If you’ve been on social media for long, you’re probably familiar with this meme:
It’s a pretty bad-ass line. It’s something I’d hope to use if I were ever to face the personification of the storm. It’s brilliant bravado. It’s one of the lies you tell yourself when you’re alone and you have to just get through.
I’m reminded of storms today. The message at church was about storms. Someone posted the storm meme on my Facebook feed. My response was: “I’m not the storm, but I’m the stubborn, stupid SOB who’ll still be here when the storm is over.”
The problem with both responses was the choice of personal pronoun.
Storms dwarf us as individuals. A blizzard can have wind chills cold enough to freeze exposed skin in seconds. A hurricane can blow structures over. Its storm surge can sweep you out to sea. A tornado can drive a blade of grass through a telephone pole. The strongest of us cannot possible withstand a storm alone for more than a few minutes.
For me, 2015 was a perpetual storm. I’m reminded of it as I’ve been sick for most of January and was just diagnosed with the flu. I don’t think I’m headed into the sequel, but even if I were, I’m smarter now.
We cannot withstand the storm alone. I sure didn’t. My wife was a freaking monolith of strength–at least in dealing with me. I had a friend at work who more or less dragged me along at points (which is okay, because I returned the favor).
And for me, at least, the God I claim to believe in was a little involved. I don’t want to turn this into a sermon, but I would ask that you indulge me a bit. Even non-believers, in some cases, would buy the love your neighbor part of the Christian gospel.
The thing about storms is they’re inevitable. You can avoid a lot of them by good design. But inevitably, you will experience one. You can’t do it alone. You weren’t designed to do it alone. From our earliest times, we were built as social beings. We were built to recognize that you need someone else.
When you can run you walk. When you can’t walk, you crawl. And when you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you. That sequence contains an implied social contract. Sometimes you have to do the carrying.
The God I try to believe in is loving. But he’s a sarcastic pain in the neck sometimes. When the storm comes, the people who’ll weather it with you aren’t always going to be your choice. They’ll be Democrats or Republicans (which every irritates you more). They’ll be Christians or atheists or people who are spiritual but not religious. They’ll be vegans or be the ones who still laugh at People Eating Tasty Animals (PETA). They may even be (shudder) Patriots fans.
Any port in a storm.
Our strength isn’t our ability to be the storm. It’s our ability to withstand storms. Together.