It’s been cold and rainy the past few days here in Texas. If you don’t know this about me, I LOVE the rain. My first memories of rain as a child was watching the rain form a massive puddle outside our side porch. The Pennsylvania house I grew up in was an old Victorian mansion standing like a beacon in the countryside among fields of corn and pastures of sheep. The mansion was three stories, with a basement and tower which was just barely taller than some of the 30+ foot pine trees which swallowed up the property.
Before you get the idea that my parents were wealthy, you must know that when they purchased the home my family lived off one income as my mom home schooled all 13 of us, so money was tight. The mansion was a house big enough to fit all of us, plus there was a haunted house sign out front, which brought the price down a lot. The shutters were falling off their hinges, the tower had holes in the siding large enough to harbor bats and birds which would sometimes find themselves trapped inside the house trying to find their way out of the maze. The pipes burst the first time someone took a shower, which caused it to rain in the dining room, and the wiring was so old it almost started an electrical fire a few years after my parents purchased it.
The hot water heaters had burst (or were for some reason out of commission) so every winter all 15 of us (Including my parents) would wear our winter coats and gloves inside every room except for the kitchen where we huddled around a small wood stove which had to be filled with wood from the woodshed at least half a dozen times each day, or stock piled in a corner where massive wolf spiders would nap. The warm air from the wood stove never really impacted the other rooms much, so the rest of the house’s temperature favored whatever was happening outside. If the house was a freezer in the winter, than it was a furnace in the summer. AC was a foreign oddity to us come summer, and we would all hustle to try to find working fans to blow on our faces as we slept in the humidity, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night and taking a cold shower before returning to try again. Sometimes borrowing a fan from another room of someone who was already sleeping.
When it’s raining outside I think of standing on that side porch as the water rotted the wood pillars a little more, as the ill placed drainpipe flooded that one spot on the grass. I think of the relief from the humidity as I would step far enough towards the edge of the porch to feel the stray raindrops hit my bare feet as I watched the lightning in the distance.
When it’s raining outside I think of times my family spent away from home touring D.C. and it would rain and we had to scramble to get on the metro, knowing full well there was no hope of staying dry, but knowing that back in the hotel lobby would be hot chocolate packets to warm our cold bones. That knowledge enabled us to laugh at our misfortune and how funny the large bunch of drenched home school kids must have looked to other people.
When it’s raining outside I remember all the people I love, and I remember confidently that this too will pass, and I know it’s a good excuse for warm fuzzy sweaters and for steaming beverages, and wool socks. It’s a reminder of all the fond memories and bonding that happens when the skies are grey.
Rain for me, is something that reminds me to find joy in the sad times, find humor in situations that don’t go as planned, perseverance in the hard times, and it reminds me to take joy in the little things. I may have woken up to bats flying in my bedroom a few times as a child but now I’m a little less squeamish. I may have cried, locked myself in the bathroom, and prayed my guts out whenever I was home alone in that rickety ( Read: haunted*) mansion but now it takes a lot to rattle me if I stay home alone in a non-rickety (Read: Not noticeable haunted *) house. I might have almost turned into a Popsicle watching my breath in the morning when I woke up on a February morning as a kid, but now I’m usually the first one to fall asleep on a camping trip, no matter the temperature. It may have been hard growing up in such a large family with so many responsibilities, but it’s helped to shape my character and work ethic as an adult. It may have been hard leaving a cult 4 years ago, but I would never be as theologically sound as I am now if not for that.
I guess all I’m getting at with these stories is this: Everything happens for a reason and there is a silver lining to everything, even if you don’t see it right away. You will be stronger, you will have more courage the next time around, and you will have a story – a testimony to tell someone else to help them through their struggles, and they will then be able to do the same. It’s a wonderful cycle, and yes, it’s cliché, but so is sitting by the window drinking hot chocolate and watching the rain, but I’ve done a lot of that and it’s done my soul good.
In the next part of this rainy season, my prayer for all my readers is that you’ll be able to look into your past hard times, at times where things were out of your control, or didn’t go as planned, and I challenge you to see the good that came from that, I challenge you to look at how far you’ve come. Then, look around, and encourage another person this week with one of your stories.
Also, ya’ll if it’s still raining out there, go ahead and dance. Or stay dry inside with hot chocolate, it’s really your call.
2 Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.