Dealing with Devastation
This weekend I was reminded that teachers are found everywhere, in all situations. In the flooded streets of Houston, in the generosity of strangers helping strangers; and in my own heart that shows me the way.
My flight to Houston was canceled on Sunday so I flew to Dallas instead with a plan to drive to College Station to speak at Texas A&M on Monday. When I arrived in Dallas I realized that the hurricane and rain that caused my flight to Houston to be canceled was now causing massive flooding and devastation that would change the course of people's lives.
When people ask why these things happen and "Why does God allow this to happen," the word that comes to me is "Surrender." Events like this teach us that ultimately we are not in control. There is a power far greater than us. Things happen because... things happen. We don't always know why, but they happen. After all, we are living on a big giant ball of rock that is racing through outer space 67,000 miles per hour around a great ball of fire we call the sun. It's a miracle we even exist and don't burn to death from the heat of the sun or fall off the earth into outer space. It's a miracle things are as stable as they are.
If the earth shifted on its axis or the sun burned much hotter we wouldn't be here. But the sun produces just the right amount of heat, gravity just happens to exist and the earth spins just right so we can experience life.
We are here for a reason and as part of this reason we are meant to live, work, deal with adversity, pain, and sometimes devastation in our lives. And while this devastation and pain sometimes bring out the worst in people (because I believe it brings out their worst fears) more often than not we see the power of human spirit. We see this selfless spirit in strangers giving up their houses to complete strangers; in rescuers risking their lives to save people stuck in their flooded homes; in millions of people giving their hard earned money to help others; and in people using their boats to rescue people stranded in cars.
Out of tragedy and devastation we find the real meaning of life. It's not about nice houses, fancy cars or the possessions we accumulate over time. We discover that life is simply about the human and divine connection. It's about our love for one another. It's about finding the best in ourselves when we are dealing with the worst. It is about trusting when everything seems bleak. And it's about realizing that nothing is permanent. We are mere renters on earth and everything is temporary. At some point we will say goodbye to our possessions, our awards, and our homes, whether it's when we are 20, 50 or 80, at some point they will no longer be ours. So to hold on tight is futile.
Every challenge and devastation brings us closer to these truths. Every painful situation and life lesson brings us closer to our heart and the awareness of what really matters.
Love is the essence of life. Everything else is just stuff.
We are not alone and we are not meant to be alone. We were made for relationship and are meant to overcome challenges together.
We will always experience devastations and together we will persevere and rise above them.
Sending love and prayers to Houston,