On this day, ten years ago, I remember sitting in a hotel lobby with one of my best friends and my fiancé as we watched the levees break. What followed was nothing that I had planned for when looking ten years ahead. Instead, what followed was pain, sadness, brokenness, anger, disbelief, and doubt. Ten years later, and looking back, I can also see grace, forgiveness, redemption, beauty, and hope.
The truth is, we all have multiple defining moments in our lives. Strangely, these defining moments often are the most difficult times for us. It is those moments that make you throw up your hands to God and cry out from the deepest parts of you because you don’t understand why He would allow such a thing to happen. For me – Hurricane Katrina, the loss of ministry after the Storm, the failing of a pastor I worked with in California, the death of friends, and being so financially down that I never thought we would be ok are all times in the last 10 years that have changed me.
For others it may be different. Their moments of change might be suffering abuse, their own addiction, their abandonment by someone they love, the struggles their children face, the tragic loss of a family member, or the disappointment of dreams unrealized.
However, it’s not the moments of sadness, adversity or pain that define us. It is how we ultimately respond and move forward from these seasons in our lives. Of course, that is easier said than done. It’s been ten years since that day sitting in a hotel lobby and I still feel some pain, grief, and incredulousness but, I am so grateful that God never gave up on me when for months, I gave up on Him.
I look back at these past ten years and I see how there is beauty in brokenness. There is not always understanding, but there is grace and opportunity for new life to come from even the most horrible of situations. New Orleans, in many ways has not recovered and in other ways is a better city now. The lessons I have learned from my experience losing a ministry position after the storm, has allowed me to give grace to people who are usually doing the best they can with what they have. Coming to a place of forgiveness to those who I felt wrecked my life, has challenged me to pray continually that I would see people the way God sees them.
After the failing of the pastor in California I saw relationships strengthened, immense grace shown, a community that rallied together, and now there are more laborers for the Church. Learning of loved ones that have passed on or watching those who are terminally sick leave this world has only made me appreciate the impact that each of us have with the time we have. Being financially strapped increased my trust and faith as well as taught me to allow the community around me to help.
Each of these instances, and there are many more, I had allowed to drive a wedge between me and my creator. Yet, it is through these moments, when I was at my lowest, that I cried out from the deep recesses of my soul, that the Great Comforter would give me perspective. It was in those moments that I began to learn to suffer well and to trust, that even though life may not be what I had expected or planned, I am exactly where I need to be.
My hope and prayer is that, though pain is inevitable, I would lean in…cry out…and trust the one who continues to refine and shape me for His purpose.
Until next time…