By Chloe McLaughlin
Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2012
As human beings we are often left asking the question: “Now what?”
“My home work is done.” (Haha, yeah right) “Now what?”
“I graduated from high school.” “Now what?”
“I dropped my earring in the drain.” “Now what?”
Well, some of those “Now Whats” are easier to answer than others. Done with your homework? Start tomorrow’s homework, or go to bed. (I always advocate for the nap!) You’re a high school graduate? Awesome, now its time for college or a job. You dropped your earring in a drain? Find a new earring, because that one is GONE. But how do we answer the more difficult questions?
“My house burned down.” “Now what?”
“My mom has cancer.” “Now what?”
This week, I found myself asking again, “Now What?,” as I watched hurricane Sandy barrel across the Eastern Coast. I sat in my cozy dorm room in inland Indiana looking at the pictures of devastation and flooding. They left me wanting to do something, but all I could do was ask “now what?”
I felt like there was so little I could do, and for the time being, that might be true. There isn’t much we can do, because the wind is still blowing and the power is still out all over the Eastern states, but helplessness never lasts forever.
Every time I think about hurricanes, I remember Hurricane Katrina and the mission trip I took to Waveland, Mississippi in 2008. We went to answer the question “Now what?” Then our answer was, “Now, we serve.” For ten days in the heat of late June, my youth group hung dry wall, put in insulation, painted, and built stairs and hand railings.
That trip has stuck with me strongly, because we finished one of the houses we were assigned to. We put up the last pieces of shelving and were present when the electric company came and turned on the family’s electricity. We watched a mom and her 4 year old daughter run through their newly finished house turning on all of the lights and faucets. The little girl hugged each one of us and screamed with delight. She probably never remembered spending the night in the house that was destroyed by Katrina, so the place she was standing in was the first Home she had ever known.
Every time I think about that trip, I see that little girl’s face. I can think of no better answer to the question “Now what?” Her face said it all. We could not have found a better way to react to Katrina than by helping to put that look on that 4 year old’s face.
So how do we react now? Now what? Hurricane Sandy is not the first hurricane, and we can be certain it won’t be the last. The feeling of helplessness will soon evaporate with the rain and we will be left with the question to answer. These questions are hard to swallow, and even harder to answer, but sometimes the answers will change our lives.
“Now What” questions are chances for leadership and service. With every hard question comes an answer with great rewards. Even if you really cannot do anything about Hurricane Sandy, or an illness in your family, or a tragedy in your own life, you will soon have the opportunity to grow and help others to grow with you. Use those hard questions. Become a servant leader. Your answers might change your life, or the life of someone unexpected.
So, you’ve read this blog, Now What?
Chloe McLaughlin is a college freshman at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana majoring in Church Music and Christian Worship. Originally from Frankfort, Indiana, Chloe was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2012. Learn more about Chloe here!