When calamity comes

Or: What to do when a tree falls on your house

The recent tour of destruction by Hurricane Sandy in the northeastern U.S. delivered great distress and damage to hundreds of thousands of people. Some were even killed.

It was no small disaster. There are those in New York and New Jersey who have lost everything. Here in eastern Pennsylvania, some 150 miles from the coast, a friend of mine had two spruce trees crash through his roof. I had just one, which, providentially, merely lay over on the roof and didn’t penetrate the attic. Fortunately for both of us, the damage was to mere things—things that are repairable or replaceable.

Because life exists, so does trouble. One never travels without the other; they really are quite the pair.

This is not advice for disaster preparedness: you can get such reliable information elsewhere. (Here, for instance: www.fema.gov). However, when trouble does come to call, as it inevitably does, here are a few self-evaluative considerations for withstanding the physical and emotional onslaught.

Before trouble arrives, determine my mental provisions: On what resources may I depend regardless of my circumstances? Faith, courage, perseverance, integrity, and other virtues can be fixed in advance by the proper mindset. Like anchors in bedrock, such inner strongholds cannot be shaken by hardship, provided they have had adequate time to mature in advance. This is psychological preparedness.

In the midst of trouble, keep a healthy perspective: Are lives threatened, or merely things? Is the damage repairable or my status recoverable?  Despite difficulty, will I heal? Is there anything I may do immediately to mitigate or avoid further losses? Can I be of assistance to others in the depth of their needs? This is crisis management.

In trouble’s aftermath, re-engage my bedrock principles for insight and strength: What may I learn from this experience? Can this be an opportunity to start fresh, improve upon the old, or build back stronger? How may I avoid a repeat visit from this same kind of trouble? How do I move on from here? This is resilient recovery.

How have you prospered despite trouble?