Please Rain On My Parade
Anyone who is in my personal circle of life knows that I am NOT a fan of:
1. being wet
2. being cold, and
3. gray sunless days
Not only would I say I don't like these 3 things, it's safe to say that I despise them...even hate them. Now, most people would probably agree with me on at least the being wet complaint. The rest, I'm sure don't really mind the cold and even probably like all that goes along with it and I'd also bet that, even the sunless skies aren't that big of a deal for most. But for me, these 3 things are my kryptonite.
So the next logical question would be...why in God's name am I living in a damp, freezing, constantly cloudy part of the world? Or more specially, why do I live in Michigan? And to that I say...Good question! One I've been asking myself for years and to which I don't actually have a plausible answer to. But nonetheless, here I sit.
For those of you who are not from the Wolverine State, let me give you a quick weather synopsis. This is just some basic data to provide a general idea of our climate. Obviously, where you reside in the Mighty Mitten state, will dictate it's own weather nuances, but overall, here are some approximate stats:
Michigan has 131 days of average precipitation which equates to one third of the year containing either rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain or hail.
Roughly 50% of our days have heavy cloud cover ( in other words, not much sun) and we're only likely to see between 65 and 75 days each year of clear blue skies.
And the average year round temperature hovers slightly above a balmy 50℉.
What all this means for me is that I am either wet, cold or devoid of vitamin D for 295 days out of the year. Or in other words, I’m around or at least partially around my kryptonite 80% of my life!
Now, disclaimer, I am not a Michigan hater. Michigan is my soul. My whole life has been here. It's my home and I will always be a Michigander at heart. BUT, all that being said, I am not, however, a fan of the weather that the mighty Great Lakes State produces.
Look, I wasn't always a Michigan weather cynic. When I was a kid, I loved it. The fall was magical with its stunning display of color and it's signaling in of so many wonderful holidays. The snowy winter months were fun, especially when school got called off because of them. Even the continuous drizzle and chilly winds of the Spring seemed somehow bearable...probably because it meant that school would soon be over for the year. And Summer was, well, summer. It needs no explanation. Now, fast forward to becoming a parent of 5 kids. Life just turned into a circus and who the heck had time to pay attention to what the weather was offering up for the day. We just always made sure the kids had the right wardrobe for whatever extreme climate change might happen in a 24 hour period...and believe me, we can have some drastic shifts of temperate in the matter of minutes thanks to the "lake effect". But, that didn't matter, we threw the foul weather gear in the back of the SUV and simply rolled along with the day's atmospheric mood. The kids were my focus, not the climate.
For me, becoming a Mighty Mitten weather pessimist didn't begin until June 24, 2013, the day my husband took his life. It was at that point, that I would realize the magnitude of the gift of the Sun and it's ability to warm the most grief stricken soul and how, desperately, I needed it to survive. The Sun and warmth of it's rays kept me moving forward through my pain and as time went on, I began to recognize my emotional dependency on it. When the Sun would flash it's devastatingly handsome smile, my flesh would melt into an abyss of comfort and I could actually believe that my life contained optimism. It's warm light would melt my tears away and my soul would fill with expectation. One of my favorite comforts in the world is to get into a toasty warm car after it's been sitting in the sun for a few hours and just bask in it's heat. No racing to turn on the air conditioning. No rolling down the windows. Just sit there in the warm healing hot box. AHHHHH. And in the winter months, on the few days my friend, the Sun, would shine bright, creating a glistening of diamond like light on the snow covered ground, I would revel in it's glow of hope and was ever grateful for it's presence. That's what the Sun was to me - Hope. And I needed it to survive...literally. And let's talk for a minute about what it usually brings with it...it's rise and it's fall. Oh, it's spectacular entrance to the day would allow me to believe that anything was possible even though the world around me seemed to say the opposite. And as it would wave goodbye, the variations of colored beauty it would leave in the sky enveloped me with a sense of well-being that only it's reflection could provide. I was in love with the bewitching Sun and I couldn't live without it. When the Sun was present, I felt alive. And when it wasn't, the darkness that accompanies grief would absolutely consume me.
