By Jennifer Davis Rash
Managing Editor, The Alabama Baptist
Tears flowed uncontrollably early one morning about two weeks in, but the rest of the time I’ve lived in a sort of numbness. One side of me tortured to rush back to my hometown to help, the other side convinced that as long as I don’t go I won’t have to relive the pain of what I saw.
I’m not sure if it’s my survival mode kicking in or just plain denial, but I do know it all relates to April 27.
Do you sense it? It’s surreal, like we are existing but not really living and that maybe, just maybe, we’ll wake up soon and all of this will have just been a nightmare.
So much devastation, so much pain. If you are an Alabamian or have any connection to Alabama, you have been impacted in some way by the deadly tornadoes that stomped across our state, stealing an unfair share of lives, property and possessions.
Listening to so many who heard the horrifying whistle of that “freight train” and felt the pressure and intensity of the monster storm pulling with all its might sounds like something only found in the movies. Seeing the vicious results duplicated over and over across two-thirds of our state is overwhelming. Understanding the true loss that families have endured just shouldn’t be.
But it is and life will forever be changed.
Still amid all the tragedy, there is hope and goodness. God is being glorified and His people are shining through all the dirt and debris.
The love and compassion are magnified. An overflowing spirit of giving shows no sign of fatigue. And those are all good things, because this is going to be a long journey.
Many will seem to forget, returning to the routines of life. And well meaning friends outside the state will seem shocked to learn the tornadoes are still a vivid part of your life. There may come a time you want to stand up and shout to those bustling around you, “Hey, don’t you remember what happened? How can you go back to your normal routines and not realize the pain and sadness here?”
Finding a new normal
But some type of normalcy will develop, even if the new normal revolves around the continued recovery and rebuilding effort. And our driving need to begin each conversation by asking how the other person fared in the storms and if their family is OK will fade. We will eventually find new topics of conversation, and it will be acceptable to talk about things other than the tornadoes.
For now, it is still too fresh, too real. It’s only been a month and there’s so much healing still to do. How that process is supposed to play out, I do not know, but I do know God is with us and will not forsake us. I know Alabama Baptists are committed for the long haul, and I know the incredible resiliency shown so far by Alabamians brings to life the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. … Therefore we do not lose heart. … So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”