What to Do When Hurricanes of the Heart Strike
3 Weather Channel Inspired Ideas for Handling Personal Storms
Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 ESV
It’s hurricane season here in the South, but lately, I have been weathering storms of the heart. Based on experience, I know what to do when a hurricane comes: get your supplies, fill your gas tank, bring in all your outdoor furniture. But when a hurricane of the heart comes, I’m not always wise to my own best care.
What is your refuge in times of trouble? Where do you go when storms of life are brewing and you need to take cover? What is your hurricane of the heart strategy?
I’d like to say that my first thought for refuge is in my faith in Christ, but truly it tends to be cheap and easy versions of true refuge.
Instead of prayer, I seek my phone.
Instead of stillness and resting in Him, I rest in Netflix.
Instead of listening for wisdom, I listen to negativity.
Instead of Christ, I reach for Chardonnay.
Life gives us plenty of material for personal storms. Look no further than battles on social media or your local newsfeed to send your mind spinning. Also, all storms may not be huge hurricanes. Tiny little incidents of not feeling good about yourself or your circumstances can create their own ultimate storm. Like floodwaters rising, things like anxiety, boredom, stress, fear, and worry can push us to the breakpoint before we ever know we are in a dangerous situation.
If I know exactly what to do when a hurricane comes, why don’t I know exactly what to do when times of trouble storm my heart? The truth is, I do. The Bible gives us a lot of great wisdom, it’s simply a matter of hearing it and applying it to our lives.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of seas.” Psalm 46:1-3 ESV
Here are a few thoughts I am practicing for when storms of the heart approach. I’m not an expert on heart storm preparedness. But if I can get a tiny bit better with each storm, one day I hope to arrive at the Jim Cantore Weather Channel style equipping.
1. Name your storm.
At the very first inkling of any disturbance, the weather experts give the storm a name. What if we got good at naming our storms the very moment they start appearing in our hearts? This means paying attention. Are you worried, stressed, anxious, negative, grieving, tired, bored? Give yourself permission to acknowledge how you feel. Begin to get good at storm spotting in your own heart and naming it like they would on the Weather Channel.
2. Make preparations.
Just like gathering batteries, canned food and extra candles give us equipping for the storm, we can take personal measures for our hearts too. What do you need to do to address your storm? Consider preparations that support you best – perhaps it’s something simple like taking a walk or praying outside in the fresh air. Maybe it’s more active like reaching out to a wise friend or trusted counselor. For me personally, a lot can be resolved by getting quiet and surrendering what I’m feeling to God. Get really clear on what your heart needs most in times of trouble and ready your preparations.
3. Take cover.
My mom used to say that much of the world’s problems could be solved by taking a rest. I would add to that advice by saying, “taking a rest in Him.” When I can be honest about what’s burdening me, I find true refuge in Him. This might mean putting my face down on the carpet to let God speak or it might mean journaling about what is truly on my heart to look deeper. Sometimes it can be a literal nap. Invite God to be a restorative and peaceful refuge. Allow Him to renew your heart and mind in His whisperings and care.
Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and our strength” - but we have to allow Him to be that for us. He can be a very present help in trouble, but we have to invite Him to go to work in our hearts and minds. When I find myself anxiously spinning in an endless loop of fear, anxiety, worry, and criticism, what I truly need is to find rest in Him. What I long for in my refuge is the place where I set it all down.
When I am able to recognize I am in a storm, I know what I need to do. I need to allow the preparedness of Psalm 46:1 to go to work in my heart and leave the rest to God. I seek my refuge in Him until the storms pass me by.