OKC Tornadoes – 5 Ways to Deal with Life Halting Experiences

This has been a traumatic week for many in the center of our country as they’ve been faced with the reality of tornadoes that literally ripped through their lives destroying homes, schools, businesses, cars, trees, and lives.  Honestly, it is difficult to fully imagine the pain, anguish, and loss that so many in Oklahoma must be feeling this week.

My parents are finishing up an assignment at a church in Midwest City, Oklahoma which is just north of Moore, Oklahoma is located.  I talked to my Dad the other night, and he described the destruction as devastating and like nothing else he had previously experienced.  It was obvious in our conversation that the tornadoes had brought life in their area to a screeching halt.

Imagine driving your car at 65 miles an hour and it suddenly stops completely.  Or imagine riding your bicycle at 15 miles an hour when someone jams a stick in your spokes.

This is how I imagine it must have felt for so many when the tornadoes came and interrupted their lives.

Sometimes life is like this.  We are coasting along when something happens in our lives that brings things to a screeching halt.  It’s happened in my life a few times – like the time I crashed my car two weeks before my wedding, like when my wife was rushed to the hospital shortly after our son was born, and like the moment I learned that my grandfather had passed away six years ago.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’ve learned a few things through life halting events.  Here are 5 Ways to Deal with Life Halting Experiences:

  1. Hang on.  Sometimes this is all we can do.  When we don’t understand, when we don’t know the plan, we can trust God and hang on to His hand.  I remember asking during these times, “Why?”  Even in the toughest moments, we must remember that He will never leave us.

    “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Joshua 1:5

  2. Trust God.  In times like this, I’ve gone back to Proverbs 3:5-6 as a promise that God will make my paths straight even when life doesn’t make sense.

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

  3. Lean into family and friends.  I can’t tell you how much family and friends have meant to our family when life’s train seems to have derailed.  It helps to know that someone is praying for me, is willing to talk or listen as I wrestle through the challenges of life, and is willing to be there when I can’t fully focus on my daily needs.  If you’re missing this in your own life, I’d encourage and challenge you to seek out this kind of friendship.  Our church small group experience has provided many of these types of friendships.
  4. Consider a change.  Sometimes a life stopping experience can be the catalyst to positive change in our lives.  I have no idea what this means for victims of the tornadoes.  Maybe these experiences are a call to change direction.

    “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

  5. Learn and grow.  Life halting experiences can be life altering experiences if we take time to learn and grow.  This is why I recommend a journal or even a blog as a way to record life’s happenings.  I have learned so much through the major speed bumps of life and the blog and my journal have become great places to record and process these experiences.

For those directly impacted by this week’s events in Oklahoma recovery will be tough.  I can’t begin to imagine what these residents are going through.  To many, my thoughts will seem shallow.  It’s not my intent to belittle what those in Oklahoma have experienced.  I simply mean to point out a few things I’ve learned from life halting experiences of my own.  This I know, we can certainly pray for the victims and more importantly find ways to help out.

What have you learned from a life stopping experience?  What other tips do you have for handling these kinds of times?