It was early morning, the kids fell back asleep tucked in their car seats and wrapped in their blankets. I had iced coffee and Sanders Bohke filling the car with soulful rich music. It was a beautiful way to start our 12 hour drive home. I was waiting for the sun to come up and greet us. I was looking forward to the start of a brand new day, with the hopes of being filled with adventure and giggles from my kids as we sang silly songs and played games in the car.
We were heading west, so I watched the first signs of orange and red in the rear view mirror. The further we drove however, it was clear that there was a huge storm in front of us. At one point, immediately after the kids woke up, the sun was shining behind us, there were gray clouds over us, with slight sprinkles that brought out a double rainbow, but in the distance, I saw the blackness and I worried. Big still really struggles with storms. His triggers are dark clouds and thunder and instead of being safely tucked in a home under its protection, we were traveling in the big metal box that he saw damaged and pierced with tree limbs in the tornado two years ago. His faith in our current protection was shattered as he too noticed the black clouds coming. He looked out and said in a high pitched worried voice, “mama, its coming! Look, something bad is coming!”
I tried to reassure him that we would be OK. We worked on reality therapy. I would ask him questions like, “Does thunder hurt us? What is thunder? What happens if it rains? Who is bigger than this storm? What has you worried the most?” All these things he would answer, trying to hold onto the truth that the rain doesn't hurt and the thunder is just noise and we are never left alone.
But then we drove in the storm and even I got afraid. Never in my life have I driven through such a storm. It was almost like a winter white out, the rain was coming down so hard I couldn't see if front of us. The sky moved from grey, to dark, to midnight black. The rain pounded our car so hard that I couldn't even talk to the kids. I had to scream to them that we were all right which just seemed to make it worse. The thunder cracked so loud the windshield shook at one point. The lightening would pierce the sky over and over. My hands were white knuckled on the steering wheel and I kept questioning whether we should pull over and stop and wait it out. I knew though however that if I kept focused we could push through and get through the storm faster, than just sitting in it and waiting for it to pass.
I needed my kids to trust me. I took my eyes off the road for one brief moment to check the review mirror to make sure they were OK. I saw all three kids huddled together with their blankets over their heads. I saw Big, Middle and Little all holding hands.
As I drove through that storm, I am sure my children wished with all their might that I would pull over and find a safer place to be. They wished that somehow I could make the storm stop, to just make it go away and bring the sun back. But I wasn't doing that. I kept driving through the storm and I needed them to trust me. I needed them to trust me to make the right choice in driving through the storm. That I knew when the storm was OK to drive through, and when it was time to pull over. I needed them to trust that I would keep them safe even though they were scared. I needed them to trust my love for them, that even though things were very hard right in this moment, I wouldn't do anything to hurt them. Even when it felt absolutely terrifying, I needed them to trust me.
And then the rain started to ease up. The thunder slowly started to sound softer, and the lightening was no longer flashing in the sky. Streams of light starting to shine through the clouds and all of a sudden, we were on the other side. The blackness we just drove through was behind us, reflecting in the review mirror, and the light was bright in front of us.
We had made it.
The kids slowly pulled down their blankets from their heads, and peaked out. They cautiously looked at me and asked, “Is it over? Are we safe again?”
Yes. We made it through. Even though it was scary and hard, we made it through.
In the midst of the storm it was impossible to imagine it being over. The storm raged so loud around us that it was all we could see, all we could hear, all we could live in. I wasn't thinking about when it was over, I was thinking about, how do we live in this place right now and be OK?
And then God spoke softly in my heart, reminding me of how little I trust him when things are truly hard and overwhelming in my life and all I can see is the pain and the suffocating struggle of every day. In that moment in the car, he begged me to trust him, just as I wanted my children to trust me.
There are days when I shut down and I hide in books or TV or FB or Twitter and I don’t want to come out. I don’t want to face the things that make life hard. I hide instead of handing my struggle to the Lord really learning what it means to trust him to guide me through it.
My children made it through that terrifying experience in the car that day. While we walked back to our cabin this week in the black hills of SD, there were black clouds approaching and thunder rumbling in the distance. As Big squeezed my hand, he looked at me and said, “We made it through that bad storm in the car mama, we can get through this one too.”
That is the great thing about trust. When you put your trust in the one who can provide for you and get you through, every storm gets a little easier because they have proven to be trustworthy. They become someone you can count on.
I spoke to Henry that day in the car and recalled the storm experience for him. The first thing he said to me was, “You have a story in there.” And he was right.
God has a way of taking the moments in our life and turning them into truths that we can hold on to get us through this journey called life. These moments that can ground us in peace and love as we fight through the storms of life. Our little family was scared that day, but we are stronger for it and God rested his peaceful hand on our hearts.