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April 27th, 2011. Tornadoes. One. After. The. Other.Even with a tornado watch issued, then the warnings. the twisters were slightly predictable at best and seemed to barrel down as random like rookie bowlers. Houses here, houses there. Businesses and fences here and utility poles and lost jobs there. Lives here, lives there, and sadly, lives everywhere were impacted in some way.
I put myself in the mind of a little child, trying to wrap a curious, afraid and undeveloped sense of the world around all of the disaster. Childhood images of wrecked lincoln log and lego structures catapulted me into this mindset as I saw horrific pictures displayed on the television and newspaper. Everywhere you look, blue tarps precariously hung over parts of homes like napkins over a picnic plate. Everywhere you turn, chain saws noisily reve up and pierce the air like race cars. There are odd experiences of finding furniture in trees, report cards from 50 miles away and homes only half destroyed..the other half still had pictures on the walls. There was an overwhelming odor overload of gasoline, pine, cedar and dampness.
I’ve always been one to ask questions. I probably was born asking the doctor for his credentials and my parents to explain why the light was too bright as I fussed as nurses bundled me like a mummy in a pink blanket and couldn’t talk with my hands. Being curious is a lifetime profession for me. If I were a child, what would I ask when all of the power was out for our entire county for 6 days and under a curfew at night?” Do tornadoes have teeth”? Houses look like they have been bitten or chewed up completely. “Why are tornadoes so rude and mean”? I was always taught to play fair and not tear up my toys or other people’s stuff. I would wonder,Iis God made at me”? I’d be a fidgety bored kid, feeling as if I’m in a darken time out and only able to eating canned beenie weenies and peanut butter crackers for days.
Perhaps, these are even harder questions I would be begging to ask. Impatient me would have to know the answers. Being a trained storm spotter, I normally would have been very busy that April day. However, I was not home when half of hell seemed to be turned loose, etching their way through Alabama. I did not experience first hand the eerie darkness, the screaming winds, the panic or the force of nature which seem to flick emotions at random, just as it flicked barns into neighboring counties. Nevertheless, I was afraid. I was afraid for my family. I was afraid for our home. I was afraid for the hardships I knew were playing out before the day ended and night drapped over hundreds of miles. I was afraid because I did not know the answers and could not get to my home because of all of the damage and outages. For days.
Of course, tornadoes don’t have teeth. No, they aren’t mean and rude because those are human qualities we tend to slap onto something we don’t understand. And, most importantly, no, God was not mad at anyone hurt from the tornadoes. Nor, was He punishing people with the county-wide curfew from dusk to dawn. We, as adults know most of these answers just because we have been around long enough to either have asked or gotten the information we need off of the internet or through plain old life.
Some people, however, treat things that happen to them as if those situations do, indeed, have teeth. Guilt and shame with owners complete with spurs ride on the backs of many. Shoulders carry feelings wrapped in tarps of fear or unworthiness. It’s all someone elses fault, bad karma or God’s just plain mean. Question after question goes unanswered or the answer is not what they want to hear.
We are promised, if we have the faith of a child, the size of a mustard seed (teenie), we will be comforted. We will have the knowledge we need for the moment and the wisdom to dispense it later. We will have the strength and courage we desperately want. We will always be a child of God. His answers satisfy, even when not fully understood. He always listens. He’s always there. Go ahead. Ask. He’s even awake 24-7, if you need to run something by Him in the middle of the night. No question is too childish, by the way.
Whether you are walking around in fear, sitting in silent shame, crawling around in dark moments, remember to ask. I just did for something particularly personal and annoying to me. I feel much better now. Ask, receive and always, be kind.