Unless you are living in a pineapple under the sea, then you probably have heard about, and/or firsthand experienced Jonas-the east coast blizzard of 2016. If you didn’t get the privilege of experiencing this snowstorm scenery, then picture the Jonas Brothers. The boy-band of 2009. Have you ever listened to them? They were loud and a visionary overload and drove lots of people crazy (good crazy, bad crazy). This Jonas snow storm was like the Jonas Brothers. A big hit.
Sitting here looking at the mountains of snow outside of the window makes it easy for me to reflect upon the blizzard that came with a blast to Central, PA just a few days ago. I never knew I could learn so much from weather. But this weekend was like “Life Lessons 101: Snowstorm Style” for me, and it was something else. Life lessons I learned from a blizzard:
When you know its going to snow…buy a shovel.
Why is a shovel important? It picks things up and puts them down…snow, usually. My husband and I woke up on Saturday morning, really excited about the snow. We are both from the Pocono Mountains, PA so snow is something that speaks to our souls on a spiritual level. When we looked out our screened-patio door we saw that the snow was as high as our waist. We got geared up in our snow gear, ready to face the mess and save our cars (which were only antennas sticking out of the snow). It took us a few layers of long johns and mittens to finally realize we were missing something very important. A freaking shovel. Life lesson: be prepared. Buy a shovel.
When it snows, everything is closed.
What a novel idea; people closing their businesses in dangerous weather. Well they should not have done that because, like, didn’t they know Dylan and I needed shovels!? The answer is no, no they didn’t know that. They were smart and sold shovels to smart people who bought shovels before the snow. Life lesson: don’t waist your time calling every store in your county. They aren’t open.
Good friends will walk miles in the snow to say “Hello!”
True story. It wasn’t exactly “miles,” but it was the equivalent of a three minute car drive. After failed attempts to buy a shovel, we called upon our friends who we knew lived near us. They LOVED the idea of a stroll in the snow…the waist-high snow. So they were eager and also kind enough to make the trek to our home. Wow! The amount of blessing I felt from their impromptu visit is intense. They came to us with a shovel in hand, and that was really so cool of them. Together we shoveled and frolicked and spent an entire snow day having childlike-fun.
Seeing my friends covered in snow, smiles on their faces, ready to help/visit/talk/play/shovel was really quite rewarding. I stood halfway buried in the snow and I realized how Christ-like they were. These are friends who I know already desire to be Christ-like. This day, they were accomplishing that desire. It says in John 10 that Jesus is a Good Shepherd who will go as far as necessary to find just one missing sheep. The distance, the trial, the time- none of it matters to Him. He wants to spend time with us, the people He loves. He meets us where we’re at. The Bible describes Jesus as knocking on the door (AKA, our hearts). I picture Jesus looking a bit like my friends when He knocks. Smiling, eager, joyful, shovel in hand, ready to help or do anything that is necessary. He walks through waist-high snow just to say “Hello,” and hopefully to do more than that. To shovel out our messes, to laugh, to visit, to share a cup of hot tea and love on.
At the end of the day my husband and I had to walk back to our house (because we ended up walking back to their house) and that late night, snow-stroll is when I learned another lesson.
You won’t fall.
“You won’t fall, Chris!” That is the sentence my poor husband had to say to me probably 100 times on our walk home.
Backstory to my fear of falling on my tush: I grew up in a house with my mother and grandparents. I was an only child. I only watched shows like The Andy Griffith Show, Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, and Little House on the Prairie growing up. I spent all of my childhood summers performing at a theater where the majority of our audiences were buses from senior citizen communities. AKA: I have always internally been an 80 year old woman. Falling is a subconscious, logical fear that I have!
Anyways, the entire walk home was stressful for my legs that were clinched tight and my feet that walked slower than a caterpillar. Not only that, but have you ever walked on a deserted, main road covered in three feet of snow in the dark? Yes it is breathtaking and beautiful under the street lights…but…it is also kind of creepy. Something out of a cheap, apocalyptic horror film. The fears in my ear-muff covered mind were crippling me. I was not taking in the rare opportunity I had to stroll, alone in the snow, with my favorite man on the planet. I was not even listening to this said, wonderful man, encourage me repeatedly “You won’t fall. Chris, I got you. Babe, just walk normal. One foot in front of the other. Stop walking like your in a nursing home. Chris, you’re beautiful. You’re fine. I got you.” And he did, his hand never left my side. But my stupid fears were making me walk slow and stare at my feet. Isn’t faith like that sometimes too?
Sometimes what we fear is all we see. Sometimes it feels like we are wearing little “fear blinders” and we don’t see the joy, the goodness, the endless opportunities around us. Most importantly, we don’t see our savior and protector Jesus Christ holding us, guiding us, and walking alongside of us. If He is for us,who can be against us? Friends, I didn’t fall. And even if I did…I would have had help. I would have gotten back up. I would have been fine. You won’t fall. Despite all the lies our minds listen to- you won’t fall.
