By Kimberly Poovey
A version of this post originally appeared on The Glorious Table
I grew up in South Florida. I was in kindergarten when Hurricane Andrew barreled through homes and trees just a little bit south of my childhood home. As the hurricane approached, I remember being excited to have days off from school while my parents ran around filling jugs and bathtubs with water and boarding up our windows, hoping for the best but preparing for the absolute worst. By pure geographic luck, our town only suffered heavy wind and rain while others were nearly leveled. Sixty-five lives were lost. Hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless.
A great deal changed in Florida after Hurricane Andrew. Building codes were revised to require much higher standards for wind resistance. Laws changed. Evacuation routes and emergency contingency plans were reevaluated and improved. The devastation of Hurricane Andrew changed the very fabric of our state, all with the goal of reducing the number of lives and property lost in another terrible storm.
Something else interesting that resulted from Andrew was the naming of intersections. I remember being a young child and asking my parents why every intersection in our town had a giant letter and number painted on it. They told me that after Hurricane Andrew, the state decided to start painting letters and numbers on every single intersection so that rescue workers and emergency response teams could orient themselves even if every landmark, tree, and building was leveled around them. It was a good idea. It’s smart. But it’s also terrifying. By naming the intersections, we are saying that we are prepared for a future where all that we know is wiped away and we have to start from the ground up.
As I write this, a category five hurricane is barreling down on my hometown. I was just there, visiting my family, a few days ago. The storm drove me and my four-year-old out of the state. My family is busy filling gas cans, boarding windows, and getting ready to potentially be without power for days or even weeks. It’s a scary time. None of us know what will happen next. Hurricanes are, by their very nature, completely unpredictable. They may be headed one way one moment, then completely change course—and the course of people’s lives—the next. If that’s not like life, I don’t know what is. I never want to imagine a future where everything familiar and comfortable and beloved to me is gone. The idea turns my blood to ice. but we were never promised an easy or pain-free life. Loss, tragedy, and death are all a part of the human experience. This is why I believe it’s critically important to name our intersections.
The process of deconstructing and reconstructing my faith has been unmooring. When a lifetime of absolute truths no longer feel so absolute, what can I anchor myself to? I’ve chosen to name the things that cannot be taken away, no matter what may be blown down around me.
I’ve named the intersections about myself Worthy, Valuable, Loved, Strong, and Complete.
I’ve named my intersections about God, too: Good, Kind, Compassionate, Gentle, and Wildly Inclusive.
If everything else is taken away, I need to be able to find what can never be washed away, no matter how devastating the storm. No matter what happens around me, I need to make sure that the things that are true are etched on the fabric of my reality.
Name your intersections.
Don’t forget what is true, even when it feels like all else is lost. If you know where you’re standing, you will be able to rebuild again on solid ground.
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Kimberly Poovey is the founder of The Exvangelical Parent. She is a liberal misfit Enneagram 9 INFP who likes long walks on the beach, honey-habanero lattes, and Zoloft. After spending over a decade in the ministry world, she now writes and creates full time. She lives with her partner of 15 years and their 5-year-old son in the mountains of North Carolina.