the window informed me that there would be a two-minute wait as my food was prepared. While I was waiting she noticed the suitcase in my back seat an inquired where I was going. I told her I had just returned from a vacation; to which she replied how desperately she needed to get away. I reassured her she was not alone I needed a vacation after my vacation. She then began to expound on how she was caught in a tough situation. She is pregnant by a person she knows isn’t good for her and she is unsure of what to do. She continued to run down her personal list of charges against her child’s father.
As she handed me my food I told her that every storm has a purpose. I asked her to think of whether or not she would have been able to accept that this person is not the one for her if she had not been put in a position to consider the impact of this person on her child. I told her to know that she was strong and that I am sure she would find the best option for her life. I began to tell her that no one is perfect and she has to forgive herself for feeling like she picked the wrong man. I wanted her to understand that we have all found ourselves in unbecoming situations and the healing begins with forgiving herself. As she thanked me for listening I ask her name and told that I would pray for her guidance and peace of mind.
A lot of times when I find myself in this situation I just listen because that’s what the person needs. We live in a world where people want so desperately to be heard that they often find healing in an environment that offers them the chance. People will often talk themselves into a solution without me saying a word. I just give them the chance to do so. However, in the times when I am responding to someone who has found a safe haven in me, I regularly find something in the response that is also for me. As I drove away from the restaurant I began to think about the statement every storm has a purpose. This was God working through me and for me simultaneously. The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for me. I guess you can say I have been living through my own storm. Everyone goes through a stormy time in their life at one point or another. I once heard a minister (Pastor Thomas Bessix) say that you are either heading out of a storm or into one. When we are going through a difficult season it is often hard to see the value in it. It isn’t until we are on the other side of the wind and rain that we can see its benefit. However, I believe that if we stop for a moment and survey our turmoil we will see that the storm has come to teach us something.
What can we learn from a storm?
1. Storms come to show us our flaws: There are many things that we go through in life that are beyond our control. However, some of our storms are a result of our own choices. We put ourselves in situations that we know will not end well. We make choices that have a domino effect. These things come to show us that we must be careful with our decision making. We have to consider more than the immediate impact of our decisions. In addition to illuminating our flaws some storms come to show us the areas in our lives where we need to grow. Have you ever gone through something and instead of facing it, you ignored it and the situation worsened? Procrastination will magnify any storm you are going through. Have you allowed your emotions to get the best of you in tough times? Emotional outbursts alienate us from people who could be resources in our time of need. Take inventory of your choices and of your character traits during your storm.
2. Storms come to test our faith: When things are most difficult in our lives we often become afraid. In times of trouble it is easy to forget all the things that God has already delivered us from in our lives. During the storm on the sea of Galilee even the disciples were guilty of ignoring the great miracles of God while in a storm. They witnessed his miracles firsthand and still gave way to fear in times of trouble. Well remember this; faith and fear cannot survive in the same vessel. When you are in the thick of a personal storm turn your focus to the times that God has already delivered you. Turn your heart to things that will strengthen your faith. Recall previous answered prayers and lessons learned. Embed in your heart that he is the same God yesterday and today; rebuild your faith and stand strong. It is important to build a strong foundation to stand on; so find some scriptures that encourage you and commit them to memory. Recall them when you need a faith boost. I often refer to Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11 in my times of anguish.
3. Storms come to push us out of our comfort zones: Some of us (myself included) need God’s help to move past a position where we are comfortable. I do not like change and often resist it even when I know it is in my best interest. I have held on to people, jobs, and relationships past their expiration date just because it was familiar. Because I needed to be moved a storm arose and I was made so uncomfortable in the position or relationship that I had no choice but to move. Examine your turmoil to see if it is simply God giving you a way out of a bad situation.
4. Storms come to prepare you to help someone else: Many times your storm isn’t even about you but about the people you will help because you survived it. Who better to offer advice than a person who has lived through a storm? God will allow you to experience trials so that you can offer real encouragement to a person facing a similar storm. When you have live through something your counsel comes from an authentic place. It allows the person you are speaking to the chance to connect with someone who has survived a battle that they believe in unwinnable. I can remember a time when I was going through a tough breakup and I thought the world was ending. I spent some time with a lady who had done a little living; she told me the story of her divorce and how like me when she was going through it, she thought she was going to break as wide open as her heart. She promised me that if I just kept putting one foot in front of the other I would survive. I needed to hear it from someone who knew my hurt (or even a greater hurt) in order to see my overcoming as a real possibility. We often hide the things that we have been through but I hope when the time comes we all seize the chance to help someone through their storm by showing our scars.
I hope that I am able to continue to sow into the lives of people who cross my path. It is my prayer that something they take away from our encounter helps them weather a difficult time in their lives or encourages them when they need it most. There are plenty of people who have done the same for me during my journey. This topic encouraged me and I hope it does the same for you. Take what you need from these humbly submitted thoughts of mine.
Latasha R. Weatherspoon
The Year of Amen Blog
The Lifted Lifestyle Co.