Introduction

“I didn’t fully see, until the cancer, how we fight every day against the creeping negatives of the world, how we struggle daily against the slow lapping of cynicism. Dispiritedness and disappointment, these were the real perils of life, not some sudden illness or cataclysmic millennium doomsday.” These words were written by Lance Armstrong in his autobiography, It’s Not about the Bike. By now, everybody knows Lance Armstrong. As the American cyclist who has won more Tour de France cycling championship titles than anyone else, Armstrong nearly achieved immortality through his remarkable and highly publicized bout with testicular cancer. He survived and went on to win the prestigious cycling championship six more times. Of course, he is mortal, but he possesses a spirit that helped him to transcend the boundaries of mortality, and to push the limitations of the human body to achieve greatness in one of the most grueling sporting events in the world.

But like anyone else faced with a devastating sickness that could end his life, Armstrong was caught up in a personal storm that could have wiped him out. While the storm of chemo battles and depression raged around him, he could have given up. But he persevered, defying illness and death to rise from the proverbial ashes to a mountain of success.

Like Armstrong and many others who possess similar qualities, there comes a time in our lives when we will be faced with our own personal storms. It is not a question as to whether they will come, but when. The greater issue is when the storms of life attempt to overtake us, will they find us prepared? Will they find us with the moral fortitude to withstand them or will they find us weak, fearful and frazzled, curled up in a corner? Will the storms find us standing tall, hopeful, energetic, strong and in a state of solid and stout defiance against their raging winds?
Webster gives sixteen entries for the word “storm” varying in definition from natural to personal events. But they all carry the idea of disturbance, violence, agitation, tumult or commotion. They are indicative of a state of confusion, whether natural or emotional.

In this book we are not concerned about natural storms, the kinds that we are familiar with in Florida, the Caribbean and other parts of the world where natural storms pose a threat to life and property. Rather, we are concerned about the personal storms that come up against us in life. These storms are largely self-manufactured or self-created. We either create them or we allow others to create them for us. They are largely the products of lifestyles that we have indulged for too long; lifestyles that have robbed us of the peace and contentment for which we desperately search and which have eluded us for too long.

The central theme of this book is that we have power over these storms. We can bring an end to the swirling confusion around us. What we do, we can undo. What we allow others to do to us, and perhaps still have us swirling in, we can bring an end to by establishing the correct boundaries and saying once and for all: “Enough is enough.” If we are not prepared to do this, then we must stop the whining and stop blaming others for our misfortune. It is time that we grow up and take responsibility for our lives. For some of us, we do not have to remain in a relationship that is abusive and violent. We do not have to hang around someone who has no respect for our dignity as a person or who does not have sufficient respect for who we are as human beings. We do not have to continue hanging out with friends with whom we have been snorting coke and smoking marijuana.

To end the storms in our lives we have to stop lying to ourselves. We do not succeed at our jobs because we have a rotten attitude that is getting in the way of our work and others. If we thought for a moment, we might determine that the problem lies within our own soul and not anyone else’s. Our children are messing up not merely because they want to be disobedient or because they are living through the turmoil of adolescence. They are acting out because we are too concerned about our own little world that has isolated them from us. They are crying out for a hug, but we are too busy in our self-absorbed world to hear their cries. We do not care enough to listen. It is not that we do not have what it takes to make a success of our lives, but that we are too busy messing in other people’s lives. Their business has become ours without an invitation. We cannot find time to develop your latent talents and God-given abilities because your precious time is taken up putting our noses where they do not belong. It is time for the lies to end.

I could go on and on but we are beginning to get the picture. The intention of this book is not to beat anyone over the head with a moralistic plank. This hardly gets the job done. Rather, I hope to stir us to action, to get us so righteously indignant with ourselves that we will begin to take the first steps in dealing with the storms in our lives. We cannot remain in the same mode after we have read this book. It will be brutally frank, but after we have finished reading it we will be thankful for the unabashed honesty.

