Hurricane Irma came into our lives over two weeks ago. After a week of continual coverage and build up, she made her way up the spine of Florida. Her track shifted, changed, drifted and did significant damage everywhere she hit.
And where she didn’t hit.
This hurricane was different from any of the ones I had seen before. Tampa did not take a direct hit. But the pressure of preparation was intense. Even when it was predicted to go up the east coast, the size of the storm had people across the state nervous. When it drifted west and took it sights on Tampa, people who were bunkered in fled. At one point, Kristin was talking with someone and they said, “I just don’t know what to do.” I told them, “No one has ever faced a storm of this size or magnitude. None of us know what to do.” There were very few black and white answers to the myriad of questions on preparations, staying/leaving, or what to do afterwards.
In the aftermath, we have moved forward by cleaning up, unboarding and resuming our lives as usual. But even as we begin to see piles of debris being removed (not me), less utilities trucks and stores restocking, life is not usual. There seems to be a tension. Life isn’t normal. People lost a sense of normalcy and peace. You didn’t just go back to work – you had people working while others were gridlocked trying to get back on roads swollen with returnees. So much lost time and progress. Schools were closed and had people still staying there until they finally were able to open. The amount of money spent on hurricane preparations, damages, repairs and even restocking entire food supplies was taxing on regular budgets and finances.
While all this was going on, I was selling my home of 22 years and finishing a remodel of a new home for Kristin and I. It was crazy. I experienced all the emotions and the physical toll of going non stop over the period of 17 straight days. During this time, I was reading an exceptional book called Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens. The author is a former Navy Seal writing to another former Navy Seal who is struggling with PTSD and life after the military. It has so many great nuggets of wisdom. The one that helped me in the aftermath of my weariness was when Greitens challenged his military brother to choose to be something each day. Choose to be strong, courageous, resilient, etc. Choose to be something or let your fear or circumstances dictate what you are going to be.
That day, I chose to be courageous. I thought about it often through out my day. It wasn’t just psychology. Coupled with my faith, God’s Word and His grace, I began to see how I could navigate the challenges before me each day. With so many things out of my control, I was able to choose what I could control – me. Were there challenges and problems – oh yes. Did I do everything perfectly or even some things well – no. But, it recalibrated my thinking and I saw things begin to move forward. I found a new tool.
Today, I am back in my normal…no, things are different. I am different. I have a new understanding of pressure, weariness and the power of choice. I continue to grow.