2019 was not the best year for a number of those in my circle. They ran a gauntlet of calamities ranging from relationship devastation, work dilemmas, health disasters and the loss of loved ones. Most are looking for a brighter and better 2020. Yet some are still caught in the throes of what seems to be, “The Perfect Storm”. As I paddle my own boat amongst them, it struck me that there are two kinds of calamities; Bushfires and Icebergs.
Both are devastating, brutal, and unavoidable. They change your life forever. However, bushfires send a warning whilst icebergs rise out of the depths and take you by surprise. Yet both can be weathered and can propagate fertile ground for regrowth.
Living in the bush is an amazing experience; however, the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 proved, we need to be ready for bushfires. A few years ago our Fire Warden came by and helped us prepare an evacuation plan. She also taught us how to read the conditions so we knew when to be on high alert. Thankfully we had our emergency kit packed and used it when we were advised to evacuate. It wouldn’t have stopped the damage or saved our house if the fires had reached us, but it would have ensured we had the essentials and our most treasured items were safe.
As I’ve mentioned before (Honesty is such a lonely word), my family does death well. Before I turned 16 I had extensive practice in the art of grieving, having lost my Dad, a sibling, and all of my grandparents. However, in the midst of grief, I am exceedingly grateful for the time I was able to spend with my Dad, knowing he was going to die.
When there is a limit to the time you have with someone or something you treasure, you will make the most of every breath, every second, every word; you make it all count. Knowing that a disaster is approaching, affords you the opportunity to grab what you value with both hands, and keep it safe.
I only worked at sea for a short time and as we set out on our maiden voyage we had to be prepared to handle all emergencies. One being Man Overboard. We’d listened to the theory and were informed that there would be a drill at an unspecified time. Sadly our (human) guinea pig had a long wait for us to perfect the drill. Walking on firm ground in one breath, then choking in a dark, turbulent, icy sea on the next, is exactly how an Iceberg experience feels.
A number of years ago, an atomic bomb exploded in my life due to events involving a loved one. Within a second, life was permanently cleaved into ‘before’ and ‘after’; ignorance then devastation. The wound was earth-shattering, the truth was heart-rending, and the reverberations are life-long. I never saw it coming.
No one is immune to Icebergs; they hit hard and fast and give no time for adjustment. In a fractured heartbeat, your life is changed forever.
I have learned through these and other experiences that:
- Priorities change. With the arrival of each catastrophe, comes the adjustment of what is important. Who and what I value, who and what I prioritise, is shifted and adjusted in my “emergency kit”. (1 John 2:15-16)
- I am a survivor. Like everyone, I am only given as much as I can handle. Sometimes I think God has got it wrong, but it turns out He hasn’t. So far I’m still alive and definitely stronger because of my experiences. (Mathew 10:28-31)
- Compassion is a flower that emerges from ashes. The more pain and suffering I experience the better equipped I am to listen. Scars earn the right to sit in the ashes beside those who are in a world of pain. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
- Life goes on. As corny as that sounds, it’s true. In 100 years, or even 50, who will care and what impact will these events have on the world at large? (Psalm 90)
- The Lord is Faithful. He promised He would never leave me or forsake me. And He hasn’t. In the midst of all the heartache, anguish and pain, He was my constant companion in the ashes. (Hebrews 13:5)
- What lessons have you learned from your Bushfires and Icebergs?
- In times of trial, I believe crying, “Why me?” is pointless. What is a more appropriate question?