I am totally convinced that we have it within ourselves to end the storms in your lives. We have it within us to come to a place of peace and contentment that may have eluded us for many years, that peace for which we all crave. To be at peace is one of the greatest longings of the human heart but many people do not know how to achieve it. They mistake a temporary, fleeting moment of happiness for peace. For some, a week of hot, lustful sexual encounter is considered the predicate on which a lasting relationship can be built. Some believe a big bank account and vast land holdings are guarantees of lasting peace in their lives only to discover that their passion for acquisition has not been a faithful ally in their search for contentment. When the storm winds begin to blow what will they do?

I will not give the impression that finding peace in the midst of life’s storms is an easy proposition. Life at its best is tough. As many of us have discovered, it is filled with great tragedies, but also great opportunities. What I have tried to do in this book is not to set out neat panaceas about how we can achieve peace. It would be very easy for me as priest in the church for over twenty-five years to simply tell you to pray or “try Jesus” and all will be well. But if I have learned anything over these years it must be that life does not offer these neat solutions to its many tragedies.

I am well aware that the peace that the early apostles of Jesus enjoyed was not achieved in the absence of conflict, but when all the odds were stacked against them. They had faith when all seemed lost. Therefore, it is never a way of truth to speak of peace without storms, but peace in the midst of the storms.

I once heard the story of a king who had fallen into deep depression. In the midst of his depression, he called in his artist and commanded him to paint him a picture of peace. The artist went out not knowing what to do. He finally painted a beautiful meadow with cows grazing and took it into the king. The king was very angry when he saw the picture and ordered him to paint him another one. He told him that this was his last chance and that he would kill him if it failed to please him.

Distraught, the artist went out and just started to draw long dark lines on the canvas. He drew some ominous storm clouds and then the cleft of a rock. In the cleft he placed a bird with its wings covering it as if it was fast asleep. When the king saw it he was very pleased and smiled, something he had not done in a long while.

The moral of this story is that peace is not necessarily the absence of conflict. It is the resilience that we develop in the midst of what we are going through that will finally see us through, if we do not allow fear to overtake us and if we do not faint. Each one of us will develop this resilience within the context of our own limitations and with the requisite enthusiasm we bring to the task. We do so by the core values we hold, whether spiritual or otherwise.

The sad truth, if we are willing to face it, is that there are too many of us who have been paying tuition in the University of Misery for too long. It is time for us to graduate and take the first steps that will end the storms in our lives and give us the peace for which we search. I invite you to join me on this journey to finding peace in the midst of life’s storms. I frankly do not know where the journey will end for you, but my sincere hope is that it will be a place of contentment and of peace, properly understood. Will you join me?

About the book


Finding Peace in the Midst of Life's Storms, by Raulston Nembhard (209 pages, perfect bound). ISBN-0-9713049-2-0- $10.00, plus $3.50 shipping and handling. (Free shipping and postage for purchases in the United States.) A source of inspiration for those who are struggling with various storms in their lives: financial, addiction, anger, failure and disappointment ,marriage, and death. We can find peace and contentment despite them.

Excerpts:
Addiction: Sometimes it is not so much what the addict should do, but what those who still care about him or her should do. It is the encouragement of a spouse,friend or relative that may finally cause an addict to seek help. Recovery is not a temporary fix, it is a life-long process.
Anger: Much of the pathology that is exhibited in human behavior today stems largely from unresolved hurts and pains that continue to poison the relationships of people in very important ways. In many instances these pains have been resident in people's lives for almost a lifetime.


About the Author

The Rev. Dr. Raulston Nembhard is a priest in the Episcopal Church. He has earned degrees from the University of the West Indies, Yale Divinity School and the Reformed Theological Seminary. He has also a trained Marriage, Couples and Family Therapist and is presently a Registered Intern in the State of Florida and a Supreme Court certified family and county mediator.

He is the author of two other books: You and your Neighbor in a Broken World and Muslim Rage and Christian Arrogance: A Time for Reason, Repentance and Dialogue.

Other Products