“By the waters of Babylon, we lay down and wept.
And wept for thee O Zion…”
I hadn’t thought of this song in years, but being daily surrounded by countless 2005 hurricane victims resurrected it from the cobwebs. Those lines encase the whole of traumatic agony and loss. Until the 2005 Hurricane Season, no one on the Gulf Coast understood what losing your home really meant. It isn’t just the building, it is the community and normality of your routine.
Surprisingly, the hurricane refugees have much in common with the Children of Israel who sat on the banks of the Tigress River grieving their captivity, strumming their harps and weeping for Zion.
I am employed by a home designer. Before Katrina the customers were relaxed, starry-eyed and filled with visions of their perfect dream home. Now the customers seeking shelter are angry, fearful and weary.
It is one thing to “plan” to build a new home. It is another thing to suddenly be forced to make that decision. After the stress of losing everything you own, fighting for an adequate insurance settlement, being displaced and losing community; add home building to the top of the list along with furnishing that home and it is amazing the entire population is not on Prozac® - although I dare say 75% are.
Many tear up during their consultation. They share their own personal stories of escape, loss and despair. We pass tissues and weep with them. We too have laid down our harps and are weeping by the waters of the Gulf.
As a refugee myself, I can relate. I lost my home, was displaced and lived at work for 4 months. Great commute! Walking through decisions, numb to the emotions, is walking by faith.
Backed into a corner, with few options pressured me. I hate pressure. I prefer to weigh the options, agonize over it and finally – yet very hesitantly make a decision. Then worry whether I did the right thing.
How do you find “home” again?
The day I evacuated God reminded me of Lot’s wife and advised me to: “Not look back.”
When He gave me that encouraging word, I assumed it meant when the storm had subsided, I would return to nothing.
In a sense, that was partially true.
In the broader scope, God was preparing me for the quick and speedy process of decision-making I was about to enter. He knew my confidence battle in making decisions. He knew I would have to face all of my personality quirks. His love for me was preparing me.
With every decision I made, every check written and every swipe of the plastic…was bolstered with the confident assurance that I was not alone in this process. That He was walking along side me, holding my hand – not so sure He was holding my hand when the plastic zinged – but none the less, He was there every step of the journey.
And the most amazing thing…a month into the decision I find myself at “home.” A rest and calm has flooded my soul. Everyone who has come to visit my new home has commented on how peaceful it feels. It still does not feel like home. As one friend put it, “It feels strange to have something so new and nice at such a high price.”
That sums up the whole experience…the same, in difference.
Today as I worked with another couple, I saw the same internal struggle raging in them. I found myself comforting them and assuring them that this would be a good thing. That they would have a new life, yes, it would be different, but who is to say it will not be better?
Israel’s disobedience had resulted in their Babylonian captivity. Yet, God in His infinite mercy and love for the nation told them to build houses and prosper while they were in this foreign land. That He had a plan for them to prosper. He had a plan for their hope, not their destruction.
Those of us on the Gulf Coast were not planning on tearing down, but we will be building up for a good long while! Although we play a mournful dirge on our heartstrings mourning the loss of home – in every sense of the word, in time, it may modulate into a song of joyful praise!
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