I grew up hearing this phrase all the time living in Southern Illinois. I’ve stood in and seen more storms than I can count – mostly in my home town. Some in the physical sense, some in the metaphorical sense, but both were exhilarating in their own way. I still love thunder storms, and the lightening, but some days it was nice to just sit on my mom and dad’s porch and listen to a heavy rain beat on the roof as a gentle breeze blew through to cool things down.
I could always tell when a storm was on its way. There was a distinct smell in the air, and a calm like no other. Some say it’s an old sailors myth, but ‘the calm before the storm’ is actually a very real phenomenon. It’s that point in time when you’re standing outside and everything around you suddenly stops, then shifts. There is a change in the air. The birds stop chirping, the wind dies down – leaving everything eerily quiet. The air is heavy, and even the leaves on the trees are as still as a thief in the night. I’m far from a science geek, but I do know that storm clouds need warm, moist air as fuel. The calm is created when those clouds suck that warm air upward, before releasing it back in the form of rain, a storm, snow, or something else.
In metaphorical terms, life can do the same thing. It pulls us back and forces us to be calm and still. Most of the time, this happens when you are trying to get something accomplished, or are on a deadline, and therefore under pressure or stressed about achieving these goals. In life’s funny, yet astute way, it knows when we need a break, even when we don’t.
Maybe we should welcome the calm when it comes. I think it’s there to prepare us for the storms yet to come. The calm can equip us with the right amount of strength needed to face the oncoming challenges that life is inevitably going to throw our way. If we’re not strong enough to handle these situations, we fall even faster and harder in the midst of them.
I finished my second novel this week, entitled ‘Grace After the Storm’, so I guess you could say that storms are heavy on my mind. Since writing the last word, I’m experiencing a sort of ‘calm’ right now. All my creative words and energy are expended, and now it’s time to put in the long hours of proofreading and editing to make it the best it can be before it goes off to the publisher. The hard work is yet to come.
A few months ago, my daughter missed the bus and I had to drive her to school. We often talk about challenges and struggles in life as we drive together, mom and daughter time. That day, she shared a quote with me…
“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.”
She blew me away with this one, and I still carry it with me. Like the calm before the storm, life pulls us back, sometimes pulling us back into the yucky, everyday things of life…only to release something wonderful and beautiful when we’re strong enough and ready to handle it.
If life is pulling you back right now, it’s probably for a reason. Stay there and try to enjoy the calm. It could be that the future is about to give you an opportunity to make a big change. Maybe you’re about to start a new job, or launch into a new career. Maybe you’re about to get a second chance to make something right, or make it better than it was the first time. Maybe you just need a rest before taking on the next step in life’s journey – whatever that looks like.
Until then…enjoy the calm – maybe with a cup of coffee in hand, a glass of wine, or a Corona with lime…whatever your fancy – and get ready to take life by storm!