The alarm went off the other day and I waited a few minutes for the news at the top of the hour. I was struggling with that great period between being asleep and awake (and definitely leaning toward being asleep) when they reported an 8.2 earthquake in Chile with tsunamis resulting.
Now I was awake.
Our son Nick is in Peru and I was worried about how close he might be. Would there be aftershocks? How far up the coast would the trouble go?
I felt concern as I got out of bed and went to the TV for more comprehensive coverage.
These things are happening more and more: Earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, droughts, floods, tornados, fires, famine and starvation, planes disappearing, one country invading another, talks of war.
I would think that those in Chile during the quake were afraid. Very afraid. I think that anyone in that situation would be. You’d have to be kind of a robot not to feel something pretty terrifying.
Life can be pretty scary. We never really have an assurance that we will make it to the end of the day all in one piece, or even at all. We can’t guarantee the safety of those we love or keep them right at our feet all day to make sure they are okay.
So, how can we deal with all of these scary possibilities that could realistically happen to us at any moment?
Should we be afraid?
Going back to the earthquake in Chile, Ann and I listened carefully to the news to know what step to take next. We have phone numbers and contact information for Nick. Our passports are ready and the money for plane tickets is sitting in an account just in case. We didn’t have to waste time wondering how to do what needed to be done. We could focus instead just on what needed to be done.
As we listened and looked at maps, we knew that, for now, things are okay and the appropriate course of action was to do nothing but wait.
Because of that, our level of fear was ratcheted down to concern.
After that we read our scriptures together and had family prayer.
And we went on with our day.
I think there are scary things that are going on, and I think there are things that we should be appropriately afraid of.
I’m just not sure they are the same things.
We can make reasonable assessments of our surroundings and potential problems that may arise. For example, Ann and I have earthquake insurance on our home. It seems that there is a likely probability that we could experience that specific type of natural disaster, so it only makes sense to be prepared. We have 72 hour kits and a pretty healthy food storage. Our community practices natural disaster drills and we know exactly who to contact in case something happens so that we are accounted for and can offer our help.
More than that, I’m not sure what else we can do.
But you know, I don’t spend any time being afraid of an earthquake. We’ve done what we can. It will be a power far beyond any I can imagine and I can’t stop it. But I do know that Ann and I will pick up and move on, together.
But there is something that I would be afraid of: Not picking up and moving on with Ann.
Am I as prepared about that as I am for an earthquake?
These things are also happening more and more: Adultery, divorce, addictions that destroy relationships, rebellion, anger, apathy.
Given the choice, I’m more afraid of these than I am the natural things going on around me.
So what kind of insurance am I taking out to help me be ready for these potential disasters?
Would I make a reasonable assessment of our family and potential problems and come to the conclusion that it would not be very likely that we would experience any of the above?
That may be tempting seeing as how we are so darn happy.
But it would be foolish.
Just like our experience with the earthquake in Chile, Ann and I must be cautious to listen carefully each day to the words that are said and not said, the actions that happen and don’t happen. This helps us to know what step to take next.
We have put in the time and care to have open lines of communication, to watch and talk about concerns that come up before they become fears. It’s kind of like having our passports ready and money for plane tickets in an account. We don’t waste time trying to figure out how to do what we need to do, we can just focus on doing what we need to do.
And as we listen to each other and look into each other’s eyes, we know that, for now, things are okay.
Because of that, our level of fear is ratcheted down to watchful concern.
After that we read our scriptures together and have family prayer.
And we go on with our day.