A few years ago now, I was staring out my window as Hurricane Matthew pushed floodwaters slowly – and then quickly – down my street, up the incline of my yard, and finally, to my doorstep.
I prayed as hard as I could that the rain would die down, and the water would stop rising.
When I saw the first little trickles sneaking in and soaking our doormat, I went to grab a bath towel to try and clean it up – I didn’t want the floors to be damaged. As I stepped in a giant puddle in the bathroom, water already pouring in through the exterior wall, I realized that a towel wasn’t quite going to cut it.
I don’t know that, even now, I can really articulate what I felt at that moment. There was no way out. Our neighborhood looked like a lake as far as we could see, and our cars could not handle the 4 feet of standing water in the roadway.
There was absolutely nothing we could do but ride out the night in our home and wait to see what damage we’d be left with once daylight broke. Uncertainty was all that seemed to be in front of us.
Then headlights cut through the downpour and into our front window.
Our friends (and their massively lifted trucks) had shown up, at their own risk, to help us. They quickly set themselves into action as we sat dumbfounded and unsure of where to begin. In about 20 minutes, they had stacked as much furniture as possible, wrangled our pets, and had gotten us out of the neighborhood before the roads were completely impassable.
But it didn’t end with a dramatic rescue.
In the days and months to follow, these friends, among others, rallied around us. They helped us set the waterlogged contents of our home by the curb and pack what was spared into storage. When we didn’t know where provision would come from, they prayed with us and declared God’s goodness over us. On the days we felt down or stressed (and there were many), they were right there, making us laugh and taking us out to dinner.
Now, on the other side of rebuilding, I sit in a clean (we have a toddler, so this is VERY relative), dry home, and I am blown away at how fortunate we have been. Our insurance completely covered the gutting and remodeling of our home, and though my car was totaled, it was entirely covered by insurance as well. All that we lost were “things,” and things can be replaced.
But you know what can’t be replaced – what is absolutely priceless? The thing that made the most significant difference in a terrifying season? It wasn’t money or anything we owned.
It was friendship. Community.
In hindsight, it’s almost baffling to see how faithful God has been in sending His provision and comfort through the people around me.
I wonder; how often have I tried to stop the floods in my life on my own… and with a towel, no less? The storms of life will come – this is to be expected – and on our own, we’re left to clean up messes far beyond our scope, with tools ill-equipped for the task.
But when we are surrounded by community?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (MSG) says:
“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!
Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.
By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.
We need each other.
Maybe this year has been one of fair winds and following seas; perhaps you feel like it’s been a barrage of waves from all directions. Either way, God doesn’t intend us to navigate life’s victories and challenges on our own. He places people in our world to come alongside us. In the good and the bad, have you allowed people into your life who you can be open with? It can feel so vulnerable to put your hand up, join a Community Group, or even attend a conference, but it is so worth it to build that community into your life.
At the same time, are you warmly opening your life and looking out for the people on your left and right? Let us be women who strengthen and encourage each other in every season, always ready to reach out a hand to lift others up. Our families, churches, and workplaces will be better for it.