Recently, I found myself in Georgia in the path of a hurricane.
Months before Hurricane Michael existed, we had decided to turn my cousin’s Columbus Day wedding in Atlanta into a two-week tour of the Southeast. By the time we learned Michael was on the way, we had already checked in to our hotel for a week in historic Savannah.
Now, I have lived in California my whole life, so hurricanes have always been something I only read about in the news or saw on television. Naturally, I was nervous. Although the news reports said we were not in the storm’s direct path, forecasters predicted strong winds and flooding in the Savannah area.
So, there I was, in the birthplace of the Girl Scouts, with a hurricane coming. It seemed natural to heed the old Girl Scout motto and “be prepared.” I told my husband I wanted to journey outside the historic district to find flashlights, food, and water. He rejected the idea. He insisted the hotel would have supplies for us, and that it would be a waste of time and money. Instead of standing my ground and insisting we get supplies, I did what he wanted to avoid a fight.
By the grace of God, the hurricane barely affected Savannah. We saw a few hours of heavy rain and some 35-mph winds, but that was all.
While we didn’t end up needing emergency supplies, I still don’t think I made the right choice. Savannah could have been as badly hit as other parts of the Southeast were, and we would have been woefully unprepared. I feared my husband’s reaction and chose the path of least resistance against my better judgment.
Finding courage on the open road
Two days later, I drove back to the Atlanta airport. Our GPS took us on some two-lane country roads to get there. Now, I have never been accused of having a lead foot, but I was going maybe five miles per hour above the speed limit. Still, cars tailgated me. I started to feel pressure to drive faster, even though technically I was already going too fast by law.
Then a voice inside me said, “You’re not doing anything wrong. You are going as fast as you are supposed to, and you wouldn’t feel safe driving faster. If other people want to go faster they can go around you.”
This time, I stood my ground. I didn’t put my family or myself at risk for fear of someone else’s aggression.
Courage to change only the things I need to change
In these two similar incidents, God gave me an important reminder: I need to stand my ground when there is no doubt I am doing the right thing. Although I am working, with God’s help, to have more courage, my first instinct is to cower to the demands of aggressors. It’s really a lose-lose-lose situation when I let the loudest option win instead of the wisest one. I make a bad choice, I feel helpless, and I teach that aggressive person that being aggressive gets them what they want from me.
I know I have written here before about how God is calls me to fight those good fights. Some lessons take me longer to learn than others. After a lifetime of letting the strongest wind determine my direction, bracing myself against it is difficult.
Still, I know with God all things are possible.
Copyright 2018 Monica Portogallo