We see you.
We just want you to know that you are not alone. We know what it is like to sit day after excruciating day while the heavens pour out their never-ending wrath upon you, wondering if it is ever going to end…and if it does, what might be left of life as you previously knew it.
We know what it is like for your city to become an endless ocean and for your friends and neighbors to become captives to the raging waters as they rise, rise, rise up to swallow everything you held dear.
And we know what it is like to take that first harrowing look at your your neighborhoods, your homes – one that literally knocks you off your feet and leaves you trembling in helplessness.
We see you.
We also know what it’s like to see that first glorious ray of sunshine and burst into tears of joy. We know what it is like to see neighbors from your city and around the world come to your rescue like knights in shining armor – complete strangers sacrificing everything for you. And we know what it is like to look back a year later and say, “We survived.”
As the storms move out, a new reality is about to move in. You are about to do things you never thought you could or would do. You are about to pile everything you spent your life working so hard for on a curb like so much garbage. You are about to hold ruined, irreplaceable pictures of loved ones in your gloved hands as you choke back the tears of desperation through your N95 respirator masks.
We’re not going to lie…it’s going to hurt like hell.
But we want to tell you something else; something that only one who has been through the storm, mucked out sewer water from our basements, cried tears together as a broken community, and rebuilt our lives from scratch can:
You are going to be okay.
It doesn’t feel like it right now. In fact, nothing is okay right now. But you will be. We know, because somehow, against all odds…we are still here, and we are okay.
A year ago today, we were standing knee high in feces infested water mucking out homes and ripping out drywall. We haven’t forgotten. In fact, most of us haven’t completely recovered. It still hurts, but we are healing.
And you will heal too.
Somehow you are going to find the courage to laugh even when there feels like there’s nothing left to laugh about. In that moment when you need it most, an angel is going to show up on your doorstep with a meal…or a shovel…or a hug…and give you renewed hope.
When you feel like you cannot carry the burden of this moment on your own shoulders for a single other step, Jesus is going to step in and hold you up and carry it for you. He was our hope, and He is yours too!
I know you don’t believe it today when the wounds are fresh and gaping – believe me, we didn’t either – but great and unfathomable beauty is going to rise out of the ashes of what is.
A year later, all of Houston holds it’s breath as we watch you flounder under the raging wrath of Florence and all that it will entail for the weeks and months, and probably even years, to come. We want you to know that you are not alone. We see you. We are holding you in our compassionate arms across the miles and raising our voices and hands to Him on your behalf. We are praying for your broken hearts, your continued courage, your strength when you have none, and your direction in the chaos.
Because we see you; we are you.
Here’s our best advice to you: Don’t give up. Today will pass – perhaps like a giant and very painful kidney stone – but it will pass. Tomorrow will dawn. And the next. And the next. And somehow, beyond all reckoning, you will still be standing here a year later looking back and wondering how you did it.
Keep your eyes on Jesus. We know that you cannot stand up today, cannot breathe, cannot think, cannot function. You don’t have to. Just let Him hold you tightly and be your strength. He promised He would comfort us when the brokenness of this world tried to destroy us. He will. We know, He held us too.
Cry. Together as a city, in your bed at night alone, with your family as you pile your belongings at the curb. It’s okay to grieve. It’s hard. So very fricking hard. Your tears are well-earned. We are crying with you.
Stand for one another, and kneel for one another. If you have two bottles of water, give one to your neighbors. If they have two shovels, they should give one to you. There is no ‘me’ or ‘I’ in a moment like this. Just us. Together. Surviving one day at a time. And then kneel together and for one another in prayer. Let this tragedy bring you closer than you’ve ever been. In a year from now, your community will be ten times stronger than it was last week because you have locked hands and held on with all your might and stood against the storm. Together.
There is no good answer for your pain. This is not God’s plan for the world; this is sin and brokenness played out in tragedy. There is no easy way out of the mess. There is hard, painful work ahead in your future. There are no words to make it all better. We know, we heard them all. I want to tell you differently, but there is no magic wand that makes it all go away.
But there is love. Love one another fiercely.
And know this. We see you. You are not alone. We love you fiercely, and we know that you can do this. Be strong, friends.
**To the rest of the world who wants to help, thank you. This article was written for Texas a year ago, but the needs and truths are the same. Please read and think about what you are donating to the people of the disaster stricken areas in their time of need. We know you want to help, so here’s how to do it well. The Wrong Donations – Some Tough Words on Disaster Relief