A lot of rain in one place
I admit that I’m a Law & Order fan. Being on the law side of things, it’s my cup of tea. Although the story lines are always great, a recent episode contained a line that literally stopped me cold. One of the characters experienced three significant losses in a short time span and when a coworker asked if she was ok, the response was: it’s just a lot of rain in one place. I really don’t know why this hit me so hard. Maybe because I am experiencing some rain in my life right now. An unexpected storm actually. It wasn’t like I could see clouds on the horizon and prepare for rain, it just hit with hurricane force and the rain is still coming.
Rain in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s vital. Without rain, our planet would wither and die. The sticking point is a lot of rain in one place. An occasional rainy day is tolerable. We can have our cute rain boots and umbrella as we run from one place to another trying to escape the rain. A few rainy days in a row gets harder. The clouds block our view of the sun and the blue sky. Everything is damp and humid. Maybe our sump pump stops working and things flood a bit. A week of rain is almost intolerable. We doubt the sun even exists, things may be blowing around our yard, we can’t get outside to do anything, there may be damage and flooding to our homes. We can do little but try to salvage what we can and pray that the rain will end. And although rain is necessary, too much can destroy.
We’ve all heard sayings about rain, such as “into every life a little rain must fall” and “if we never had rain we wouldn’t appreciate the sun”. However true these statements are, when it’s your house flooding and your life being shattered, phrases do little to bring comfort.
My life hit flood stage a few years ago. My younger son spent days on a ventilator after being diagnosed with heart failure. I had no idea whether he would leave the hospital alive or not. He lived but his life took a drastic turn, he moved in with me and we adjusted to his new life. Several months later I took a new job, not knowing I would have the boss from hell. He devastated my self-esteem to the point that it affected me physically, ending with a trip to the emergency room with a panic attack. Although I didn’t tell anyone at the time, I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. I lasted three months at the job until he fired me the day before my future daughter in law’s bridal shower. I was terrified of the future and how I was going to make it. I had no idea where I would go from there.
On the night of my older son’s wedding rehearsal, my house was broken into. Physical things were stolen of course, including my grandmother’s wedding ring and other meaningful items, but my security was shattered as well. My refrigerator stopped working, the washer flooded the laundry room, and I had a sick cat as well. I remember sitting in the vet’s office crying because they wanted me to feed her a special food that I could not afford. I think it’s safe to say that I was at a pretty low point. I had a daughter and ill son to support but honestly wasn’t sure I would be able to work again, and if so, not in the legal field.
I can’t say that the sun came out and miraculously dried up all of the rain. It didn’t. But I did have to get a boat. Eventually the rain did stop and I had to go about cleaning up the mess it left. If you’ve ever had any type of flood, you know how overwhelming this can be. And when things are overwhelming we don’t even know where to start. While I can’t give you five easy steps to clean up your life, I can share some steps that helped me.
For me, the “boat” I had to step into was help from others. Being a former staff member at a large church, I was the one helping people. Being the one in need of help was somewhat different for me, but I literally had no choice but to because I knew I would drown if I didn’t. The thing was, I had to ask for it. So many things stop us from asking for help when we need it the most. Pride, shame, fear of being a burden to others, and so on. I’m a private person by nature and for me, the first step was asking for help in a public setting. It felt odd and uncomfortable but I made a Facebook post saying that I had lost my job and was asking for support. Not monetary support but prayer, encouragement, talking, etc. This was one of many steps I took but it was the first. Because faith is central in my life, I asked others to go to God on my behalf. Of course I prayed for myself but sometimes the only prayer we are capable of is help.
When you’re having financial difficulty going to the doctor or a counselor seems almost wrong
(I lost my health insurance with my job) but it was an absolute necessity. At that moment, I did need medication. Again, this held some shame for me as I felt weak, especially as a Christian. But it was what I needed in the moment. If I had the flu and there was a medication available to help me, I would take it. There’s no shame in needing medication. I also connected with an amazing counselor who gave me wisdom, insight, direction and prayer that I could not have come to on my own. She was a lifesaver to me.
I was also transparent with my friends. I have no blood family other than my kids so friends were a lifeline. When someone asked what I needed, I didn’t gloss over and reply with a stock answer, I told them what I needed in that moment. Sometimes it was to talk and process. Sometimes it was to ask an opinion. Other times just going out for a coffee and prayer. Or chocolate.
Unemployment and food assistance were a God send but again, carried a sense of shame. Not that these are shameful things but we can feel shame that we are unable to support our families without them at the time. But there is no shame in making use of resources that are available to us.
Right now it’s raining in my life again. I’m not certain when it will stop, how much I will have to clean up when it does, or what that will look like. But I do know it will stop. If there’s a lot of rain in one place in your life right now, look around for a boat. And don’t be afraid to get in it when it comes by.