My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?
As I drove my girls to mom’s house today they started asking questions about the tornado.
“But mom, why didn’t it knock down those trees?” Mae Belle asked pointing out the window.
So many of their questions I do not have answers for and I count this one among them. But I did tell them about the group of volunteers staying in our church basement and that if our home would have been destroyed, specifically if our Christmas tree and ornaments had been damaged because they were most concerned about that on Friday night, that these volunteers would show up to help us. I told them, “That’s where God is. People have come from all over the country to help our city!”
It’s funny sometimes that kindergarteners sometimes voice questions that we all have but are too polite to ask. But hearing them ask sort of helps me sometimes.
As Kyle, Daniel & myself have caught up with church members we have noticed a common thread. Each of us is experiencing trauma whether our homes were damaged or not. Many are experiencing survivors’ guilt. All of us are deeply rattled by the tragic events of the weekend and every time we drive by someone’s destroyed home or business it touches something deep in our soul.
One translation of Psalm 6:3 is “I am heartsick, Oh God.” I think we can all relate to a collective heartsickness right now.
And so, today’s email is dedicated to volunteer opportunities and shared resources surrounding disaster relief, but I want to be sure that each of us understands that we will all have to tend to our mental health because of the largeness of this disaster in our community. Just because your home wasn’t damaged doesn’t mean that you were not impacted. It is helpful to keep perspective, of course, but please also be gentle with yourself and give yourself permission to grieve and tend to your own heart.
I thought that Pat & John Pankey’s son Rev. Steve Pankey, who is the minister at Christ Episcopal down the street, said it perfectly last night:
If you live in Warren County and didn’t have damage, but still feel tired, distracted and sad, it’s ok. We all experienced trauma. Seek help. Call a friend. Go to church. Care for one another.
And remember that your pastors are here for you. Church, I believe that this is not the end of our story. I believe that it will not feel this awful forever. I believe that the hope of Christ breaking into our lives this Christmas is more powerful now than ever.
So do stay alert: checking in with your neighbors but also with your own heart, paying attention to what the children have to say in a moment like this, and having the courage to ask for help when you need it.
I am so proud of you, church, for the ways you are showing up for your community. Thank you for your love and care during these difficult days. As Scott Taylor said on Sunday morning after the storm, “There is no place I would rather be than here with you today.”
Trusting that Jesus is coming because Jesus comes.
PS Here is a great resource on mental health following a disaster.
In response to a tremendous outpouring of support, we have set up a fund at FCC to support our community in the wake of the recent tornado. We know that there will be ongoing needs that extend beyond the time that our community is in the national media and we will be a part of those ongoing recovery efforts.
We are currently in the process of reaching out to our community partners like Habitat for Humanity, the Housing Authority, Mount Zion Baptist Church, The International Center, and Hotel Inc, among others, to find out what their greatest needs are.
We are also in touch with families in our congregation directly impacted. Most of our families have insurance but we will keep in touch with them to find out if they have other needs. We also want to support the families of our families.
While we have not yet nailed down specifics of how the fund will be used, we feel certain that we will be able to support our community not only with immediate relief but in the long term work of recovery and re-building.
If you know of someone local that is in need of assistance and you think our fund could help them, please let one of the ministers know.
You can give under “discretionary/disaster relief fund” here.
If you want to avoid fees associated with online giving you can bring in or mail a check to the church at 1106 State St Bowling Green, KY 42101.
Thank you to each of you who have given already to the fund.