A month ago I was preparing to leave Oahu while its residents were abuzz preparing for a hurricane. As a Colorado native, this is a new kind of storm for me. I am used to severe thunderstorms and blizzards. This new type of storm may be different for me, but the feeling in the air was the same. Hawaiian and Colorado residents alike prepare for storms by stocking up on toilet paper, bottled water, and milk. Plus Ramen and Spam were flying off the shelves! Ok, ok, that’s just here in Hawaii. Nonetheless, there was a tangible panic and anxiety you can feel in the air.
The night before I left I lay in bed listening to the plastic vertical blinds rattle with the wind, five packed suitcases stacked in the hallway, and I’m ready to fly alone with my four kids in the morning ahead of the impending storm. As if that wasn’t dramatic enough, our purpose for flying was actually to be with family. We were rushing to go be with my dad who had just been diagnosed days before with stage four pancreatic cancer. He was in the hospital after a few procedures. There was an urgency to be by his side, for all of us to be with him.
I was reminded of a quote I had just read the week before from Girl Wash Your Face, “…you will revert to the highest level of mental training.” I began thinking about this situation and what training I could fall back on spiritually and emotionally. This last year has been a year of training for me. As I left the only home I had ever known in Colorado I was a mess. My heart pulled me to go, but my brain thought it insane as I sent my belongings in a crate over the Pacific. I found many days face down in a pillow feeling alone, scared, overwhelmed, and incapable of getting through a day without snot crying to my husband. These moments I’m Hawaii were training as I searched for strength and purpose in what felt like another country. I dug deep as I looked to change all the things I struggled with for years. Which were being overweight, dependant on a city I loved, but more importantly I lacked depth spiritually and I longed to be free from all of this.
Moving to Hawaii seemed like the biggest storm I had ever faced at the time. Despite having walked through many other types of storms in my life, like a miscarriage, having three children under two, or being in an abusive relationship when I was young. My highest level of training for years was reaching for food to cope, numbing out to the tv, or embracing the victim role as to hand off the responsibility of my choices.
This year I stepped up and out, put myself in vulnerable and uncomfortable places to increase my training. Training is NOT comfortable. Have I emphasized this enough?
There’s a strong military presence here on Oahu. A friend of mine forward me a report from the Navy about the hurricane. A lot of it I didn’t understand, but it was all about the systems they had in place. If this happens then this step will be taken. If the waters and winds get to this level then we will do this. How do they know how to put these emergency procedures in place and then carry them out? They TRAIN. Rigorously for hours, days, years at a time. Knowing what to do in an emergency situation is second nature to them. This difficult is when I will fall back on my training.
What training do you implement in your storms? Do you run to fear and anxiety? Do you just cope the best way you know how?
Here are some ways I have trained for the storms:
1. Daily life Training. Humbling my heart in all situations to let God use the small storms to change my way of thinking. I can’t tell you how many times I was put in daily situations where I wanted to cry. If you follow me on social media, you know this usually happens at the grocery store. My main training ground, Ugh. Who knew the aisles of Costco were training ground for a bigger purpose? Certainly not me at the time. Well, God can use anything, including that bulk food hell hole. Where you find yourself struggling daily let God use it to mold and shape you. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you just have to be faithful and patient to what you know. Reacting to the stress of life daily in such a way that when a bigger stressful situation arises you can fall back on that higher level of training. So many years I saw the mundane tasks of sweeping the floor and wiping butts invaluable, but your consistency and love in the small things will add up to strength and power for the big things.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
2. Seeking quiet time and peace. Creating that space has not been easy for me. I had to give up the good (sleep) to get the great (peace). Waking up at 5am was not my favorite habit to form at first. Yet, after a few weeks, I found myself waking up before my alarm and even excited the night before as I thought of the quiet space on my couch, just me and Jesus. Longing for the time of meditation where I still my thoughts and where God met me in the quiet to train my brain and heart. Even if my prayers were simple and short. He filled me. By making my slate clean and clear every morning I was able to take on the chaos and business of the day.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8
3. Self-improvement. Mind, body, and soul. This training was so hard to embrace. It’s so hard to admit when we are weak and unhealthy. Then to put things in place to give up the comforting, yet unhealthy, habits. Again, if you follow me on SM, you know my health journey and weight loss story. As I replaced each bad habit with a good one, not only was my body and excess fat effected, my mind became stronger and my heart freer. I was given tools in my program to change my body, but it ignited so so much more. The healthy trio is so important! I also reached for scripture and books that spoke into the areas of my life I wanted to improve. My mind, mind body, and my soul.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Galatians 5:16-17
Don’t despise your humble beginnings and difficult days, they might just be the very things training you for your next storm.