You can see it in their eyes. The people who lost their homes are always easy to spot. They look tired and are often covered in that layer of sheet rock dust that is becoming so familiar. They look stressed and hopeless or strong and hopeful, depending on the day or hour or moment.
They all have a story. Watching water rise into their homes. Evacuating by boat through their neighborhood. Going back to help others. Lacking food or water or shelter, yet still having hope.
Starting the clean up process, grieving what was lost and looking forward to what is ahead with a strength that only comes from trial. The strength that goes deep down into our Louisiana roots and is a part of our DNA. Passed down from grandparents who lost everything in hurricanes or floods past. Strength that will carry us through the next months and years as we rebuild.
Over the past week I have been home, I have learned something about strength. Strength is developed in moments of absolute despair. When your choices are to quit or to get up and keep going. To complain and blame or to give thanks and help those around you. Real strength comes from walking through adversity.
You grieve what you lost and you keep going. You give away what you can to those around you who lost more than you and you keep going. You laugh and love deeper and make the most of silly things. You rejoice when you find socks and throw away stuff you never liked anyway.
Friends and family come from everywhere and bring you resources and hands and hugs. A simple, “I’m sorry”, as they help you haul everything you own to the road speaks more empathy than one thousand “It will be ok’s” from people who do not understand.
Every night you get home covered in sweat and dirt and sheetrock dust and you think there is no possible way you can get up the next morning and keep going. But then the strength comes and you do. And you feel stronger each day even when you don’t know how you will keep going. That is what strength brings.
We are months and months away from restoration, but the process has begun. As I was sitting in Starbucks the other day writing about this, I overheard a man who had lost everything call this flood, “an unwelcome fresh start”. That phrase stood out to me because it is so true. This is not what we wanted, but we are prepared to walk through this trial and come out on the other side stronger than ever.
How can you get involved?
Pray for Louisiana!
Give! Go to http://healingplacechurch.org/disaster-relief/ to donate online
Serve! Find out how you can be apart of relief teams coming to Louisiana. We need as many hands as possible to help.