While I sipped my morning coffee, a realization hit me. As millions live in chaos right now — and my brother and sister-in-law sit in Irma’s path — I sit comfortably on my front porch. With blue skies overhead and a picture-perfect fall day in front of me, I not only feel completely clueless as to what they are experiencing, but also helpless.
In times of despair or brokenness, my immediate reaction is to help. I’m a fixer and have honed this skill through the years. It is difficult for me to stand on the sidelines when loved ones suffer — joy and peace is what I desire for them, and I want to make that happen. But these natural disasters remind me that sometimes it’s just not possible. No matter what we do, the storms will arrive, and we will be forced to hunker down or evacuate.
Reflecting on my porch reminds me not only of how far I am from the present dangers at sea -- mentally and physically -- but also of my limited perspective and experiences with other important aspects of life. Clueless is the word that continues to resurface in my mind.
Clueless ... to what it’s like to be black. Even though I have many black friends, I am a privileged white woman. Despite my stupid questions that my sisters of color endure, I cannot relate to the challenges of black hair, racial injustice, or the uneasy feeling of driving through Martinsville, Indiana. Or even Carmel, for that matter.
Clueless ... to how it feels to live with a brain that literally has a mind of its own. Even though I have felt depressed or down at times, I have no idea what it’s like to live with a serious mental illness that affects my entire being. I do not face the daily struggle of waking up to discover whether it will be a good day or one where I can’t get out of bed.
Clueless ... to what it’s like to live with abuse or be a victim of sexual violence. I could say that this is because of good choices, but I'm sure I made stupid mistakes in my youth that compromised my safety. Besides, abuse is not a choice and cannot always be prevented. Sometimes we trust the wrong people or happen to be in the wrong place. Abuse knows no class, age, nor color. It can happen to anyone.
As my coffee cup grows empty, these thoughts continue to simmer. While I feel helpless to protect my loved ones from the looming devastation in Florida right now, I am hopeful because I know that God can — from both natural or personal disasters.
Even though I’m clueless here in Carmel, I am hoping, praying, and thinking of each one of you. And God is, too.
“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10