On November 5, 2011, I wrote the following:
I’ve seen people, at their lowest times in life, pealing their miserable skeletons from the ground, putting their skin back on, and starting over at nothing. In their times of need, they did not moan and complain. They never publicly asked, “Why me?” They do not blamed others for their own plight. Though none asked for the storm, they stood in its path. Though no one invited an EF-5 into their living rooms, they accepted the visitor and are still cleaning up after it. They are too proud to accept pity, too humble to take credit, and too strong to give excuses.
The tornado, five years ago, changed the way the world looks at Joplin, Missouri, but we probably should look at ourselves through the prism of time and space. In many ways, in the months after the tornado, our nation's eyes were turned toward Joplin. It was necessary, at the time, and resulted in much-needed help and contributions being sent to help us.
We must not, however, seek the world's attention again today; we don't need it. Five years later, reaching out for that attention would not be for help in our time of need, but could result in a sort of bragging. We are proud of our own response to the storm. That pride should be evident in my Facebook post (above); it might also be seen in another post I made on the following day:
I've witnessed weak people who made strong by adversity, broken people made beautiful through tribulation, and defeated people made victorious in disaster. They remove themselves from the ruins, cast off the cocoon of catastrophe, and walk willingly through the debris with their heads held high. Defeat is not an option.
It might seem strange that we feel pride during such a time, but we do. The danger comes when we allow that pride to become self-serving or when we brag about ourselves to others
The media may refocus some of its attention on Joplin, today, but for the most part they have moved to new subjects in different locations. Much has happened in the world in the last five years. Let us not be so self-centered that we demand cameras to pan in our direction. Let us humbly accept that we did not do the things we did for the attention and limelight of cameras, microphones, and printing presses; instead, we did what we needed to do, because our neighbors needed us to.
Whisper, even when you have run out of breath. Pray, even when you have no words. Rejoice, even when you have been knocked off your feet. Hope, even when you have lost all you own. Reach, even when your arms are heavy. Serve, even in your own time of need.
When you are knocked down, climb. When you are over your head, swim. When you are beaten, fight. When you are silenced, speak. When you are crippled, fly!