Because of a snowstorm, we recently lost power, and our lights went out. Actually, the heat is a lot more important than lights. As a guy who grew up in South/Central Texas and spent his entire adult life there, heat isn’t a big deal. Sure, it gets cold sometimes, but cold is two days at 31 degrees. Then it’s back to 75. We don’t own good coats down there. We don’t own winter boots. If there is anything above 1/4” of snow, it looks like the apocalypse.
We’re Not in Texas Anymore
Now that we live in Kansas City, heat is a lot more important. Before moving here, I didn’t know that -25 degrees existed outside of Alaska. (I know you northerners will scoff, but those are pretty shocking temperatures for anyone). I had rebuilt the house we live in a couple years ago, so it is pretty well insulated, but days without heat below freezing and no house can stay warm forever. That put us in a place we don’t come to very often: we needed the help of others.
We’re fairly self-reliant. I’m a build over buy kind of guy whenever I can be, so I do a lot of things for myself. One thing I cannot do is generate electricity by myself, and since I didn’t own a generator during this outage, I couldn’t do anything about our heater. With a nine-month-old, that’s a big deal.
One thing we do have, though, are good friends and neighbors. The people across the street all had power during our outage (my neighbor’s Christmas lights mocked me for over two days). We spent most of the time we were without power at our neighbors’ houses, including displacing some of them from their beds so our family of six could sleep in comfort.
Not only did these friends come through for us, but we enjoyed great fellowship. Sure, it’s an inconvenience to anyone to have to disrupt their normal routine, but sometimes Mother Nature forces these situations on us. Our friends, who happen to live next to us, took us in with joy.
We shared meals, enjoyed good conversation and played in the snow together.
Now That We Can See Clearly
After our power was restored, my wife and I were sitting in our comfy chairs thinking about how wonderful it was to have such good friends who would take us in during a small crisis. We also noticed how much anger and vitriol there was against the power company and against neighbors who still had power on social media.
We’re used to seeing people behave badly on social media platforms, but I was actually a little shocked that during a storm that knocked down at least half a million trees and branches people were so angry that it was taking so long to restore power.
My wife and I actually noticed a stark contrast between our friends on social media and many others. There were those fomenting hatred toward those they felt “caused” their inconvenience, but our friends posted about how thankful they were to either be taken in by friends or to be able to take them in.
Thankfulness isn’t something that only Christians know how to give, but the contrast during this storm was incredibly evident. The reason our friends were so happy to help us out was not because they were just good people. It was because we all share a bond of love in Christ together. It was our bonds of Christian love that caused us to throw our arms around each other and others around us in need with joy.
I know that my audience is probably entirely a Christian one, but if you read this and you’re longing for that underlying current of anger and despair to leave you, there is a way. No, there’s no way to avoid these little irritations in life, but there is a way to cope with them that leaves you joyful instead of bitter.
Surrendering your heart to Jesus really will transform your life. He really is our source of joy, contentment and peace in this life. When we accept His forgiveness of our sins, we end up with so much more gratitude and grace towards others who may irritate us.
I know that many of my friends and family experienced this very same thing last year in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. That was much more than a minor inconvenience; it was a catastrophe, and yet the nation was encouraged by the love and support that was poured out by friends and neighbors helping each other out. While not everyone who rushed in to help others was a Christian, the vast majority of those who did would identify as Christians. The nation didn’t miss that.
A Unique Opportunity
If you are a Christian member of my audience (you likely are), then don’t forget that much of the anger around you is because people are hurting under the weight of their own brokenness. They need what you and I have. It can be easy to cast a judgmental eye toward those on social media behaving badly, but try to resist that temptation and instead reach out with love. Invite them into the forgiveness and grace you know.
It’s in these moments of crisis that we have the greatest opportunity to show each other our love for Jesus and to invite others to know Him as we do.
When the lights go out, it’s our time to shine!