when anxiety overwhelms: a mother’s tale of Hurricane Matthew



It was a mother’s worst-case-scenario. My husband and I had finally made time for a much needed one-night retreat away. Our children were staying with their beloved grandparents; we would be gone for a total of 24 hours and barely a few hours away. When we arrived at the retreat center, we disconnected from internet and cell phone signal was spotty. God met us right where we needed it, and when it was time to leave the next afternoon, our hearts and our marriage felt refreshed by this focused time away together.

But then there was Hurricane Matthew. We had assumed we were safe – that it was turning away from us.

Imagine our dismay when we drove only a few feet and our SUV was practically floating through an unexpected flash flood! We quickly switched into panic mode— which meant my husband went super-calm and quiet, and I wanted to talk about it all. [We both quickly realized that this wasn’t working: lessons learned in a decade of marriage.] Our focus became getting home to our kids as quickly and safely as we could, so that we could ride out whatever was coming next together.

One-and-a-half hours later, the situation deteriorated quickly. More unexpected huge puddles on the road. When I checked the satellite radar, it showed us tracking right along with Hurricane Matthew’s new and unexpected path. Evening was falling and flash flood warnings were increasing.

We finally gave up and found a hotel that wasn’t yet full in which to stay. Then we had to call the grandparents and the kiddos and try to act brave and calm about the decision that had my mother’s heart trembling: we couldn’t make it back before bedtime as planned, and we were going to try again in the morning as long as Hurricane Matthew allowed. Needless to say, it was a long night.

“When the cares of my heart are many …”(Psalm 94:19a).

When we surveyed the damage the next morning, we decided that we would risk it and try to head back to our “babies.” So we did. Roadways that almost always flood only had a few puddles  and we knew that the unexpectedly smooth journey home was in answer to the prayers of many who were interceding on our behalf. It was a joyous reunion and a relief to give and receive hugs, laughter, and tears when we got home.

“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)

And there’s a picture there, right? How anxious I am! How anxious we are collectively as a culture/nation right now!

We look around us and want to be anywhere but *here* – whether that’s the dark side of a cancer diagnosis, the turmoil of parenting challenges, a hurricane that’s wreaking havoc in your community, on the eve of a presidential election that has us all twisted in knots inside, in the midst of racial tension, stuck in a hard family relationship, etc.

We want relief. We want a way out, or a promise that we’ll make it through. Or, even better, our people with whom to ride out the storms of life – literal and metaphorical.

We have One. He fought his way through the death itself to be with us. It was costly [he died] – but miraculous [God raised him to life]. And it’s the only Hope I know that’s so sure and secure it is called, “an anchor of the soul.”

“We have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul …”(Hebrews 6:19).

If this post resonates with you, I want to recommend that you pick up a copy of A Heart Set Free by our very own Christina Fox. What I found in her book was a pathway out of and through anxiety and depression to hope that is real. She weaves a story of her own journey with solid biblical truth to remind readers that, “When our emotions are taking us on a roller coaster ride, our theology is a steady horizon that keeps us in place” (p. 135).

I found this book to be anchoring and steadfast as she walked with me like a friend reminding me of truth and where to put my wavering heart. She walks through the psalms of lament, and she shows how these Scriptures give us words for our dark times and hope that God will see us through. “All these truths from God’s Word are anchors for our heart when the waves of circumstances roll over us and when our emotions are tossed to and fro. These are truths we need to imprint upon our heart for the days when life is hard and all seems bleak. Memorize them. Believe them. Trust them.” (p. 171)

When the storms of life hit (perhaps literally), where do you turn? How have you known the peace of Jesus even in the very middle of the very worst troubles in your life?