Thursday, September 06, 2012

Have no fear of sudden disaster… for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.

Proverbs 3: 25a & 26

Our view

So. We live in California now. A place known for, as one friend put it, sun and silicone. And also earthquakes.

Let me preface by explaining that fear of natural disasters is not something I ever remember experiencing before. We had tornadoes, floods, blizzards, and huge storms in Indiana, flooding and enormous spiders in Scotland (which admittedly probably shouldn’t go on the natural disasters list, but sometimes..), but I rarely recall feeling fear towards those things. They typically kept a comfortable distance, and if they came a bit too close, I still felt there were enough people and enough options for safety that it wasn't something to worry about.

Well it turns out when I’m plopped into the middle of promised natural disasters that I really have undoubtedly, absolutely zero control over, it gets a little more scary.

Whoops! Ended up driving through LA instead of around.. teehee

I didn’t realize how much I was being consumed by coming up with horrible scenarios and trying to decide how I would get us to safety until there were so many scenarios where I had no idea what to do that I ultimately led myself into a breakdown.

We live on the fourth (top) floor of an apartment building. We have two very small (and already pretty unbalanced without shaking thrown into the mix) children that sleep in a different room from us. We are in a city, surrounded by buildings with no open areas, aside from the occasional parking lot, to go once outside. Having never lived in an earthquake-prone area, we are learning appropriate safety measures and hoping we aren’t missing any vital points.

Cool mountains on the way to a friend's house

The first two rumbles I felt seemed novel and intriguing. After those, we bought a little safety kit for our family to have on hand in case we needed to leave the apartment for a few days. The third rumble put me on serious edge. I was home alone with the boys, which is one of my biggest fears in regard to having an earthquake. None of them were large or dangerous, in fact, Ian hasn’t felt any of them at work, but the nature of our apartment building is that they are very noticeable.

Three in two months? I wasn’t expecting that. I began unintentionally thinking about it all the time. I would wonder, as I walked around with the kids, how everyone else seemed so calm and unaffected by this horrible possibility lying in wait. ‘We’re due for a big one!’ they all say with smiles on their faces, as if it’s some kind of game.

Cars, cars everywhere.. full of crazy people who think earthquakes are a GAME

I didn’t realize how out of control things were getting in my head until I found myself crying to Ian about a horrible scenario I had come up with that I just couldn’t handle. What started as a way for me to be prepared should something happen had taken a nosedive off the deep end. I didn’t know how to keep myself from going down these paths of terror in my mind, but I really didn’t want to be doing it anymore.

We talked for a while. My wonderful husband was gentle, kind, thoughtful, and clear spoken. He listened and tried to help me see the molehill that had become a mountain I couldn’t climb. He didn’t laugh or make me feel silly, because he knows what it feels like to really worry. It’s amazing how being able to empathize changes your response to someone who is in need.

I don’t know that we solved my problem right then and there, but I can say it’s something I haven’t given much thought in the days since (I’ll probably be fine until the next rumble :). This morning I came across the verse above and was so encouraged by it I decided to make it a sort of ebenezer. Something I could go back to and be reminded that the Lord has been faithful and that will not change.

Holding on to life too tightly fills me with fear. I have no control over what this planet will do, or the people in it for that matter. That has certainly become a much bigger worry since I have had children; I want nothing more than to keep them safe and fill their lives with lots of Special and Sweet. The reality is they aren’t mine anyway. Everything is the Lord’s and everything is working towards His coming, His renewal.

The Lord is my confidence in this and every other fear of any possible large- or small-scale disaster (for instance, the poop incident this morning). My family and I may not come out unscathed. Horrible things may happen before I die. But I know that, in the end, it’s ok. Even if a massive earthquake hits while we live here, it’s ok. It’s not an easy thing to grapple with, but I know that I can trust. The Lord has walked us through many difficult things in life, and I give thanks again and again for those times and the way they have strengthened my understanding of, and my ability to cling to, Jesus.

I am not my own. My children and husband are not my own. My home filled with wonderful gifts of comfort and sentiment are not my own. It is all his. It’s hard to loosen my grasp, to let go and trust that my hold isn’t strong enough anyway. The Lord has lead us here, to a crazy place where the sun is always hot, palm trees line the roads, there is always traffic, nowhere is unoccupied, and earthquakes are just part of life. I am learning. And it is good.

Sunset.. not quite as beautiful without clouds, but we'll take it!

Providentially, a friend of mine wrote a post in a similar vein today. I saw it just before I was ready to post this and decided to link to it because I found it to be so encouraging. You can read the post here, and read a bit more about her story here.


  1. I see we can relate on both the profound and the "less profund" issues in life (i.e. living in earthquake world). The last one we had was pretty big and I woke up and saw things shaking and thought "if this is real, it's scary, and I need to go back to sleep and pretend it's a dream."


    Encouraged by you, friend.

  2. Haha! I'm not sure I would have been that coherent if woken by an earthquake! Ian can attest that my verbal skills go out the window when I need to think or act quickly (maybe I'm a bad multitasker?) :)

  3. Earthquakes - oh, horror. Cali is high on my list of where I don't want to live in the US! (That said, I hear I'm missing out on some great weather.) I definitely suffer from natural disaster fear, so I can empathize. My hubby has been my rock, too. He has taught me how to avoid making up the worst case scenario to be afraid of - something I am totally wired to do and he totally is not wired to do. I have envied his freedom from worry, and have learned to allow myself NOT to worry. It feels somewhat irresponsible to me (like it's wrong to allow myself to stay calm), but it sure helps to just look at the moment and say, "Right now we're ok." Full stop. Hope you can continue on with more peace.

  4. Thanks Kristin! This is totally out of character for me.. Ian is usually our worrier, that's why he was so great at helping me! :) 'Right now we are ok' is just what we need!