It is my hope to be succinct. I’m a Rouson so we’ll see.
In Virginia, we have been preparing for Hurricane Florence for the last few days. At one point this category 4 hurricane was predicted to cause such devastation, that we were encouraged to know what [flood] zone we lived in, Zone A being the most likely to flood and Zone D being the least likely to flood. By Monday evening, our governor issued a mandatory evacuation of Zone A. For the record, I live in Zone B, but more importantly, my area floods if someone sneezes too hard or cries too long. On regular rainy days, I am utilizing detours to navigate around large bodies of flooded water on our main streets, and even then sometimes I just can’t avoid the flood caused by the storm. With the news saying that our area was about to be hit with one of the strongest hurricanes it at seen since the 60’s, I found myself fighting to not be afraid. My Facebook feed was filled with pictures and posts of empty shelves in the grocery stores, tales of gas stations that were depleted of gas, and panicked residents who either had to leave with no clue where to go or weren’t sure whether or not they should leave. What you must understand is Virginia, specifically Hampton Roads, has been blessed throughout the years to miss the brunt of many of the major natural disasters. Most of my generation hasn’t lived through a major storm since Hurricane Isabelle in 2003. To put that in perspective I am 30 now, I was 15 then. Anyway, with the track of this major storm promising devastation of some sort heading our way, I joined the ranks of those who were utterly panicked.
Christen Diane Rouson always has a plan. Most times I have a Plan A, a Plan B, a back-up plan for Plan B, and a back-up to the back-up for Plan B (or Plan D, if you will). When asked on Monday and Tuesday what I was going to do with regard to the impending storm, my repeated response was, “I don’t know.” I had just been made aware of the severity of the storm (because clearly I was under a rock), supplies seemed to be running out, and I hadn’t even been paid yet. I was trying to figure out how to prep for a storm when my resources wouldn’t be available until right before it was slated to hit. In other words, I would be cutting it kind of close. So when asked, “What are you going to do?” I couldn’t fathom an answer because I couldn’t figure out what I could do.
Side Note: it is in storms the you become hyper aware of who isn’t around you. I immediately felt the absence of my mother, who passed almost nine years ago. She would have undoubtably had a plan that would have covered all of her children, especially the single one (me), and their children; however, she isn’t here and everyone had to call their own shots and take risks on their own. On the contrary, storms also make you aware of who is around you if you’re willing to see them. I’ll simply say I have the greatest brothers.
After receiving the news of the mandatory evacuation of Zone A and receiving a phone call that my school system job was closed until further notice, anxiety rested on me. While sitting in class Monday night, I had to excuse myself to the bathroom to release the tears that I could no longer quickly wipe away. Tuesday was filled with tears as well. I cried until I had a solid plan…EVACUATE! I knew that whether or not I left Hampton Roads, I couldn’t stay in my house because I’d be stranded and flooded in. When considering evacuation, my repeated question was, “How?” Remember, I was still without resources. Then God made a way, and resources came to me right on time. I worried that the gas stations and grocery stores would be depleted since I was late to the preparation party, but God was faithful to lead me to the right places to find what I needed. So with the car gassed, food purchased, and clothes packed, I drove away from the danger zone.
I promise I’m getting to the point; I had to lay the foundation.
Yesterday, as I arrived in my safe place, I received word that the storm seemed to be turning. I even had people say, “Why did you leave? The storm won’t be as bad as predicted. It’s not even coming until later in the week. You are wasting your money.” I chuckled and responded, “Well, then I guess I am just on vacation!” The truth is even in the category 4 hurricane has turned and will only be a tropical storm for my area, I still live in a flood zone, and I still could have been stranded. Even if there are no repercussions of this storm, my safety was worth any dollar I have spent.
Since being at this resort, I have been able to unwind and set aside some cares that I have been carrying. I’ve taken random naps and even relaxed in the hot tub. I finally have time to binge watch the TV show that I’ve been meaning to watch, and I even feel okay with silencing my phone as I just did since people seem to be very chatty this morning. In a little while I’ll probably do a new style in my hair, and I may even crack open the book that I started reading a year ago without completion. To know me is to know that I NEVER have any time for myself to do what I want to do. I give all of my time away to everyone else who needs or wants it, and I barely getting to just be. My evacuation from my storm has granted me access to a place where my peace is not only protected, but I get to enjoy having it.
Speaking of peace…God gave it to me as a gift for my 30th birthday. Since July 26, 2018, my peace has been tested and tried by people and in ways I never thought possible. If you read my last blog Unavailable, you’ll see that I am learning how to honor and care for myself which will in turn protect this gift of peace that God gave me. My evacuation has been metaphorical for my current life situation. I am choosing to leave panic, anxiety, and a storm to protect myself. I am deciding to end conversations, put space between me and some situations, and even leave some people behind so that I can protect my peace. And just like with this storm, I had so much trepidation about getting away from the “danger.” My last blog will show you just how much I worry about the feelings of others over myself. Even with some good friends and close loved ones urging me to consider myself for once, I almost endured the storm so that it couldn’t be said that I left someone behind or that I “ran away” for no reason. But just like my evacuation from Zone B to higher ground, God offered me a way of escape, and I took it.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 [New Living Translation]
When the reality of this storm set in, I was overwhelmed with panic and anxiety, and I had to remind myself over and over that I had no reason to fear. It was a fight to not be afraid, y’all. But I wasn’t alone. In a just few chats with some friends, they felt some of what I felt too. And just when I was bout to forfeit my peace for the panic associated with the storm, God showed me a way out.
This natural storm reminded me how to do what is necessary by any means at all times to protect what is most precious to me. As it relates to Hurricane Florence or whatever she will become, my life and safety are the things most precious to me. As it relates to the metaphor that is represented, my peace is what of the utmost important to me.
Let’s chat about you for two seconds. What is it that you need to protect? Are you fighting to keep your peace of mind with chaos around you? Are you trying to maintain the new you that is a result of some spiritual and mental growth but people keep trying to pull you back to the old you? Are you covering your heart that has been recently healed and put back together but it seems you can’t avoid disappointment that aches in sore places? Maybe you’ve just become content with who you are and how you are but you still have the loud opinion of a minority telling you that you aren’t good enough. My advice to you is simple. Baby, you have to evacuate! It may not make sense to others who may think the storms aren’t so bad, who don’t live in the place where you live, or understand how this one blow can have you trapped in a place where you can’t break free from. Only you know how much of a threat this is for you. Do what’s best for you. You may have to pack up and move to higher ground… to a safe space.
Oh! When evacuating to my safe place, I not only had to deal with those who thought my escape was wasteful and presumptuous, I had to cope with the fact that I couldn’t bring to safety all who I wanted to protect. Others had the chance to evacuate with me and had to make a choice that was best for them. I didn’t like that I couldn’t save them, but their choice to remain where they were has gifted me the opportunity to enjoy where I am without feeling the need to cover them when I need to be protected too. (Read my last blog, please.)
There are two things I know for sure. Number one, Hurricane Florence is real. I don’t know when, where, or how she’ll hit or what will be the result of it; we are all just bracing ourselves while hoping for the best. Number two, I have shifted myself to a place of safety where I won’t be as pained by the impact if it really comes. I am safe. And if I ended up leaving for no reason, I’m on vacation. *smirk*
I hope this helps.