Many of you know that I live in sunny south Florida. On most days, it is a beautiful place to live. On others, not so much. The recent scare of Hurricane Matthew bearing down on us caused me to realize that my faith is not as strong as I’d hoped. In the battle of PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) vs God, PTSD won.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew was not supposed to hit the Naranja/Homestead area where I was living. It was supposed to hit our neighbors to the north. Yet, both my friend Sue and myself (along with other believers) were urged by the Spirit to get ready. So before the long lines formed at the stores, we’d already stocked up on supplies and were urging our husbands (not believers) to board up.
Fortunately, a friend worked for FPL and the moment she got notice that they were preparing Turkey Point for a direct hit, it moved on our husbands to head to the lumber yard for wood. Again, ahead of the crowd.
Now, before you go thinking we were selfish by not warning people of the impending disaster, that wasn’t the case. But most people just laughed and said they’d put some tape on their windows if things changed.
When Andrew hit, it was terrifying. I don’t have a vibrato voice, but my kids said I sounded like a sheep as I tried to sing praises and hymns.
During the first half of the storm, our roof started coming up. Suddenly something crashed into the front window causing the glass to explode, but the wood held. Whatever it was, hit the overhang porch, and suddenly the roof crashed back into place. At the same time something struck through the roof and water was rushing in.
We quickly headed from the hallway where we planned to ride out the storm and into the master bedroom, as far from the explosion as possible. Once inside, we put a mattress against the door and my oldest son fought it as it and the door tried to open. The dog ran under the bed and I shoved the little ones in the closet and held a couch cushion over them.
In the midst of all this, I heard a still small voice ask, “If I take your children, will you still trust me?”
My stomach sank, my throat constricted and my heart broke in pieces. During the eternity of silence that ensued spiritually, I heard Peter’s words and repeated them to my God. “Where else can I go but you?”
It was then that I became calm, knowing that no matter what happened, He was still God. My children survived the storm, and the monster known as Andrew left our area to wreck havoc elsewhere.
In the months that followed, our family was used to help bring supplies to others, to pray with and for others, even as the Lord sent people to pray with and help us with rebuilding. Studies were conducted and they found out that those who stuck around to rebuild and be useful did not suffer from PTSD like those that fled after the storm.
I’ve been in three hurricanes since Andrew. The first I fled out of town, and it turned out to be nothing more than a tropical storm. The other two I stayed put, preparing and surviving with little damage. So when Matthew was on his way, you would think I was fine, right? Wrong!
Now, I wasn’t in a panic, but the place where I live has no shutters, and my small car prevented me from heading to Home Depot for wood. So while I had all the supplies needed for after the storm, I didn’t have protection from the pounding winds of what was a deadly storm – worse than Andrew because it was moving much slower and more massive than Andrew.
As with Andrew, I took in everything from outside, filled water, planned where I would ride out the storm, and anointed every door and window in the place. Yet, I kept looking at my wall of sliding glass doors both downstairs and up. I kept thinking about the poor condition of the place I live. I went outside and saw that no one in our townhouse development was taking any precautions. And I listened as the reports were saying we could get hit but it was more likely our neighbors to the north would experience the brunt of the storm.
I prayed but got nothing. God was silent. Or was he?
My oldest son, who lives inland in Jacksonville called to say as soon as the grandson got off work they were heading to his dad’s in Georgia (also very inland).
That did it. I needed to get out of there. But what to do with the cats? I have two cats that I knew would be okay, but what if glass broke? They’ve never been outside cats, and I would be too far away to secure them after the storm. That’s when God spoke. “Pet friendly hotel.”
Now, my son was heading to a very small town in Georgia…a VERY small town. It’s so small that the closest Dunkin Donuts is 27 miles away! But I googled it, and would you believe there was not one but THREE pet friendly hotels? Needless to say I packed the cats, dog, and myself into the car and headed north.
PTSD appears to have won out over God. But God had a plan and a purpose. If you’ve seen the news, you know that Hurricane Matthew did nothing to Miami-Dade or Broward county. So why would God allow PTSD to win out?
My grandson has been going through some things. He is a believer, but is not listening to spiritual advice. He’s not listening to parental advice. He’s not listening to anyone, and is telling each of us that the others are all for his recent decisions. Yes, he is a teenager.
But God used the PTSD I was experiencing to move me to my ex-husband’s area, which also brought one of my son who lives in Georgia for the night. This is one of the grandson’s favorite uncles. All of us were able to say the same thing without the “so-and-so thinks it’s okay”.
There was also healing that took place between my ex-husband and myself. On the way home from Georgia, I thought about how we are in the Days of Awe, the days leading up to Yom Kippur, and how we should – during this time – reconcile, if possible, with those we have injured. I injured my ex-husband, and pray that God will continue to heal those wounds we started mending.
All this happened because of PTSD and a storm named Matthew. In the battle of PTSD vs God, PTSD didn’t stand a chance.