Irma Afterthoughts: Am I Angry or Afraid?

 In anxiety, fear

Next year I’ll celebrate 30 years of living in the good ol’ Sunshine State. I love my state. I love my city (Lakeland) within my state. I love the year-round sunshine (even if I get jealous when people post pictures of fall leaves). I love living close to beaches and Mickey Mouse and more fun things to do than I could experience in a lifetime. I love that we are a melting pot of cultures. I love that we have some of the best strawberries on the planet. Simply put, I love my state.

I do not, however, like hurricanes.

Irma. She started as just a rumor. I’ll admit, we Floridians will sometimes ignore hurricane talk because we are so often blessed enough to be bypassed by these horrid storms. I had even joked how last year with Hurricane Matthew we had quite enjoyed a day off school with little-to-no hurricane effects as Matthew made a dramatic change in direction. We simply sat around with family, ate junk food and laughed.

This would not be the case with Irma.

I first felt a small pit of anxiety in my stomach on Monday evening. The Facebook posts were growing in number and alarm and it made me think to myself, “Oh, I’ll just pick up some extra water in case.” By Tuesday, the pit in my stomach had grown as I watched those around me get in fights at gas stations and empty the shelves of batteries. By Wednesday, the pit had overtaken my stomach entirely and was now choking the very life out of me. I was in full-on panic mode. My sleep was interrupted, my teeth-grinding came back in full-force, and I noticed myself snapping at people for no real reason.

It’s scary to sit inside your house waiting to lose power. It’s scary to sit in the dark waiting for a massive hurricane to roll over you. It’s scary to put your kids to sleep in a closet because you’re afraid of shattering glass hurting them. It’s scary to be told by news personnel to buckle up because “this storm is huge and it’s coming.”

Ask any Floridian right now, and they’ll tell you they want a LONG break from the terms “hunkering down,” “mass power outages” and “cone of uncertainty.” We are tired. Many are still without power. We’ve lost fences and trees and windows and all the food in our fridges and freezers. Our lives feel completely unsettled. We’ve had to leave our homes to find cool from the oppressive heat or just to get a hot cup of coffee. We’ve feared and feared and feared some more, and we’re simply worn out. We want normal life back.

If I’m honest, this storm did a number on me. I’m not over it yet. Every anxiety trigger I didn’t know I have (and many I did know I have) was triggered. I’m restless. I feel jumpy. More than anything, though, I feel ANGRY. This seems like a really dumb emotion to have against something that is clearly out of my control. But that’s just it, I think. My husband described fear in his message yesterday as “A heightened vulnerability + a diminished sense of power,” and that made SO much sense to me.

Have you been snapping more than usual in the last week? Are you angry for no apparent reason? Maybe you’re not angry.  Maybe you’re just scared. We feel scared when things happen to us that are beyond our control. That fear can cause us to want to fight. Since we can’t fight certain things (a hurricane, for example), that sense of urgency has no where to go and just turns into anger.

Emotions sure are tricky, aren’t they?

This week is a chance for a new start! God sees and knows. He understands that we are scared and that we’ve become angry and all He asks is that we be still and let Him be God (Psalm 46:10). We can’t fight these things. They are bigger than us. But there’s good news: they are NOT bigger than Him! There is NOTHING that can come across our path that God has not already defeated!

Be encouraged today. We made it through Irma with God’s help, and we will get through the emotional hurricane that she brought with her! You are not alone! Sit down, take a deep breath, and let God be God.

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