About a week and a half ago, just after we settled the kids in bed, our phones went off, alerting us to a severe weather warning. We hauled everyone downstairs, settled the kids in a tent-bed in the basement, and settled down for the duration of the storm. It was indeed a violent storm. I have never in my life seen so much and such large hail. Jordan is a storm-watcher, and if given the chance, he would be a storm chaser. He stood at the sliding door that opens up to our sunken patio in our back yard, watching eagerly as the sky turned ominous, the wind easily whipped the long tendrils of our willow tree, and the ground slowly turned white with small piles of hail the size of lemons. I thought to caution him to step back from the window, but decided that it would be futile. So instead, I joined him. He’s a storm chaser. I have no idea how many home owners are having to replace totaled roofs after our brush with wickedly wild weather, but our house suffered extensive damage. In the moment, however, my husband was like a kid on Christmas as our actual kids were oblivious, in dream-land.
A few nights ago, I was stuck in the house alone. Jordan was at work, and the kids were at McDonalds with Grandma. I was sick in bed, watching a medical drama on Netflix, battling with a bit of self-pity after seven hours in the car going back and forth to Kansas City for the second time in about a week.
My body does not travel well, but our only hope of seeing medical providers who have a clue about how to manage my diseases is to travel a significant distance. We had arrived home a few hours earlier, and Jordan took off to make up for some of the work that he had missed shuttling me to the cardiologist who had insisted that I urgently needed to come in.
In the aftermath of my medical storm and frustrating doctors’ appointments, I pleaded with God for some kind, any kind, of break. I wasn’t expecting bad weather that evening. Though it had down-poured all the way to KC and most of the way back, the sky had cleared up as we entered into Wichita. So as I lay in bed, trying to distract from pain, fatigue, and emotional discouragement, I heard the sudden pounding of massive rain drops as they horizontally hit the windows in my bedroom. Both cats on my bed went bonkers as animals usually do right before unusual weather, and I quickly scrambled out of bed to look out the windows. I was greeted by bright sunlight and raindrops the size of half-dollars.
I bolted to the front door, confident that the conditions were ideal for a rainbow sighting. I ran out onto the driveway, scoured the sky in all directions, confident that I would encounter the most brilliant rainbow I had ever seen. The sky was incredible, with visible clusters of dark gray downpours, contrasted against stripes of blue sky, all juxtaposed with golden sunlight reflecting from the west. Sunset was closing in at the time as well. I quickly darted back inside and hustled out the sliding door to our back deck. Sadly, I never did lay eyes on my anticipated rainbow that evening, but somehow, even the experience of the sun bouncing off the mutant raindrops and the anticipation of the rainbow shifted my outlook for the rest of the night.
As I was scrambling after my imaginary rainbow, I stepped outside of myself to become my own observer. I watched this whimsical dreamer desperately grasping at the moment, looking for a sign of hope. In the midst of this self-observation, I heard God whisper gently into my ear, “You, my child, are a rainbow- chaser. Some people are storm chasers, but you are a seeker of rainbows.”
My life has been a life that often demands reframing, and for the most part, I have gotten pretty good at it. In the midst of a violent storm, I’m trying to find the rainbow. As we stumble through obscure, ominous clouds, I am straining my eyes to spot the silver lining. In the deafening silence of grief and loss, I tune my ears to hear the faint melody of God’s comforting voice.
I’m not sure that I could survive without having developed this propensity toward finding drops of joy in the ocean of pain and sorrow. The great thing about the practice of seeking rainbows, songs, and rays of hope is that the more we do it, the more goodness there is to be found.
I’m a rainbow-chaser. And I’m so thankful for it.
That evening, I never laid eyes on a rainbow, but my act of searching led me to a place of beauty, gratitude, and renewed hope.
It may have been simply that God’s naming of me allowed me the opportunity to remember my identity in relation to the God of the universe. That He is close enough to remind me of who I am, and in that moment, He named me His rainbow chaser.
It may have been the beauty in the unlikely place of a rainbow-less sky. My rainbow never showed up, but the beauty of the unexpected downpour meeting the radiance of the sunset was no less glorious.
My life seems to regularly deal out unpredictable, unwanted circumstances. My ideas of how a beautiful life should look rarely line up with my actual story, but oh my goodness, the beauty of my actual real life blows me away.
How in the world is there so much beauty in suffering? I have no idea, but it’s true. The moments of unexpected glory keep coming, and I find myself going from “glory to glory,” in the midst of the unanswered questions, unexpected suffering, and unwanted circumstances.
Gratitude is a practice: a lifestyle that must be cultivated. For some, it may come naturally. For me, I have had to intentionally discipline myself to seek out the beauty in each circumstance, looking for God’s glory in unexpected places. But now, it feels like breathing. I didn’t have to talk myself into jumping out of bed to search for a rainbow. It was nearly as natural as breathing.
Life is beautiful, God is faithful, and rainbows are everywhere if only we have eyes trained to see them.