Are you Emotionally Prepared for the Storm?
The theme verse for Wellspring is, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 As we all prepare for Hurricane Dorian, it is important not only to guard our homes from destruction, but to guard our hearts from fear, anxiety and stress. In the small lulls of busyness before the storm, how can we also prepare our hearts?
Emotional Preparedness Checklist:
Prepare physically, but then create spaces of peace or rest. For some, this means take a break to exercise or go to a yoga class. For others, watch a movie or take a nap. All of us need to take ten slow deep breaths to lower our stress levels, and do this often! We live better if we live in the moment. Just do the next right thing right now. That is all you have control over, so it is enough. God’s got your back for the rest of it! (Romans 8:28)
Let yourself remember how you survived “storms” in the past. A key attribute of those who are resilient is that they focus on past successes. Consider the Bible story of David facing the giant Goliath. His courage was based on his prior successful fights with a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:34-37). He knew God would help him have victory because he had experienced God’s help in the past. For me, that is actually Hurricane Andrew. I find myself today thinking about the weeks of heavy labor before and after the storm, moving, lifting, cleaning and clearing. It was hard work. But I also remember being surprised by our strength and endurance. We faced one day at a time, and each day we discovered strength for the next. We survived, we rebuilt, and good things came out of it. How have you mastered hard things in the past? I bet you can do it again!
Remember that surprising joys happen in the midst of struggles. For Andrew, I remember the sweet fellowship with neighbors as we shared delicious steaks on the grill, eating up all of the goodies in our melting freezers. I remember the beautiful human connections of helping each other, bonds that hold strong to this day. The commonness of humanity is a beautiful thing.
Remember that God is your provider and your protector. As affluent Americans, we can forget this, but times like these help us focus on what we really need (daily bread and water), what really matters to us (our loved ones), and who really provides us these things (God Himself).
Think about enjoying the process. During the storm itself, you will be with friends and/or family, with nothing to do but be together as you wait. Likely, you won’t even be on your devices much! Enjoy the fellowship around lanterns, play a board game, talk to each other. Maybe you could even enjoy a couple of days off work. If the storm by-passes us, that will be your whole experience. If we get damage, enjoy the aftermath of sweat labor with loved ones for a common cause.
Try not to take out your stress on your loved ones. When tensions rise, so do voices and conflicts. Remember that you’re in this together and all doing the best you can. Communicate often about your plans, expectations, needs, preferences for doing things and fears. The more you talk, the more likely it is that you will all be on the same page and reduce the potential conflicts.
Remember that hardships can make us wiser, stronger and better people. Although traumatic events may produce Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), they may also produce Post Traumatic Growth. We actually become more resilient and confident people when we master hardships. This should be no surprise to us, because the Bible says overcoming trials produces perseverance (James 1:2-3), prepares for us a “crown” (James 1:12), and allows for us to experience God’s power and peace (2 Cor. 12:9-10, John 16:33). This storm is an opportunity for growth for you and your family. Take on the challenge and make some good memories.
Make sure your loved ones know your status. Tell them where you are staying, how you have prepared, and how you will stay connected or meet up afterward, especially if you can’t be reached by phone. It can be hard to find each other immediately after a storm like this, and knowing that those we care about are OK will help us feel peaceful in the process. This includes connecting with your church community, so if you haven’t done so, connect now.
If you are being emotionally triggered by this potential storm (beyond normal stress), get yourself in for some therapy before this storm, or as soon as possible. At Wellspring, sessions can even be by phone on online. A bit of calming, centering and understanding of multiple emotions can prevent prior unresolved trauma from escalating the emotional distress of a current crisis.
by Tova Kreps, LCSW
President & Co-Founder