Monday, May 16, 2011

Weathering the Storms

1881 Snowstorm, Minnesota
So many storms everywhere reaping havoc all over the world. It can be a little overwhelming just to hear about it, never mind the unfortunate souls who must live through these experiences.

We all have our own personal storms of life to deal with and sometimes they can be overwhelming, leaving us feeling isolated and in our turmoil. There is much truth in that we alone have our unique experiences, but it is also true that others have endured, or are enduring, similar tumults.

Storms often have devastating consequences and sometimes lead to further disaster or difficulties, such as an earthquake setting off a tsunami. A heavy season of snow or rain storms creating flooding. A wrong decision for which we have to deal with the consequences. For me, how snow and rain storms trigger my migraines and joint paint. Almost losing my father, losing my step-father. My husband being laid off, still. Things that can set us reeling.

With inner storms or conflicts I find it's important to do everything within our ability to not let a situation escalate. To respond to strife without letting fear be our master. To allow a storm die down and not make it worse. To promote peace. To heal. But often our human nature prompts us to go to extremes and answer anxious situations with anxious answers. When instead of responding to a situation we react, with fear. And instead of taking an assertive approach, we become aggressive.

"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." Romans 14:19
Yet sometimes in emergencies an aggressive response is needed. Releasing the floodgates in one area to help curtail more widespread disaster in another, like they've had to do on the Mississippi River. But what about the repercussions from this? The homes and farm land it will damage? The effect the damage to agriculture will have on the economy? There is seldom an easy answer. Times like these require a great deal of wisdom.

I have a fascination with weather phenomenon. My mother was a science teacher and I'm plain curious, what can I say? One of my favorite books that I own is a 2001 reissue of Historic Storms of New England by Sidney Pearley, originally written in 1891. It's official title is Historic storms of New England. Its gales, hurricanes, tornadoes, showers with thunder and lightning, great snow storms, rains, freshets, floods, droughts, cold winters, hot summers, avalanches, earthquakes, dark days, comets, aurora-borealis, phenomena in the heavens, wrecks along the coast, with incidents and anecdotes, amusing and pathetic. The amusing and the pathetic part gets me and I can only imagine this description snuck in because from the writer's vantage point some of the accounts are rather strange. I know that this reader finds many of them to be peculiar accounts when looking back in time from a more modern, sophisticated, and educated perspective. Yet this book has given me some extraordinary insights into the lives of the people in early New England who lived through many storms and how they experienced them. The way they did was often dictated by what they knew and believed during that period of history. And often much different than how we experience them now. But there are also core emotions, etc. that remain the same as ours today.

1755 Earthquake, Boston, MA
When writing fiction conflict is key. It is important to continually raise the stakes. Conflict comes from not only external circumstances, but from the internal conflict that the characters experience: emotional, mental, spiritual. There is much we can learn from our own storms of every sort and bring that to our writing desk. We can also learn from others and the past. Or from the ingenuity of those who survived the Great Snow Storm of 1888  ("The White Hurricaine") who as a result developed the first subway system in the U.S. in Boston, MA. But what of the then residents of the Northeast who had grown complacent about the great threat of earthquakes (a danger to a subway), as 17th and 18th century New England had been a major area of seismic activity such as in the Great Earthquake of 1755. Time has a way of healing our recollections, our conflicts, our storms.

But we do learn. How to fight wildfires. Anticipate spring freshets. Deal with post disaster stress. Lend a helping hand. Offer hope. Share a word of peace. Go on. Find our center in Christ so when circumstances change we are not shaken.

How do you handle conflict in your writing? Is writing healing to you during times of conflict? What storms are you weathering?


  1. I love how you pointed out the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. Both are the not the nature of one who would naturally allow things to die down. I can do both very easily and it is really my choice to go assertively, while remaining (or becoming non aggressive). As far as my writing goes, I think that I am becoming more assertive as I have been hitting walls. I have been really challenging myself to DO NEW things. I have felt threatened by some new friends who have taken up blogging and rather than coming down on myself I have had to really go to the root of why I started in the first place and then I have forced myself to not quit, but try to not be overly competitive. Since, all of the grumblings, I actually managed to write my first poem and my first post in the third person. So, the storms that I am going through I think (hope) are making a better place.

  2. Hi Jackie,
    It really is a choice, and I find that being assertive tends to be an act of faith with aggression stems from fear (although sometimes fear is healthy and prompts us to make bold decisions).
    That's great that you are applying your assertiveness to your writing. I hit a milestone with that a few years ago and it was so freeing. That's when I really started to grow as a writer, and still do (much needed!).
    It's so hard in our relationships at times. It's best to blog for an audience of One because when we compare we just get discouraged. Our blogs are our personal voice and no one can duplicate that or compete. Just be who you are!
    I stopped by your blog and love your verse at the top of the page! I must remember that one!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Storms often have devastating consequences and sometimes lead to further disaster or difficulties, such as an earthquake setting off a tsunami.
    I loved this phrase. I often let my problems and struggles consume me and they become far bigger and more dangerous in my mind than they really are. That effects all areas of my life.
    Thank you for all your thoughts here.

  4. Thanks for sharing, Shanda. It doesn't take much to rock our worlds it seems. Taking a little pause before our fears gain way with us can be a great help.

  5. I've never thought of New England as earthquake prone.

    Thanks for this interesting post. For historical writers, knowledge about weather can impact accuracy.

  6. Carla: Loved the post. I think I'll have to pick up the book about the historic storms in New England!

  7. Susan there really is so much variety with weather all over. It's interesting to bring some of that into our stories. I never knew about New England being such an earthquake zone either until I read this book.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Hi Renee,
    I think you'll enjoy it especially since you're a New Englander at heart!

  9. I'm not sure that time has healed some of the storms in my life so much as simply dimmed the memory of them. By depending on God's strength I learn to get through them and keep moving on. In fact, continuing to move on is actually one of the strategies of getting through the turbulence... moving ahead instead of stopping to fight it.

    An interesting analogy and post, Carla. Thanks. :)

  10. Carol, Thank you for sharing that thought about getting through the turbulence. How often have I fought to fight it! Such wisdom, Carol. Time doesn't erase our storms, as you said, there will always be scars. But it does provide a healing balm when we allow the Lord to tend to our pain.


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