Forced to Flee: Life as Environmental Refugees

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. -Isaiah‬ ‭40‬:‭29‬-‭31‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Last week, my husband and I streamed the movie, The Swimmers on Netflix, about two young female swimmers who flee violence in Syria, we couldn’t help but liken our situation to theirs. While we are not experiencing physical violence in our country, our bodies are being assaulted by toxins in our environment, making us very ill. My husband commented that we aren’t much different than the refugees in the movie. And it’s true. We are environmental refugees, as someone recently put it. Finding a safe place for us to settle has been extremely difficult. We’ve been navigating our way through unsafe and unhealthy territory in several states for the past five years, and I’m tired.

Like the long, arduous trek refugees must make, we too, have had an arduous journey. And, if I’m being honest, last week, I had one of those days where I wanted to give up. I woke up feeling like “death”. It’s the only way I can describe it. Waking up feeling terrible is not uncommon for me, my husband, and our youngest daughter. That particular day, though, was especially trying. My strength to endure was tapped. My body felt like it was encased in cement. The fatigue was unbearable and I was in tears. I didn’t have the fight in me. My Father did, though.

It’s those times where I send this prayer up to God, “I need you to fight for me. I’ve got nothing left.” And I trust He will give me the strength to take the next step. He always does. This is where I’m learning to walk in His strength.

As for the day, it got better. Slowly my energy increased, and my best childhood friend blessed me with some encouraging words that uplifted me. She reminded me how much I’m needed and cared for. And a decision was made, even though we have yet to come up with a promising place.

Although our living situation is what it is for the time being and we have yet another unknown move ahead of us very soon, I know God is always right here with us in the muck of it all. As for what lies ahead, we don’t know, other than we are on the search once again for cleaner air that we can better tolerate. In the meantime, I will work on remaining present, in His presence, and not stressing about the future. And when I need God’s help, I will ask for it, trusting that He’s got us. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

After I finished writing this, I opened this news article confirming what we already knew. How timely, I thought. It’s unfortunate our world has become a toxic soup that some can’t afford to live in. We pay a costly price with our health, yet still find it extremely challenging to gain relief.

The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. -Exodus‬ ‭15‬:‭2‬ ‭NRSV‬‬

5 thoughts on “Forced to Flee: Life as Environmental Refugees

  1. So sorry for your struggles.

    I think many of us are escaping something, even if it just a memory.

    I’ve recently been reminded of the need for me to only face one day at a time – because one day has enough trouble to face, with Jesus.

    When I don’t my heart palpitations do seem to get worse, although my heart medication, I’ve now read, can cause palpitations too…worry, anxiety, medication? Probably a mix of all those things.

    Physically escaping is very hard though, whether from bad situations or bad air – we’ve done that in the past (bad people) and it’s especially tiring on the mind and soul when all you want to do is rest.

    Keep taking small steps…knowing that God has got you all!

    I don’t do platitudes – I just know that to be true from our own life, although the evidence can take a while to see, until you can look back far enough to see God’s hand directing your steps.

    Andy B

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, Andy. Yes. So many people are struggling right now. And yes, one day at a time with God is the only way! Thank you for your encouragement! Hoping you got some rest in on your holiday and have a blessed day tomorrow!

      Liked by 1 person

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