Unfortunately, sudden crises or unexpected traumas are a part of life. A child needs medical attention. A friend wants extra support. Your finances require retuning. Clutter becomes an unwanted guest. The car falls apart at an intersection. Death comes knocking and decisions need to be made.
So, what do you do when life throws a significant, unwanted curve ball?
What if you try to open a door, and it comes right off the wall?
In that moment, do you panic? Do you know how to get immediate resources and parse through key decisions?
I confess, this is an area I wish I wasn’t the expert to go to. I still want to be the Disney Princess Expert or Chef With Intrigue or something more fun. Yet, after surviving many large crises over several years, we’ve garnered a few key lessons I can pass along so your path can be shorter through the darkness and stability can become your friend once more.
It’s okay to be in survival mode, for however long it takes. When the difficulties come, it’s helpful to switch to the practical, get-through-it side of things if you can. If not, enlist a trusted friend or advocate that can do it for you. You need a clear understanding of the immediate challenge, factors you can affect and make decisions about, and what can be put off until after the shock wears off. It’s best not to make key decisions about things like living arrangements, cars, and even hairstyles when you’re in a vice-press situation. Only handle the immediate, the rest can wait.
Waiting doesn’t equal a lack of processing. Once you’re through the emergency side of a jarring event, then it’s time to process feelings. I’m a big advocate of trying to deal with part of it each day to avoid a backlog. They will come out one way or another. But if you need to wait a bit first, that’s alright too. My most vivid example is the day our home burned to the ground. My wonderful mother was visiting us, and it took several hours to escape the fire threats in the area (1 million people were evacuated due to five fires that joined together in Southern California). She kept encouraging me to keep driving, and save the tears for later. Definitely the right thing when you’ve got flames in the rear-view mirror. But later, the tears came as we saw our home on Fox News and other stations.
Don’t let others dictate your grief. It’s important to communicate clearly with loved ones about how you process things so they know how to help and what to expect. For example, after the fires I visited a support group for fire victims. There was a loud lady who wanted everyone to just be tough and not show emotions. Kind of impossible for some people that spent the night in a stream or river to escape! Our family has definitely decided not to remain in “victim” mode, but we were also intentional about processing things, knowing that the only real relief comes in surrendering it all to the One above.
Don’t expect others to understand unless they’ve been right in your situation. This is probably the most helpful tip to avoid hurt feelings when things are intense. Just be grateful for anyone who can “go there” and walk with you through the pain. Try not to judge others that use platitudes or disappear when things get rough. You never know what triggers they have in their own lives.
Finally, remember this is a season. It may feel like all of your existence and certainly may take over, but even if it requires permanent change, the challenge thrust upon you can reform and remake you into something more beautiful from the inside out. Like a master carver chiseling at marble to make something lasting, let the lessons come. Find tremendous resources in faith, hope, and safe friendships where you can be your true self. When you uncover those, treat them like the golden opportunity they truly are.
My hope is you find lasting connections that don’t come apart when things pull you in different directions. That you are rooted and grounded in people and activities that bring deeper meaning to every day. Gifts come disguised in many unruly packages. Let the Father breathe into your pain, heal your wounds, bind up your weaknesses, and help direct you toward His home. His door is just right, it never gets rusty, and is always open so He can work on your behalf.
Was this encouraging? Please share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.