The Eye of the Storm

I’ve always loved the rain–the soft, soothing sound of the drops hitting the roof of my house provide a hypnotic rhythm that has always been the perfect reason to sleep late or take a long nap. When Alec was a little boy and there were rain showers I would tell him cheerfully that God thought the world needed a drink. He always loved that scenario.

My mom and Nonnie were fans of the rain as well. In fact, my mom couldn’t wait to get Alec outside after a nice downpour and stomp in the puddles with him. It was a happy, little splash-fest they both looked forward to whenever it poured. But there are times when it seems as if the rain will never stop. I’m not referring to the kind of precipitation that the weather man on the television news forecasts.   I’m talking about the rain that invades your soul.  I’m willing to bet you know exactly the kind of rain I’m describing.

It rains and it rains and it rains until the drops pour down your face with no end in sight. This kind of rain puts you to sleep as well, but in a very different way. I’m referring to the silent rain to which the rest of the world is oblivious. The precipitation that fills your eyes to the brim until eventually, it can no longer be contained. The downpour of tears that have fallen out of my eyes in my lifetime have certainly been enough to flood the streets of my soul. When does it ever stop? Can it possibly rain forever?

Why is life so hard and where is God’s umbrella when we need it? I know God promised He would never destroy the earth with water again and I’ve searched relentlessly for the sign of that promise, but I still can’t find my rainbow. The storms of life can be relentless at times and there doesn’t appear to be a shelter in sight. Not only that, but the world is completely blind to the torrential downpour and all of its destruction, or at least that’s how it feels.

Have you ever felt that way?

Occasionally I feel like I’ve weathered the tsunamis of life, somehow floated to dry ground somewhere, but never really been able to escape the clouds that seem to be hovering over my world. Is there sunshine on the horizon? The forecast so often appears to be rain with a chance of gloom and doom. Do we deserve the storms that life sends our way or do we create them somehow?

I remember when I was a freshman in high school, I made a hurricane machine for the science fair. I actually could create a little hurricane inside of this contraption my dad helped me build. It was a pretty impressive little machine. When the judges came to interview me about my project they asked me about hurricanes. Of course, because I’m me, I hadn’t really researched the storms at all. I had no idea about hurricanes. Do I look like a science girl? But I figured I had this awesome little hurricane machine and they would be impressed by my little manmade storm and I could certainly BS my way through the interview portion.

The judges asked me about the eye of the hurricane and if I could describe that for them. I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t even know there was an eye. In a vintage Kelley moment, I responded with high theatrics, waving my arms all around and telling them that the eye is simply the WORST and the strongest part of the storm and the most damaging, blah, blah, blah. You get the idea. I looked at the judges faces and knew immediately that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The lady judge looked at me and told me, “nice machine—next time research your subject.”

Needless to say, I didn’t get a blue ribbon. My brother Christopher, however, took that same hurricane machine the next year and won the local and district science fairs and earned the privilege of competing at the state science fair. He also knew that the eye of the hurricane lies at its center where there is absolute calm. That knowledge probably helped him a little, which he taunted me about repeatedly.  I would still tell him to shut his stinking pie hole and he would respond by putting the capital L sign to his forehead and  telling me in his sassiest voice, “Don’t get mad at me honey, you’re the one who didn’t even peek inside an encyclopedia.”

Ugh. Anyway,++ back to the eye of the storm.

Yes, right smack dab in the middle of that colossal storm is an area of total calm. In fact, because of that calm, many people mistakenly think the storm has passed when they are actually still in the middle of it. At that point they are blindsided by the next part of the raging storm called the eyewall. This is where things get nasty and chaotic again.  When you consider this storm, in some ways doesn’t it resemble life?

I don’t think any of us expect that life will always be a cakewalk.  Into every life, some rain will fall, we all expect that. Not everyone is hit by violent squalls in their lives, though, and for those of us who have been, just surviving the tempest is a sign of true strength and courage. Living through one more day is sometimes the most difficult task on our to-do list. We look desperately for any sign of hope that we will survive the current storm.

For me, in the middle of my worst storms, my calm has always been found in my faith. God is the eye of my hurricane. During the onslaught of the most difficult conditions the devil can throw my way, I focus on my God and I find my peace. It’s not an easy or quick fix, I suffer like everyone else, but I breathe, I pray, and in the middle of my stillness, I know God is there. His amazing love empowers me to withstand the second wave of destructive winds and the remainder of the storm.

I’m a big believer in prayer. I pray so much I know I get on God’s nerves. Nonnie always told me, “Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.” As a result, I pretty much pray all day long about everything. If God rolls his eyes, I’m certain I’m the instigator of many, many holy eye rolls. I feel in my soul I can hear God exasperatedly sigh a huge huffy breath and silently impart His message to me: “I got it the first 1000 times you prayed about it–give me time, stop trying to help. Haven’t you heard of ‘let go and let God?’ Yeah, that’s me.  I got this.” 

I have hope, faith, and the amazing love only God can provide, but I’m human and therefore imperfectly and highly impatient. I don’t think I’m alone in wishing some situations in life would happen a little quicker. While God does promise to deliver blessings, he doesn’t promise overnight shipping. Dang. He doesn’t promise two-day shipping, or even priority mail.  Nope.  He works on His time, which is always perfect, but can feel like forever when we are suffering. One thing I can say without any hesitation is that He has always delivered exactly what I need, when I need it, with the perfect outcome. It has just always taken hindsight to see that fact.

So, for those of you currently enduring life’s storms, brighter days are ahead. Keep walking forward knowing that eventually the sun will shine again, and if you open your eyes, you will find that elusive rainbow. I believe it is during the storms that we do some of our best healing and soul searching.  We slowly begin to figure out the things that are important and the people who deserve our energy. That’s why experience is a terrible teacher—it gives us the test before we ever get to take the class.  That’s why it’s so important to really absorb what we learn in our times of testing, because life has no problem making us repeatedly take the same test until we finally prove that we have learned the lesson.

We have all experienced some storms and are all survivors of this thing called life.  It isn’t easy to be human.  Life hurts, we get lost along the way, and sometimes we meet our greatest challenges with no other people beside us. All I can tell you is that I believe one day all of the dark pieces of our lives will come together and be a small part of a much larger, beautiful picture.  When you look at the pieces by themselves, they don’t seem to make sense, but once you have all of the pieces together, just like a puzzle, they fit together perfectly.  If you’re currently in the middle of a downpour, hold on my friend.  The rain will definitely come to an end, but it’s up to us to find the beauty in the storm and the peace in the aftermath.

Always keep in mind the last thing out of Pandora’s box and what it stands for: