Greetings to all. I just want to start out by thanking everyone, especially our family and friends, who are in our everyday life, not to exclude all you readers in far away lands, but in a way fortunately you only have to read my words of messiness and don’t have to be knee deep in them. Ali and I hit a big wall Saturday evening and it was not a pretty experience and that is putting it lightly. Close friends and family were around and unfortunately they got dragged into the middle of our chaotic grief explosion. Though it actually ended with what will be a fruitful outcome, for the people left in our wake my heart hurts and all I can say to them is, “I ask your forgiveness?” As I met with my counselor last Friday we talked about the messiness and chaos of my life right now. A metaphor came to me to be able to put into words what I feel like and I wanted to share it with you all.
As Hurricane Gustav approached South Louisiana one of my brothers and I shipped our families off to other states and decided to ride out the storm with another close brother of ours and his family. We all stayed at one of their houses for the storm because there were not any big trees threatening to fall and crush the house we were sheltered in. In front of his house, his cousin is in the process of building his home right now and on the side of his new house he is building a large wooden outdoor storage shed. It was all framed up with two by fours but no walls and no roof were put on yet. It was the skeleton of what was to become a really nice outdoor storage shed. My brothers and I looked at the shed and shook our heads because we knew the storm was coming and that there was a really good chance that the frame of this soon to be really nice shed was probably not going to make it through the storm. As the storm’s eye approached us the winds began to blow like nothing I have ever experienced in my adult life. The walls of the house were making cracking noises the cars outside where actually shaking from side to side. I walked to the window and saw that in fact the shed had been blown completely down, not a single board was left standing. It was a pile of jumbled lumber, some broken, some not, nails sticking out everywhere, simply, it was a mess.
I told my counselor that the shed represented my life. I finally felt like I had a vision of where God was leading me and my family long term. I had a great marriage with a wonderful wife, we were setting our eyes on the future. We were about to start a new decade of our lives truly moving into a more “adult” time. We had three beautiful children with plans for one or two more down the road. I was no longer in full time youth ministry so I was being able to spend a lot more time with my family. I was in a job that I not only enjoyed but financially we were doing ok for the first time. I had the best friends a guy could ask for and this group of guys was really moving in a direction of life long friendships.
Our building was getting framed up, the plans were being laid out and we had a skeleton of a great life framed up, knowing that we would continue to add on to it as the years went on. Well, my little family experienced its own hurricane and it has blown our little studded up shed completely down. Ali and I found ourselves standing over the splintered plans, dreams, and visions just starring in disbelief, anger, and sadness. We keep walking around it wondering, “what do we do now?” We don’t have any tools, energy, or expertise to even begin rebuilding, at least not right now. We get so angry that everything that we had worked to build has been lost, we get angry because we really liked that shed and what it was going to become. We could see ourselves in 20 years playing with our grandkids in that shed and now we are realizing that we are going to have build a new and different one.
When people come around to help us take nails out of the boards so we can stack them to get a new plan, we don’t know how to act sometimes. We are so angry that we are even having to do this that we turn on each other and/or whoever is there to help. We know it’s not right, we just can’t control it at times. It is scary to think that the people who want to help the most and who aren’t afraid to come in to the danger zone of broken boards and sharp nails poking out everywhere are the ones who often get the brunt of our anger, through little or no fault of their own. Lately I fear that eventually people will just stop coming around to help us because it is just too messy and too big of a project. The foundation is still there is just hard to see right now because it is covered up with debris from a storm that we never saw coming and had no time to prepare for.
There will come a time in the future, hopefully nearer than farther that we will begin to rebuild this little shed we call our lives. Our vision and our plans will have to be different than they were before. Maybe this time instead of a wooden building we will rebuild a nice strong metal building that will be able to withstand storms that comes our way. I ask that you all, especially those who have shown up to help us in the rebuilding effort be patient with us. We truly and whole heartedly ask forgiveness for the messiness of our life right now, it just is what it is, but I thank you for your continued perseverance and patience. We will rebuild and we will be stronger with God’s grace, strength, and forgiveness. Much Love, The Cantrell’s