Fast forward, once again, to this past fall of 2021, roughly 8 months ago at the time of this writing. The prior 6 months had been an exceptionally difficult 6 months. The Lord had somehow brought me to my knees once again. To be honest, I didn't think I could ever be brought down as low as I was when my husband died, but I was wrong. It wasn't one thing that did it, it was several very fearful situations going on at the same time that led me to buckle under it's weight. But there I was...on the floor...barely breathing with anxiety so crushing that I thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown - no exaggeration. It had been 8 very long years of mental and emotional trials and I was over it. But, it was at this time that God sent me a gift of HIS love, but it certainly wasn't where I ever thought it would be. In fact, it was in a place that I hated.
One chilly evening, it had started to rain. The kind of rain that is strong and gentle all in the same falling. It was constant in it's downward decent and consistent in it's pace. I, instantly, was not happy about it's arrival and the dreariness and dampness it brought with it. My mood was dark enough, I didn't need it to be sodden, too. I started to get angry that it had shown up to taunt me with it's sadness. Looking back, my anger wasn't exactly about my disdain for the rain, but more about everything that God was not fixing in my life and then, directing all of that at the shower of gloominess that was drizzling down my kitchen window. I was so mad, I just started yelling out loud, "You know what, God, screw this rain! Screw this life you gave me, and screw you! I don't know what more you want from me! I'm one person and you're killing me...again. When does the pain stop? When do we get to be through with this season of constantly climbing up hill? And when do you actually decide to show the 'bleep' up?!" "And hey, thanks for the rain that I love so much! You really are good all the time!"🙄
I, then, preceded to walk up to my bedroom, pulled my covers back, turned my heating pad on, crawled into my bed and started to sob. As I continued to fall down into a pit of depression, the rain continued to beat against my window. It didn't let up. The desolation of the rain was endless and I was drowning in it.
There I was the entire night trying to keep my head above water...gulping for air...with the rain continuing to push me under like a middle school bully. I felt so utterly alone and helpless. I woke up the next day with nothing but sorrow in my heart. I pushed through the following cloud covered day and headed home from work. As soon as I walked into the kitchen, I started to hear the pattering on the windows once again. This time, there was no anger in me, only hopelessness. The precipitation was unceasing and eventually, I just headed to bed to return to my previous night's isolation. However, this time something felt different. I was trying to feel miserable, but there was something stopping me from my plunge into the darkness. It was like I jumped into the black hole, but something grabbed me and was holding on. It, actually, kind of made me mad because I was set on wallowing in my suffering. My mind soon began to focus on the dripping chatter on my window. It was the rain. The rain was what was stopping my plummet. Wait. The rain? How could the rain stop my descent? I despise the rain. The rain was what initiated my downfall in the first place. As the confusion in my mind began to clear, my heart soon began to hear. That chatter on the window....that unceasing precipitation.... that rain...was God's voice. HE was there in every pitter and every patter and I realized in that moment what HE was saying to me... "I'm here, even in this place that you hate. Listen closer. This place is one of hope, too. I heal with the sun but I nourish with the rain. Rest in my voice as you hear it on the window sill and allow it to spill into your soul and know that I am here. Your comforter. This season shall pass and you will understand why I had to let the flood waters rise. Know that there is purpose in all I do. Simply trust ME." And just like that, God took something that had brought me despair for the past 8 years and transformed it into something filled with light.
Now when it rains, I rejoice...unless I'm having a good hair day, then not so much. I especially love the rain at night. It comforts me as I feel God's presence in each droplet. When it rains, my soul is quieted and peaceful. When it rains I hear HIS voice saying "I'm here." When it rains I am safe and warm because when it rains I feel HIS Love. God showed me that it must rain in certain seasons because that is how HE cultivates our character. The season may seem like it goes on forever, but ultimately, the Sun does arrive. And that even in the places where everything appears bleak, impossible and seemingly pointless, HE is still there...always...even in the things that you despise. You may feel you are in a storm, but HIS sweet rain is there to comfort and produce in you strength, patience and reliance upon HIM so that when the flood waters eventually cease, you will rise and lay hold of HIS rainbow.
Look for God in those places that you would never expect; those places that are hurtful; those places that you hate. I promise you He is there...waiting for you to recognize HIS reassuring voice. And know that there is purpose in HIS reign.
"...Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness..."
Then the Lord said to Moses, "I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you..."
Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud...
"My word is like the snow and the rain that come down from the sky to water the earth. They make the crops grow and provide seed for planting and food to eat. So also will be the word that I speak - it will not fail to do what I plan for it; it will do everything I send it to do.”