I love storms. My family has a very specific way of responding to storms. The first way we respond is by shutting off the lights, opening the curtains, and resting as we enjoy the show of dancing lighting, snowstorms, or hail storms because inside the house is safe. The second way we respond is by going outside and dancing under loud, flashing skies while we twirl in the pouring rain. I love to do this because storms present rare, unique opportunities to experience an unusual joy when we dare to embrace them.
My parents weren't afraid of the storms but captivated by them, sometimes chasing them, and because of their positive way of looking and responding to the storms I came to be captivated and love them too. In these responses, I learned not to be afraid of the storms but to prepare for them, because they always come. If you know what to do, and can prepare a little, then you've done your best and have a sense of security. Fear can't stay where there is security. Also, I learned not to get upset, discouraged, distraught, or trapped in fear, but to make the best of the storm. I could cower in fear, wait in misery for it to pass or I can dance in the rain, and find joy amidst the wait, even if that place I am waiting is while hiding in a basement. After all, storms aren't every day and they offer rare adventures. I cannot control storms, they are scary sometimes, and sometimes they threaten my life. I may not be able to control the storms and make them pass faster but I can control my response to the situation I am in, I can choose joy over the negative amid chaos.
At the start of every month, I ask GOD to help me draw a picture on the wall of our cafe that will represent the month. This month, all I heard was "April showers, bring May flowers, dare to dance in the rain." So, I drew a Mexican girl and an American boy playing in the rain. The rain itself was dark, but where ever it touched them it turned into a colorful rainbow of droplets, and from that flowers began to bud. I never seem to understand these pictures until the next month. May is in a week and I finally understand.
This month was full of storms for me. Not physical storms but internal, spiritual ones. Some storms come so fast that you don't realize their severity until it's too late. The waters seemed to consume me so fast and I thought I was going to lose myself, my passions, and GOD. I felt lost at sea, drowning, confronted with myself. My failures, expectations, lack of abilities, lack of perfection, but having the feeling as if I had to be perfect, so relentless striving. All while knowing that I can't be perfect and that I am enough, but that truth didn't feel like truth but a lie, a trap, but I knew it wasn't so, I was angry that no matter what I did I couldn't switch that to my truth and angry that I will never be perfect. I was afraid. This cycle of back and forth thinking was like swimming in waves, one-moment head above water (truth) and relief (acceptance) the next pinned between sand (pain) and water (lies). I have fought storms that were a cycle of back and forth before. I knew that as long as I kept fighting, and swimming then, I could keep getting my head back above water until the storm was over. But this storm was different, there was seaweed (failures, inability, control) in the water. They tell you to float over seaweed, to not try to swim in it because you'll get all tangled and pulled down. But I couldn't stop swimming, after all, I need to keep my head above water I need to fight the lies with truth. But while I was trying to do that I was also trying so hard to fix everything, to do the right thing, get rid of my lack of ability and failure. I was trying to fix the things that were bad in me, things keeping me trapped, so I wouldn't be a disappointment, a failure to others, GOD, and myself. I was afraid that if I didn't free myself, I would lose Him, it would be my fault, and I would die trapped. This issue was my seaweed, I became so focused on getting rid of it that keeping my head above water became impossible. I kept thinking "I can't stop fighting/trying to get rid of it because if I don't I will die and die trapped in sin, a horrible person, and that will keep me away from GOD. I would rather die fighting, knowing that I did everything I could than not."
But recently, GOD told me "Destiny it's time to lay down your sword and learn to rest." "Rest, lay down my sword now?" I thought, "No I can't! But if I don't I fail and failure is keeping me trapped. So no matter what I do if I fight to do what is right, fix, and live then I fail because He wants me to rest and stop fighting. But, if I stop fighting, and struggling I will drown. I lose either way. I am trapped." So, I fought until I came to a point I knew I couldn't survive. The things I knew to do, that prepared me for the storm, the lessons that were supposed to help me get out, not be afraid, weren't enough. Nothing I did was enough. You can't control the storm. So, I gave up. I told GOD "I can't do this anymore. I have tried and tried and failed. I can't, I give up. It's you save me, and our relationship or I'm done for. I will stop trying and trust what you say and you to save me." With that, I stopped swimming, dropped my sword, and went to bed expecting misery or GOD to save me.
I woke up to the light. The night before I had dreamt I had just escaped tsunami waves that pulled cities into them by inches. When I woke up, the storm was over, and I felt safe again, close to GOD, enough. After all, I come away with a lesson. The lesson is some storms require us to fight and other ones require us to stop fighting. When I dropped my sword, GOD was able to get close, pick it up, and cut me free. When I stopped swimming I made the water surrounding me still enough for GOD to get close, locate the seaweed and bring me onto dry land, He couldn't do that when I was trying to.
So, what has this all got to do with a picture on a wall in a cafe, inspired by the GOD echoing the word "April showers bring May flowers, so learn to dance in the rain"? And a girl who grew up loving storms?
I could look at this experience as a failure. I didn't win this, I got lost in the chaos, I only made things worse, I couldn't save myself. But I can choose my response to moving forward. I choose to look back on this storm and be happy because unlike in the moment I can now see the colorful raindrops that sprouted flowers as they hit me. I learned to lay down my sword, learning that it is safe to do so, making me trust GOD more. Also, I learned that the lies were truly lies and that my abilities cannot drown me, or keep me trapped and away from Him because I may not be enough but He is and He still chooses to save me. Overall like how I rested and watch storms with my family I can also choose to rest and enjoy my own personal storms. I can do this by choosing to see the unique opportunity for the joy they bring, by being thankful and celebrating GOD's goodness and mercy and dancing in the rain, instead of being sad and counting my loss for what happened.
This applies to you too. Wherever you are in your life, I hope you learned a few things from this story. I hope you learned that yes you must prepare for storms, but that doesn't mean it will be enough, and that is ok. It is ok because GOD is enough, and He chooses you and says you are enough. Also, I hope you learned that despite the things that happen to us we are in control of the narrative of that experience. We get to determine if that experience is positive or negative; if it will break or build us; if we will dance while it rains and rejoice when it's over. We get to determine if we let the rain stay even if the sun is out.
So, Choose Joy. Dare to dance in the rain.