Growing up in western Washington, rain was a thing.
Not a thing like, ‘Oh man, this is happening! Check it out!’ But a thing like, ‘Eh. Been there, done that.’
I recently read that my hometown has averaged 40 inches of rain per year over the past 30 years. Yup, rain was a thing.
It was a given that wet shoes, soaked pants legs, and damp hair just happened for about 10 months out of the year. Eskimos have 50 words for snow. Washingtonians probably are close behind them in how we talk about the wet stuff that seems to never stop falling from the sky.
Then I moved to Tijuana and rain became a different kind of thing. A thing that makes roads wash out and schools close and major highways become rivers. I laughed the other day when the weather forecast was described as ‘rainy’ because for one hour during an otherwise sunny day, there was a slight percentage of a chance of showers.
Our neighborhood sits on the edge of two cities, at the outer limit of all the utility services offered by both communities. Due to the unexpected growth in our areas over the past five or so years, the infrastructure for electricity, internet, phones, and water has hit maximum capacity. Any small change to the environment throws everything off.
It’s hard to believe that when I see storm clouds forming on the horizon, a bubble of anxiety starts to grow in my chest. The winds shift and I fight panic. Pitter-patter of rain drops on the skylight make my heart race. All this from a girl who grew up with so much rain there was no point in even owning an umbrella.
Why the panic? When it rains, it usually causes our power to cut out. Our kids are slightly terrified of the power going out. There have been too many times when the lights go out in the middle of the night, which causes their sound machines to go silent and their night lights to go dark. They wake up screaming in panic and are almost impossible to settle back down to sleep. Being woken from a deep slumber by the silent ‘whoosh’ of the power cutting out gives us a brief second before the wailing erupts. It’s adrenaline mixed with bruised shins from running into the side of the bed all while trying to reason with an irrational, overly emotional three year old and answer all the questions of a six year old who is trying to be brave but is really scared and attempting to rock a crying one year old back to sleep.
I have chosen to let rain become a trigger for anxiety.
It would be easy to say ‘Rain makes me anxious.’ The truth is that I have decided that rain is a cue for panic. Laying in bed, listening to the rain pelt the side of the house, I fought off that anxiety last night as I hoped and prayed that the power would stay strong. As if my anxious thoughts somehow influence the outcome of events.
And that’s the kicker – my anxiety can not control how things work. Sure, there’s a biological response with adrenaline and hormones that helps save my life if there is an actual emergency (thank you ‘flight or fight’ response). A rainstorm is far from a life and death event, but I’m responding like it is. There is no mental ritual I can do that will keep the power from cutting out. I can find flashlights and make sure all the electronic gadgets are fully charged, but my efforts won’t change the weather’s mind.
Anxiety is a thief, not a servant.
It steals peace. It steals sleep (my pounding heart, racing mind, and twitching muscles take a long time to calm down). It steals trust. It steals life.
I love the day after the rain. We hurry to pull on rain boots and hustle out the door, hunting for the biggest and sloppiest puddles. Splash! Slosh! Splosh! Squelch! Mud squished between fingers and toes. Smiles a mile wide. It’s one of my favorite moments as a mom, watching the kids run and jump and kick through every puddle they find.
I want to find a different response to rain. I want to meditate on the joy of puddles, boots, and dripping wet socks. I want to release control and learn to trust God again, not believe the whispers of fear that tempt me to not let go. It’s rain, after all.
It’s just a thing.