People’s true colors show in the snow.
It’s true. People are pretty split when it snows: “Oh my goodness! I LOVE the snow! This is perfect, this is wonderful, everything is blizzard bliss!” vs. “What. Is. Happening. Yes, I know I live in the north- but THIS IS RIDICULOUS! Why is it snowing? I hate this!!!” Okay those were both exaggerations. But I honestly I feel both of these emotions alternating every hour…I know I’m not alone on that one.
When I say “people’s true colors show in the snow,” I mean something different though. This snowstorm was a unique one for me. All my life, whenever it snowed it only effected my family and I. Our house was secluded and our driveway was all we were responsible for. We love helping people, but they way our neighborhood was set up/the amount of snow the Poconos gets made it difficult to venture out and help others. Basically, it was always every man for himself when shoveling back home.
That is not the case in the suburban neighborhood my husband and I settled into. I learned, for the first time, that plow trucks can actually plow in cars parked alongside of the street! I learned that trying to shovel a car out of a street spot next to twenty other buried cars is rreeaally challenging! I learned that everyone apparently decides to shovel their cars/walkways at the same. exact. time. That last one turned out to be super cool!
Early on Saturday morning, before our friends had walked to our house, Dylan went out alone and tried to find a neighbor who had a shovel. He saw an older man shoveling out his car which was next to Dylan’s. Luckily enough, he had an extra shovel with him. He was kind enough to let Dylan borrow the shovel so he could save his buried mustang (the ‘stang is something I have a love/hate relationship with). Fast forward to the next day, Dylan and I discovered a near by store was open so we walked there and bought TWO SHOVELS (Take that winter stupidity). We went to our cars and started shoveling. It was actually kind of awkward at first (which most things are for me). All of our neighbors were out shoveling their cars too. They were all friends, helping each other, laughing, having a great time. I felt out of place! Suddenly, Dylan heard a familiar voice call out his name “Dylan! You got shovels! That’s great!” It was the neighbor who helped him the day before. Right away my outgoing husband was off shaking hands and talking with neighbors. I, who surprisingly am not as outgoing in these situations, watched Dylan leave his car and start shoveling other peoples’ cars. It was as if he had known them forever and was part of the “clan” who lived across our street. I followed him and shoveled wherever he shoveled. “That’s my wife, Chrisanna.” One little introduction was all it took. I started to talk with the wives of the men Dylan was helping. Not too long after I saw a small plow drive up to us. “Hey, I live across the street next to all of these folks. I’m plowing out their parking spaces…move your car, I’ll plow out yours too.” ANGELS WERE SINGING. LIGHT IS BEAMING FROM THE HEAVENS. Our shoveling was saved! It felt like we were accepted into an exclusive club of neighborhood BFFs. It. was. awesome. He plowed out our spots. Dylan shoveled out other people’s cars with men. I wiped off car roof tops with the wives (easy work please and thank you). An older ex-Navy seal came up to me and said “You know, we were all wondering where you guys went last month. You were gone for a long time. Did you see the package that was sitting on your front step? I watched it everyday for you- didn’t want anyone to take it. You guys were sure gone long.” I looked at him and was filled with a new kind of love. A love that appreciates the kindness, the observation, of strangers who care. This man was no longer a stranger, now he was my neighbor. I said to him, “Thank you. We did get the package! Actually we were gone because we got married. So we were away for the wedding and the honeymoon.” His eyes lit up, “Really? A wedding? That is so wonderful! Wow, congratulations!” He went off and told all of his neighborhood BFFs that we were newlyweds and the CONGRATULATIONS spilled out everywhere. I felt connected, I felt accepted, I felt loved. It was really great. It was welcoming. It was bonding- all because of some stupid, ridiculous amount of snow- I got to bond with strangers who were now my neighbors.
Jesus told us to love our neighbors. It was hard for me to love my neighbors before this snowstorm. Why? Because I didn’t even know them. Not knowing our neighbors, or not “hating” our neighbors is not the same as loving our neighbors. The body of Christ is called to reach out, get to know, and love neighbors everywhere. The body of Christ will never grow if people don’t take time to know each other. Helping each other, talking, bonding- it was all love. These people don’t profess to be Christians, I don’t know my neighbors’ beliefs, but I know that they showed me Christ-like love. I know that I am able to love them better because I know them. In Christ we are fully known. Fully loved. We have to reflect that with the people around us. No more of this shutting the door quick nonsense. No more of this keeping to ourselves. Let’s knock on the doors, offer a hand, and say more than just “Hello.” This blizzard taught me to love better. To love like my friends who would walk through the snow to knock on my door. To love like my husband who would hold my hand and walk slow with me, even though my fears are silly. To love like my neighbors who offered help, showed kindness, and said more than just “hello.” To love like Christ is to live fuller, better, and more abundantly.