Metal Roofs and Hearts Leak and It’s Okay
It Doesn’t Mean You’re Broken
We live in a Texas farmhouse with a metal roof. The roof is made for life and is in great shape but sometimes, when it rains crazy hard, the roof will leak in random places. That used to freak me out and cause me to envision pots and pans scattered about my house filling up with rainwater and me spending my days emptying them and checking for new holes. From there it was a slippery slope to my house looking like the Beverly Hillbilly’s home before they struck black gold and me puttering through the house in a gingham apron with my hair in a bun like Ma Kettle.
Having moved from the Midwest where metal roofs are not a thing, and a leak in the roof is a really big thing, I didn’t understand why my metal roof was leaking. After the first discovery of a few drops in the great room, I ran to check that spot the next time it rained but nothing was there. I shrugged and forgot about leaking roofs until the raindrops came through a spot in the kitchen above the cabinets, once, then never again. The latest leak was in the bedroom next to my bed. Like the others, it wasn’t much and a small hand towel caught the drips until they subsided.
Relieved though I am, that none of these spots ever leaked more than once, I’m a bit baffled as to why. If the roof were compromised in any way in one spot, wouldn’t that area always leak? But I’ve learned some things about Texas rainstorms and life since we moved here.
Maybe this explains a lot or maybe it just explains that we can’t predict much about life and a few leaks are nothing to worry about.
Texas rain is like everything else in Texas: it’s bigger. That saying isn’t just a saying, it’s a truth. Storms here come in big, hard, and fast. There is no such thing as a gentle rain in Texas that refreshes the trees and waters the garden. It pours. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, it still pours. Rain in central Texas comes in two sizes: buckets and none. And with rain comes the wind, all the time in all directions. And hail, and you guessed it, big hail. One woman I know hid under the bed with her son as hail the size of soccer balls fell through her roof and destroyed her house. Ok, just trust me, it’s bigger here in Texas!
You can’t predict or prepare for these storms, you just ride them out, sometimes in the bathroom with your dogs and a flashlight. Anything under a covered porch will still get wet because sometimes it rains horizontally. The last storm I watched from my cozy, dry great room whipped trees to and fro. The peach tree looked like it was doing a hula dance. Which way was that wind blowing? Every which way, it seemed.
Spring brings the most rain with the most unpredictable storms. Last week’s storm dropped five inches of rain in one hour and 250 lightning strikes in 10 minutes. That’s when the rain leaked into my bedroom. There’s only so much even the toughest roof can handle before the onslaught finds a weakness or a tiny crack to assault. And so it is with life. Even at my strongest and healthiest rain gets in. A virus sneaks in and I’m waylaid for a few days. An offense works its way through and I’ve got a puddle of pain in my heart. An unexpected tragedy weaves its way to a fault line in my faith and I start doubting God’s best for my life.
We’re all trying to hold down the fort, stay dry and safe amidst an unpredictable and sometimes violent world.
Life leaks a little.
The storms are going to keep coming and they’ll find your weaknesses. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or need replacement parts or that you’re somehow more defective than others, it just makes you human.
When my son was born with chronic liver disease, life found a lot of places to leak — mostly from my heart. His first time out for a family gathering at almost nine weeks old, he was skinny, slightly jaundice, and recovering from major surgery. None of us had slept much since his birth and we had been through a harrowing whirlwind of tests, surgeries, hospital stays, doctor visits, and bad news. I was prime for a leak!
When my sister-in-law showed up with her pink, chubby, healthy baby born around the same time as Ryan, I burst into tears. Awkward at a party, it was as unwelcome as a leak in the roof during a rainstorm. The pressure was too much, it needed to be released somewhere. Of course, I worried this leak meant I was falling apart and would soon need major repair work. What it meant was life was drenching me at the moment and I had cracks. Stress weakens us and life leaks in. Fear sneaks in when you least expect it. Doubt creeps through and finds you unexpectedly unaware. Shame has a special way of popping right through our tough exterior and regret pokes holes into our peaceful present.
“I never wanted this house,” I screamed as I threw my cell phone across the driveway. Burdened with a debt we couldn’t unload, regret and shame were creating fracture lines all over my life. My marriage weakened, my faith blew out the door, and life felt like the entire house was crumbling all around me. This was a monumental storm, a once in a lifetime perfect storm, like Hurricane Harvey that hit the Houston coastline in 2017, causing flooding and loss of life in record making proportions.
I leaked a lot in those days. I found my walk-in closet was the perfect place to cry because no one would hear me and I could avoid embarrassment at how much I was leaking. I walked out of church messages that touched on money because I wanted more than anything to be a “good steward” of our money but the circumstances we found ourselves in were out of our control. I became brittle and hyper-focused on money as if I could save our family from financial ruin. Brittle is easily cracked and cracks allow for leaks.
Fear, insecurity, and anxiety leaked in until I was unable to sleep through the night without dreaming that someone was standing over my bed removing the rings from my fingers. Symbolically, I suppose that meant I was afraid of losing it all, or what was precious to me, or that even my marriage was under attack. We recovered from our financial crisis without losing our house or credit rating. We leaked some, it’s true, but our marriage held and we learned to do some repair work.
We survived that storm and years later as we sat hunkered down more than 200 miles away from the center of Hurricane Harvey, 15 inches of rain and dangerously strong winds pounded against our little farmhouse. The roof leaked but it held and I was proud instead of worried. It weathered that storm and kept us dry. Jesus reminds us, in Matthew 7, that storms will come, the rains will beat down, but we can find solid footing in our faith in him.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (NIV)
You’ve heard the saying, sometimes He calms the storms and sometimes He calms us in the midst of the storm. Don’t be surprised or dismayed when life breaks through and you leak a little. Don’t hide your tears in shame. Why should you? Don’t keep anger and doubt in tight little corners of your heart where it will rot and fester. Be honest and face what’s hurting you. Humans, like metal roofs in Texas, leak a little. Wipe up, face the storm, and rest assured, it will move on. Nothing lasts forever in life except what we carry in our hearts.