Storms in life are inevitable and yet somehow I (maybe you too?) am usually surprised when they appear.

Out of nowhere.

The other day I stood outside and felt the wind pick up. As I looked overhead and saw the dark mass swooping in, I quickly captured the raindrops falling alongside the brilliant sun.

The storm did not fit into my plan for the day.

You might recognize the scenario. Life feels good, giddy even, and then suddenly you look up. The sun shining on your oasis lies in the path of a menacing cloud ready to gobble it up. The sky is a bit fuzzy with haze and the drops splashing on your face encourage a run for cover. Most of the time these squalls throw harmless sounds around, nourish the ground, and then quickly move on.

Physical storms are bad enough. What do we do when the occasional emotional storm lashes our life, stays for an unwelcome amount of time, and leaves destruction in its path? For many of these storms I believe there are three ways to act and respond.

Prepare

In a healthy, non-anxious way we can prepare for life storms to the best of our ability. Many people have a stash of emergency supplies for bad weather and natural disasters – water, sturdy shoes, food, flashlights, batteries, etc.

Just as we store some supplies to meet basic physical needs, we can prepare for the emotional and spiritual storms of life.

  • Have a personal support system in place – friends, family, neighbors. Know who you can lean on in times of need and provide the same support for them.
  • Stay connected to a larger community – neighborhood, city, church, places where you are known and nurtured.
  • Continually feed your brain and spirit with positive messages – books, encouraging posts on social media, uplifting stories of other people who overcome challenges.
  • Memorize and hold inspiration inside – meaningful song lyrics, poems, quotes, and Scripture.

Pay Attention

Often a storm will appear without warning but many times we are able to see signs if we pay attention. I don’t mean living in fear or anxiety (these can be obstacles for me if I’m not careful) but living with intentionality and awareness.

Life can overwhelm us with busy tasks and chaotic schedules. Push the pause button every few days and do a quick review of the different aspects of your life.

Just stop and breathe.

Look around and evaluate how events unfold.

Spend quality time shoring up outer relationships and inner steadiness.

Press On

No matter who you are, where you live, or what your circumstances look like, life can be hard. I know a pastor who says, “If you’re not in the middle of a storm right now, get ready ’cause one’s coming!”

I never welcome storms and I do my best to pay attention (so often I am surprised by them!). When they rage, I rely on my preparation and reach out to people who will remind and encourage me to press on.

Death, illness, unfulfilled dreams, job loss, natural disasters, man-made disasters.

These. Are. Tough. Times.

I try to remember that every bad situation or challenge provides an opportunity to grow but I can’t do it on my own.

We can’t do life alone.

So gather your peeps, your community, your grounding inspiration, your faith. Resolve to press on, press forward in life. There is a great reason for you, unique you, to be right where you are, to pour your beauty and talent into the world around you.

Storms may come into your life but they do not have the last word.

The sun will shine again.

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*When you have encountered a storm in life who or what helped you press on?*

(One of my favs: Isaiah 40:28-31 – “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”)