Loss - Summer 2005 To Summer 2006
On September 10, a bolt of white light hurtled down from the blue, touching down dangerously close, blindsiding me. Nevertheless electrified, the impact sent me crashing down to my knees. Dark clouds instantly moved in, and without warning, burning freezing daggers began piercing me through and through. Reeling and soaked from the rain, I could hardly comprehend the abrupt upset. News had just broken, that Lauren and I would have to take a break, have to stop talking to each other indefinitely, and with that, the long period of sun that had prevailed in my life, vanished, as if someone had taken a cosmic TV remote and shut it off at the mere mash of a button.
The break was supposed to persist at least three weeks, and it sure did. It ended up raging for almost six months, and I gradually wondered during then, if I had totally lost Lauren. During all that time, I did not understand what was happening; on September 10, I didn’t even have enough time to ask all my whats, whys, and hows. Everything happened so quickly that day, that I wonder why my head wasn’t spinning by when all the damage had been inflicted. My only friendship I knew in this world, jammed into a longterm limbo—did I really deserve such a living nightmare as this? I still may never know, this side of eternity. As the break’s original three weeks elapsed, and the weeks dissolved into months, I began wondering if I had been lied to, and then feeling horrible for suspecting that—I didn’t want to believe I was misinformed about something about the break, and yet, trying to silence that nagging suspicion simply strained me to no end. That, along with doubt and distrust trying to mount, slashed me inside, because I felt as if I were betraying the friendship. I believe through God, however, I somehow remained faithful to the friendship, although spiritually battered, and I tried valiantly to love Lauren even more than before in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 13, not just as my friend, but as my sister in Christ. In fact, a pair of verses I stumbled upon, empowered me to that stronger love during the break, and would even continue bolstering me after the break’s end.
“[L]ove one another as I have loved you”, says Jesus in John 15:12; “Greater love has no one than this, that one should lay down his life on behalf of his friends” (15:13).
That doesn’t just say to physically lay down our lives for our friends—to me, it more importantly says for us to on a day-to-day basis, lay down our pride, fears, selfishness, anything that might hold us back from showing love to everyone. For me, it also says to lay down my shyness and stuttering, to let God take a key and unshackle me from such cold, cumbersome chains. I felt God beckoning me to break out of my shyness, even if just by taking baby steps, such as by stopping to say hello to people at school, even striking up small conversation, showing that I notice them, care about them. That’s a trend that would continue for a while…
Overall, I definitely would not had survived the freak storm, the break, without faith and trust in God. In fact, crashing down to my knees at the outset turned out helpful, the perfect position from which to cry out to Him. Music also bolstered me, ministered to me, especially Casting Crowns’ song, Praise You In This Storm. Remembering how I had heard it for my first time just days before September 10, I figured the song might help me out in the storm just starting in my life, and so I located the song online and downloaded it. It and a few other songs kept me going strong even when I felt like breaking under the burden of sadness, confusion, suspense, and at times, even fearful shock. Oh there’s another element to my trial that dramatically worsened things for me: the threat of a hurricane.
During the last half of September, Hurricane Rita developed, and alarmingly, it attained Category 5 strength, with winds shrieking past 160 miles per hour (MPH). That’s not the worst part, however. I think I could well weather the effects of such a ferocious storm, if it were directed at me. But not if it were directed at the area where someone I loved very dearly, lives. When Hurricane Rita emerged into the Gulf Of Mexico, it appeared to be locking aim on Texas, where Lauren lives. And I had no way to find out how her and her family were going to deal with that! No way to initiate contact with her. All I could do was pray, and pray…and pray. I don’t even say that as a concession, as if it were the last thing I turned to. It was the first thing I did, when I’d check the hurricane’s status on The Weather Channel Online. A storm of fear would stir in me upon seeing the monstrous spiral of rain and wind energy, with its aim locked on Texas. However, when that fright would well up in me, when fear for the safety for Lauren’s family would threaten to rain down my face, I would pray, and God would channel out my fear.
After praying, I’d feel a sense of relief for a time. But the fear would continually try to resurface, and more often at that, as the storm’s landfall loomed. I wondered if my prayers were helping. Instead of the winds weakening, they strengthened to as fast as 180 MPH! And instead of changing direction, Rita stayed headed toward Texas! Consequently, I prayed more and more, even asked others to pray about the storm for me. Would God really let this monster of a hurricane, ravage the area where my only true friend in this world, lived? I simply did not know.
The week of September 24 may as well have been the hardest week of my life at the time, spiritually. I remained in continual prayer about Rita, and stayed as much updated on its status, as I could. On Thursday, September 22, I finally began to detect some possible impact my prayers were having. Rita had weakened to 150 MPH, and its projected path had shifted slightly east, enough to put Lauren’s area out of its center. The storm was 48 or fewer hours, projected, away from landfall. Could it weaken more before landfall, even shift further east? I kept up my prayers, not hesitating even in the light of this good news of its slight weakening. I wanted this storm dead, but if that couldn’t happen, I wanted its impacts to be as minimal as possible, and if even that couldn’t happen, I wanted for God to comfort all people whom the storm would affect. Most of all, though, I didn’t want for Lauren and her family to suffer any major damage, or actually any damage at all.
I barely heard God whisper in the rain,
“I’m with you”.
And as His mercy fell,
I raised my hands and praised Him who gives…
By the end of that Thursday, I think Rita’s winds had spun down to 130 or 140 MPH, and its projected path continued shifting ever so slightly east. I praised God for even that, and yet still kept praying. Friday was easily my most prayer-filled day, ever, as the hurricane now spiraled offshore, less than 24 hours away from landfall. By the time I retired to bed that night, its winds had reduced to about 120 MPH, and it now seemed sufficiently east of Lauren’s area, as to spare it anything more than a little rain and wind. Relieved, I wept joyfully that night, so grateful to have felt I made at least a slight difference in the outcome of Rita’s onslaught. Of course, I for a time kept up my prayers for the people who would be feeling the brunt of the hurricane, however.
Adapted from the lyrics to Casting Crowns’
Praise You In This StormEnd quote
Looking back, my experience in praying fervently about Hurricane Rita was a thrill. In fact, the whole deal with me being separated from Lauren for so long, turned out to be a thrill. Never had I had to depend so closely on God; never had I had to lean on Him the way I did. It wasn’t exactly fun as it was happening, but I still thanked and praised Him for it, even in the midst of it, because I knew it could spiritually strengthen me, and it indeed did. This whole months long ordeal, extended and solidified in my mind, the value of suffering, that The Count Of Monte Cristo had taught me. It also taught me the importance of sacrifice, of putting God first because we can’t love people effectively if we sit them on a pedestal, above Him. Ultimately, I did end up losing Lauren, however, at least, the way I had previously related to her. The friendship between her and me declined during 2006 and beyond, due to time and increased distance. I guess that’s the way life goes, I at first bittersweetly acknowledged—sometimes friends are not meant to stay prominent in our lives for long. Sometimes they have a specific God-given purpose to fulfill in our lives, and when they’ve fulfilled it, God pulls them away somehow. Maybe that was the case with Lauren. I never knew. Whatever the case was, however, I’ve tried to always maintain a thankful heart, for her walking with me on my journey and letting me walk with her on hers, for helping me find the right direction to walk in, and for her indirectly helping me make new friends and form a passion for wanting to help and bless others, to share love with them as she did with me. However, I didn’t know that my experience with Lauren would seem to set a sad precedent for me.