Face it! It’s a Storm!

The human mind and heart are an incredible machine when their owner chooses to engage them at full throttle. They are an automated team that simultaneously thinks and feels, combines those inputs, and calculates both their plain meanings, their possible meanings, and their implications. And all those outputs happen in a split second. But when their owner thinks there is no point in proceeding they are incapable of success. They can produce endless reasons to justify giving up. A grand key to success is to keep moving, to consider the facts, however daunting, to reach for hope, and to thus let the mind and heart find a way.

When this goal-seeking alliance teams up with hope there is virtually nothing that can thwart progress. Imagine you are caught in a terrific sandstorm. Visibility is 20 or 30 feet, it is difficult to walk in any direction, and you have no idea which way you should move. By facing the storm and moving into it with determination, your senses are unusually active and pick up even the smallest inputs. A slight change in the direction of the wind tells you there is an obstacle ahead. You soon find it. The point is this: if you had chosen to run with the wind, you would not have detected the shelter waiting there.

A True Storm Story

Clark Bronson, world-famous wildlife artist and sculptor was a dear friend of mine. He and his wife lived a few blocks from us. They had spent a quarter century exploring and photographing wildlife in western Canada while living on a boat on the Inside Passage. He once related the following story to me.

Two wealthy businessmen had an appointment with him and he was on his craft three hours south of their intended meeting place. He planned to start the afternoon before and spend the night in that port, but as he got well underway, a storm blew up that soon threatened to swamp his 55-foot craft that was plunging and struggling. He understood the nature of waves and carefully counted them until he was certain he had the pattern identified. He had determined that his best choice was to turn around and run with the wind when the proper wave came.

As he steeled himself and tensed his muscles to throw the rudder hard at the perfect moment, a loud voice on his right said, “It won’t work.” Surprised, he froze and looked to see who was there but saw nothing but the raging storm. The supposed opportunity was gone and in awe of the voice, he determined to face the storm and continue his course. It took eight hours to make the three-hour trip, but he arrived safely and in time for the important meeting.

A Lesson Learned

My father bought a small apple orchard in the bottom of the valley of the Naches River, Washington. It was about fifteen miles upriver from the city Naches. His object was to improve the orchard and clear the rocky river bottom land for a new, larger orchard. Because it was 25 miles from our home and he already had two other orchard properties, I was often left alone to get the work done.

Anyone who has farmed for more than a few days understands why farmers know how to swear. A constant stream of problems frustrates and challenges such work. During one summer between semesters at Washington State College in Pullman, I learned the difference that facing the storm could make. It was a choice between acting or being acted upon, between control and victimhood.

Mascot Owl Flying Left

When equipment failed or was just not even available, I often found myself thinking – talking to Dad and explaining why I had not been able to get the work done. Other times I chose to accept the problem as a challenge to my intellect and physical ability. As the weeks went by I realized that the difference was all in my head and my heart and how I let them interact with one another. I decided I would take on every problem as an opportunity to prove my abilities. I remember making a tractor work by using fence wire, and sticks, and stones. Yes, literally sticks and stones. It made me laugh then and now.

What a difference that made! The rest of that summer was a fun adventure. Oh yes, I failed several times to get the work done, yet every day I had the sweet success of knowing I had done my darnedest. That experience was one of the most valuable lessons of my life. There were storms, but facing them was liberating and satisfying. In a real sense, even when they made me fail, I succeeded anyway.

Who is in Charge Here?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said when we are compelled to go a mile we should go a second mile. One reason to do that is that during the second mile, we are back in control. That second mile assures you, and your oppressor, that you are a free agent. Being in control is a heady state while being acted upon is the victim state.

There are other implications here. When we experience a strong but undesirable emotion it is best to face it, own it, and become its master. You cannot do that by trying to bury or dodge it. Far better to face it head-on, recognize it, let it wash over you, and then deal with it before reacting in any way to its agenda.

Life is full of wonder and adventure when we choose to face it that way. Even when we have failed, it is an adventure in learning and appreciating the endless variety of our circumstances and the opportunities they give us to grow. The key is always to recognize thoughts and feelings for what they are: just thoughts and feelings. We can choose to keep them there or relinquish control to them – to act or to be acted upon.

There will always be storms. It will rain on some picnics, the Grand Canyon will be full of fog, the cake will fall, the car won’t start, and sometimes life will seem not only useless but something to get out of as fast as possible. That’s when we need to look in the mirror and say,

Let’s face it! It’s a storm!

But it is just a passing storm.

Jackson Pemberton
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1 thought on “Face it! It’s a Storm!

  1. Beautiful considerations in regard to the challenges with face, Jackson! Thank you for sharing and inspiring me to continue on the path beyond what is expected,, seizing opportunity to feel more empowered and challenged.

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