When the T.V. stations were reporting on the devastation of the May 20 tornado in Moore, OK, I was cleaning my house for a Memorial Day BBQ my boyfriend Chris and I were hosting. Each time I wheeled the vacuum past the living room, I stopped to watch the coverage. My heart ached for the victims, and I thought how fortunate I am to live in an area of the country where tornados aren’t a constant threat.
And then I’d flip over to The Weather Channel’s Local On The 8s and be mad that the forecast for the weekend was still showing rain here in Massachusetts. If it rained on my party, that would completely suck.
As each day passed and each item checked off my pre-party to-do list, the weatherperson said rain was still likely. I reminded myself to not worry about the weather by imagining what the people in Oklahoma would think of me if I did. But I secretly hoped Mother Nature would have a change of heart and give me a 70 degree day with blue skies and a warm breeze.
But she didn’t. As guests arrived on the day of the party, it was rainy, breezy and barely 60 degrees. I was doing my darndest to be a good host; I helped guests find what they needed, showed people around our new home, carried food to the tables and visited with as many people as I could. For a moment, the rain cleared up and I let out a sigh of relief: “Good, now they’ll have a good time.” But then the rain started again. Seeing many of our guests rush indoors for cover with their dinner plates was devastating. I walked over to my sister and burst into tears. I know I’m not a failure and the rain was out of my control, but I needed to hear it from her. She reassured me that people were still having a great time, all because of our hard work and hospitality, of which we could control.
But twice more over the next hour I shed a little tear. I had told myself that rain would ruin my party, and I was actually believing that it was.
But then, something miraculous happened. The rain cleared, the sun came out and we had not one but three rainbows that afternoon – one of which was a double! Not only that, guests were able to witness a deer walking across our field, a spectacular orange moon rising into the beautiful starry sky and an unexpected fireworks show from down the road.
Now I was ashamed that the rain bothered me in the first place. In fact, it wasn’t until a week later, while cleaning up the last things from our party, that I realized the rain may have been disappointing but my tears were more a result of me trying so hard to control every factor possible – an impossible feat. And in this realization I learned two incredibly valuable lessons.
1. Lesson learned: There are so many people who love me, not matter what. Friends, family, even neighbors came out to our shindig – despite the rain in the forecast. Nobody really commented on the rain. They did, however, compliment us on a great party, being great hosts, having a great home, and ordering up the spectacular rainbows and gorgeous moon. There were so many people who helped make the party go smoothly. I was shocked to hear the rain didn’t bother them, but that’s what family and friends are for. Being in the company of our favorite people really was the most important part of the day.
2. Lesson learned: don’t waste energy worrying about what you can’t control. I worked so hard to have everything in place for the party and wanted to see my guests comfortable and enjoying themselves. Nobody said they weren’t enjoying themselves, so why did I create that thought in my head? I think this was a result of being a perfectionist, being overwhelmed and worrying about what’s outside of my control. I certainly couldn’t change the weather, but I could control little things: welcoming guests with a smile, having enough food on the table and toilet paper in the bathrooms, and buying tiki torches that I knew would be a hit.
When the rain cleared along with my tears, the day went exactly as I’d imagined. If it meant that I’d learn these very valuable life lessons, it was worth the rain on our BBQ. And tonight, as a thunderstorm roared through our town while we listened to the damage caused by another tornado in El Reno, OK, I said a prayer for those people and thanked the heavens above that I’m safe in my home.