Letting My Worries Blow Away

Kayli Hamilton
Picture a 16-year-old girl stressing about buying Christmas gifts for her loved ones, the upcoming ACT, and a ballet recital. That girl is me. In early December 2021, I was studying for my ACT and a Psychology mid-term. I was stressing if I was going to get everyone a gift in time for Christmas and whether or not they would like it. I was also worried about my Christmas ballet recital where I was the lead. But soon, that would all change.

On December 10th I was at home with my family hanging out. I was nervous because the next morning I would take the ACT for the first time. My mom sat me and my sister down and said that tonight was a weather-aware night, and we need to go through the tornado drill: get helmets out of the shed, get water and snacks, and put them all in the basement under the stairs. I wasn’t worried though, we had weather-aware nights all the time and a small little tornado isn’t uncommon. Me and my family were sitting on the couch watching Spider-Man when my mom came in and said, “It’s go time.”

This was it, but at this point, I wasn’t scared yet. My mom had been watching the radar for a while now seeing if we would have to take shelter in the basement. She said there was a tornado on the ground heading our way. Me and my dad were looking where the radar said the tornado was and that’s when we realized it was hitting the house of our friends. It was right on top of them. That’s when the fear really set in for me. We all rushed to get into the basement. Once we got down in the basement my dad gathered us around and said that he got in contact with our friends and their house was hit, and there is a lot of damage. Then, we prayed for them.

The night did not end there. By the grace of God, the tornado missed our house by a couple of blocks. But we were worried sick for our friends and family. The phone signal was going in and out because of the storm and we were trying to make sure everyone we knew was safe. Both of my parents went out right after the tornado hit our town to make sure our loved ones were safe. They both helped people get to safety and then returned home. I didn’t fall asleep till way past midnight because I was so anxious.

The next morning I was eager to get out of the house and help. I felt useless sitting at home. My dad told us how Catalyst, our church, was starting to be a hub for volunteers. Me and my sisters wanted to go so bad. Our mom finally let us go after what felt like forever.

When we got there it took me a second to get my bearings. It was a madhouse. I saw someone I knew that I haven’t seen in a while working on preparing hot food for people that came in. So I said hi and asked how I could help. We prepared hot food for people that came in hungry. We also directed people that came in the front door, telling them where to take donations or where we could use a helping hand. I got into the groove of the job real quick.

That day I got very inspired. I met so many people from tons of states that just jumped in the car to come help. I met a teacher from Missouri that would praise God in every moment possible. I met a sweet couple from Ohio. There was also a man that was on vacation that jumped in his car and came down as soon as he heard the news. The people in charge of Catalyst were getting calls after calls about how people all over America were sending semi-trucks full of supplies for us to use and give out. It was incredible how after only a couple of hours people stepped into action.

My simple world of me and my worries changed in an instant. Now all I wanted to do was help where I could. The experience changed me in many ways. I am a very emotional person, to begin with, but the tornado and all the hurt I was around really stuck with me. Every night I would come home after serving at Catalyst and just weep. But it also made me inspired and glad. Glad that I have such a strong and supportive church family. Glad I have such supporting friends and loved ones. I was also inspired. Inspired by the presence of God all around us while amidst the chaos and pain. Inspired by the number of people who wanted to help.

The whole experience was also a good smack in the face for my own faith. I am saved, and I have been for going on 5 years now. But I have a really hard time accepting the fact that I can’t do it alone. This whole experience, even though it brought a lot of pain, opened my eyes. I can’t do it alone. I have no control. But, God does. This time showed me that I need to give up this idea that I have the power because, in reality, I don’t.

It also showed me how important my relationship with the Lord is. Before the tornado, my mindset was very clouded. I would always put off my relationship with the Father. I never would say it out loud, but I was waiting to dive into a deeper relationship with God until my life felt more secure. I thought that after finishing high school, or after getting a job, maybe even after starting a family, then I would stop and have a deeper relationship with the Lord. But the thing that I need to understand is that those things will NEVER give me security, but He will.

1st Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” This is such a powerful verse in the Bible, but I often overlook it. I read it and go, “Aww so cute,” but I don’t truly believe anyone would look towards me as an example. But during my time serving Catalyst, this verse shined through. For the first time in a while, I had adults, kids, and even other teenagers looking towards me for guidance. This showed me that even if I am not preaching on Sunday morning, even if I’m not leading a bible study; my faith matters.

At the start of this, I discussed how I was stressing over various things. But after the tornado, I learned spending all my time worrying over it did nothing. I was still able to give everyone their gifts on Christmas and they all loved them. I danced in the recital and did well. I got an A on my Psychology mid-term. I even survived my first time taking the ACT, even though it got canceled and I had to take it two months later than planned. It’s weird to think that something like a historic tornado can teach me NOT to worry. Don’t get me wrong though, I now have a panic attack when the wind blows or I hear a weird noise outside my window, but on the contrary, I have also learned to let a lot of things that used to worry me go.

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