They aren't just things. They are lives. They are memories. They are baby pictures, wedding pictures, the only pictures they had of deceased loved ones. They are family Bibles, personal Bibles, Mom and Dad's Bible. They are clothes, beds (you know, like the one you are used to sleeping in), and a favorite chair. They are the children's toys, the children's medical records, maybe all they have left of a child they lost. These things make up lives. They are memories of their lives, comfort in their lives, the place they lived their lives. And they are gone.
Try to wrap your brain around that for a moment.
I'll tell you the truth. I can't. I go on vacation for more than 6 days, and the urge to sleep in my own bed overtakes me, and I point the truck toward my driveway. Right now I am wearing my favorite sweatshirt, and my Bible and journal with all kinds of notes and revelations sit on the table beside me. I can get up, walk into my kitchen, make coffee, make bacon and eggs, and sit down to eat at the table that belonged to my late husband's grandmother.
I think too often we minimize the depth of the loss by babbling about the bright side. After all, most of them have their families, and really, that is all that matters. Really? Go spend three days in a hotel room with your family with no clothes, no computers/tablets/Gameboys, knowing you can't go home, no way of knowing when you will go home, or worse, being working or lower class not being able to afford adequate insurance to rebuild or pay off what is left of your mortgage and wondering what you are going to do now.
And do not even go down the "they should have..." road with me. I've heard the excuses of how people should have insurance, should prepare, should plan ahead. Here is the reality. Some people simply make enough money to hopefully pay the basic bills and buy food, and some weeks or months, they don't even succeed with that. Not because they aren't good stewards of their money but because they are the people who keep this nation running with the jobs most of us can't imagine ever having to do. Believe it or not, a person can be a hard worker and a good steward and still barely make ends meet and sometimes not even do that.
Speaking of hard workers, it is hard to work when the business that employed you is flooded, destroyed, or closed for who knows how long. Now how are you going to pay for the food to feed your family that is staying in the hotel room until who knows when? How are you going to pay for the hotel?
See, we dismiss the greatness of the loss by saying, "It's just things," but it isn't just things. These are places where lives are lived, and right now, there is no way to live there.
Yes, these people will overcome like others have done, but for just a moment, instead of simply saying a prayer and trusting God to do something, stop and ask yourself if you are the something God wants to do.
Are you the hands and feet to help clean out soaked and stinking household items?
Are the face of Jesus smiling as you pour out a bowl of gumbo?
Are you the one finding every industrial coffee maker in the area church kitchens so you can spend your day making coffee for the people who are working tirelessly to love on people in shelters?
Are you the rich man giving to the poor from your income?
Are you the organizational wizard connecting with folks to find out when a good time a team from your church can go and be useful in some way?
Are you the strength packing the trailers with clothing, food, diapers, and baby formula heading to folks who have no way or place to buy it there?
Are you the comfort buying up the character bedding at the store to take to kids who need something that feels special because they need to feel special?
Absolutely be a person of faith and pray for God to be the answer for these people,
but I encourage you to be a person of courage as well and ask God how He wants to be the answer through you.
If you want more information on what you can do or where to go to help in Louisiana, Rod Dreher at the American Conservative can help you connect with the right folks.
copyright 2016 Jerri L. Kelley