The Night I Grew Up


Hurricane Ivan. Pensacola, FL, 9/16/2004.

Hurricane Ivan. Pensacola, FL, 9/16/2004.

I miss the luxury of time. (Don’t we all?) Now that I grade essays around the clock, blogging is rare. But tonight, as I sit here tuckered out from a day with high schoolers, I’m compelled to write—but without the energy to edit. Do I dare? Turns out, yes! As much as publishing a very rough draft goes against the English teacher grain, the bigger pull—the Voice within—tells me to do it anyway. So here is my raw, uncut musings of September 16, 2004:

Eleven years ago today my Christian faith changed forever. Every anniversary of Hurricane Ivan takes me back to a fierce internal struggle on a seemingly eternal night. It was around 2:00 a.m. in Mom’s dark hallway when I realized my belief was naive and shallow. As the winds howled and the house shook, I wanted God’s assurance that our roof would hold and that we would be fine. I wanted to proclaim aloud, with unwavering faith, that no harm would come.

But did I believe it? Saints throughout history had surely begged for mercy that eluded them—on this side of Heaven, anyway. Even Jesus asked God to spare Him death, and we all know how that turned out. My brain was spinning like those windblown boats. And I was scared.

The fear was honestly more about my shaky faith than my well-being. Did I really know God at all? What if He said “no” to what I desperately wanted? Was He still good? Was He mad at me?

Ugly thoughts. Ugly hours. But necessary ones.

When morning finally came, an intimate, uncomfortable journey toward mature faith began. Over the next few months, I forced myself to dig into the Word, tears flowing. My heart was breaking; I felt betrayed by a God I hardly knew. But my Heavenly Father, in His tender love, was patient. He began giving me fresh understanding, new perspective, and deeper relationship. He helped me grow up.

My prayer since that time has focused on aligning my desires with His—which, biblically speaking, are mostly about showing His glory and sharing His love, not guaranteeing my earthly comfort. Pointing toward the Risen Lord is the goal, always. There really is no other reason to live—or die. And I hope, with all my heart, that every storm hereafter finds me in this mindset: “[Jesus said], ‘In this world you will have trials and troubles, but take heart: I have overcome the world.'” John 16:33


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