Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . Worry

I'm not a worrier. I am, in fact, convinced there's a worry gene, and that my sister got it double strength, leaving me with a lack. And sometimes it definitely feels like a bad thing, this no-worrying. It makes me lax about things I should be on top of. I occasionally wonder if a serious issue would go too long without being noticed by laid-back me. Yeah, that's right--sometimes I worry about not worrying. ;-)

Last night I discovered something I do worry about, and worry about in spades. Brace yourself: the weather.

Yeah. (Sigh.) I get really worried about weather. To be precise, severe thunder storms.

Now, here's the history. I was probably always a little scared of storms and such as a kid, but it got really bad when I turned six. There was a fire on the hill next door, on my birthday, and it gave me a real phobia about fire. And since I knew lightning strikes could cause fire . . .

I got over that. I even enjoy a healthy thunderstorm these days. Really, truly enjoy them. But now, apparently, I get pretty upset when they throw tornado warning/watches into the mix. At night. When I'm supposed to be sleeping, on the top floor of my house, with my kids on the main floor. (This fear started in high school, when graduation was canceled because of tornadoes that sent us all into the auditorium for a couple hours.)

For the second night in a row, we had those warnings. On Tuesday night when we switched over to the emergency broadcast thingy, a nice computerized voice was warning us that a system that "could" spawn tornadoes was spotted in Frostburg, moving east. Ahem--that would be toward my town, about fifteen miles away. The warning included "take cover immediately." 

Apparently those are magic words to make my latent worry-gene activate. Because I don't think I relaxed until the warning expired at 9:37, and if David hadn't stopped me, I would have had the kids out of bed and downstairs with us.

Now, that was for Tuesday, when the forecast just said "thunder storms," no "severe" tacked on. Because they had reserved the "severe" warning for last night. And of course, the news was filled with man-killing tornadoes. We barely had clouds by the time we put the kids to bed last night, but yet again my TV was interrupted with tornado warnings. No rain or anything by the time I went to bed at 11, but I woke up when it started at 1:30.

And the worry kicked in. What if a tornado came while we were in bed? What warning would we have? Would the fire-siren go off? Was that it there?? No, wind. Just the wind. The really strong, gusty wind. And the thunder. And lightning. (Well, hey, at least I'm not scared of that anymore!) The kids were sleeping through it, which was good. But if there was a tornado, and we somehow had enough warning to get out of the top floor, would we have enough time to wake the kids? Could I run fast enough on my still-sore ankle?

Maybe we should all just camp out on the pull-out couch in the basement . . .

I prayed. And I prayed. I repeated like a mantra, "I trust you, Lord, I trust you, Lord, I trust you, Lord to take care of my family." I listened to the thunder (which really wasn't that bad. It's kinda embarrassing how not severe this system was around here, considering my middle-night worry) and strained to hear the tell-tale signs of trouble.

At 2 I got up and checked the weather forecast, just to make sure there were no computerized voices telling me to take cover. The tornado warning was still in effect (is actually still in effect as I write this), but the computer now agreed that this storm wasn't severe, just a storm. I felt a degree better. I went back to bed, told my hubby the update, and he said something along the lines of "Muh huh. Zzzzzz."

I seriously don't know how you midwesterners deal with this so often. Or maybe it's because here in Maryland it's not so common that I get so worked up. But as the storm moved off and I was jumping, now, at the silence (seriously, Roseanna? Now the quiet is making you nervous?? What do you think this is, the eye of a hurricane?), I put some consideration into worry and faith.

Here's what I observed about myself. It's easy to hide my worry when it doesn't interfere with normal operations--like during the day, when I can just herd the kids downstairs to watch TV during a warning. And it's easy to pray the right things, all the things I've been taught, in these circumstances. It's not as easy to let go.

But you know what else? Trusting the Lord through our worry doesn't always mean that we don't worry. Sometimes we're supposed to be worried enough to take care of ourselves and our families. This isn't fretting, it's responsibility. It's okay that I was concerned about getting my kids to safety in the event of a tornado, okay that I was making a plan.

What wasn't okay was that the worry was just as intense in the silence. But then I remembered that prophet (Elisha maybe?) who was running away from the evil queen, seeking the Lord. And He wasn't in the tempest, and He wasn't in the earthquake, and He wasn't in any other fierce, terrible show . . . but He was in the whisper. As I considered that last night, I listened for the whisper. And my shoulders finally relaxed, I could smile at myself, and sleep took hold again.

This morning I woke up with a sore neck, sleepy eyes, and the conviction that even had an F5 ripped through the area like it did a decade ago, even if the worst had happened, the Lord would have been right there, taking care of us. Instead, He took care of us by doing exactly what I prayed and chasing the storm away. I reminded myself that it isn't that the Lord isn't present in the storms, the quakes, the violence . . . it's more that we can't hear His still, small voice until we quiet the rage within and listen.

Listen. Listen to the whisper.

I'll probably always be afraid of tornadoes. That's probably a fairly healthy fear, as fears go. I'll probably wake up again when I know there's a warning and be nervous. But you know what? Next time I don't want to wait until the storm moves off to hear the whisper. 

Next time, I'm going to find the whisper in the storm.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I think my worry gene would come out then, too. Praying for your safety and peace of mind.
    Love & Blessings,