Labor Day Weekend 2022 will long be remembered in Chattooga County. By most accounts over a foot of rainfall was dropped on us in less than an hour with overall amounts exceeding 16 inches by the time the storms were done. As I type this up now, Summerville has just been hit again with more flooding downtown. This trend looks to possibly continue throughout the week.
The most disturbing part of the entire situation was the suddenness and the inability to prepare for what was coming. To my knowledge, there was no warning of the catastrophe that was about to occur. I had prepared for storms that night. I live alone except for Cookie the Dog and Marcie the Cat. Cookie hates storms while Marcie thinks Cookie is dumb for being scared. Therefore, storms during the night inevitably lead me to waking up and holding a 45-pound lap dog in my recliner while she shivers in fear. The cat usually just sleeps.
These storms continued throughout the night and the morning brought forth the surprise we all faced. Everything happened so quickly.
Small businesses, public buildings, homes, vehicles and more were destroyed. People’s lives had been irrevocably changed.
In the past few days, it has been amazing to watch our community come together to aid those most effected by the damage and that is a story within itself.
However, this article is not about the storm, the damage, or the resilient community in which we live. Those are all worthy subjects and will be covered in the coming days and weeks by multiple news sources. Instead, this will be about the suddenness of it all. Oh, how our lives can change in the blink of eye….
Over the past 16 years, I have come to unintentionally live a life of extremes. In the last couple, this has increased exponentially. Instead of the carefully outlined plan I had put together of career, wife, and children, God gave me the career but sent me along a life of adventure instead. I have faced numerous highs and lows on the physical, spiritual, and emotional levels. My body has both performed at levels unimaginable and unexpected but has also let me down at the most inopportune times. My soul has been gifted with an overflowing cup of joy and has been beaten almost into submission from the events of life. Emotionally, I have run the gamut from tears of happiness to tears of sadness.
Through it all, there has been very little middle ground. Extremes, I’m telling you. All or nothing. And when you are dealing with life at this level, let me warn you: You better be prepared to act quickly because things happen fast. Like a storm in the middle of the night…
But see, there was another man MUCH more important than me who lived a life of extremes. He fasted for 40 days and nights, preached in multiple locations with no roof over his head, prayed for entire nights (much more difficult I believe than running all night), performed numerous documented miracles and suffered betrayal to the point of death at the hands of one of his closest friends.
Whether you are a believer or not, in the final three years of his life, Jesus Christ lived life to an extreme that has never been equaled. His actions and teachings have been studied more than any other living being in history.
Still, even in a life of extremes, there must be balance. When we are blessed with good things in our life that give us joy, it is great to relish those moments while realizing that they will be fleeting. And when life tosses us a storm to navigate in the middle of the night, it is ok to feel the pain but know that it too will pass.
God does not intend for us to lead lives of “quiet desperation”. If we are doing that through fear (or any other reason), we are literally living in hell on earth. We have been gifted with a range of emotions that make us feel ALIVE. And speaking from experience, it is on the extreme ends of those emotions in which we feel the MOST alive.
My Chattooga County brethren, I pray for you during this time of despair. I too have been surprised with sudden and unforeseen situations over the past weekend. Many of us now find ourselves at a very low point in our lives with questions that we need answered.
However, those feelings will change with time and our eyes will open to the meaning of it all. It is through difficulties that we have the ability to grow stronger. We become better prepared. We become smarter by learning from what has happened. We become more resilient and are able to handle the issues we face better the next time they occur.
Remember all of these things as you face trials in the days to come. There are times when running that I feel like it is never going to end. But I tell myself that if I just keep moving forward, then I will make it to the finish line. I will eventually be back home on my couch with my dog, cat, and a plate of Chocolate Chip cookies waiting on me made by a member of my church. I know that I will get through it….
And you will too……