Coping with any type of crisis or loss, whether it involves personal possessions, a job or a family member, can be very stressful and overwhelming. When faced with a loss, crisis or life-changing event, you are suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar world, one that can be frightening and unsettling. And to make matters worse, so many people stand at a distance to watch how you handle what you are going through. Why is it that more people watch than help? This can be quite puzzling, but I’ve come to the conclusion that many watch from a distance because they are not sure what to do or say. So, instead they watch to see if you are able and capable of handling what you are going through.
As much as we want others to take a closer look and help you through tough times, the reality is that YOU must be the one who makes a decision to take a closer look, confront where you are and choose to do something about your situation. We must learn how to respond and react for ourselves. Also we must realize that our reaction directly affects others who are watching, so we always want to present the correct response. Knowing how to make it through the first few days or hours can provide us comfort in the midst of a crisis. We must accept that crises are a normal part of life – some are mild and soon forgotten; others are intense and life-changing. Because they are disruptive, all crises require us to respond and to make decisions. Almost always, there is emotional turmoil with accompanying physical reactions.
When you have a crisis or suffer loss, you probably will notice three phases that you experience:
- First comes shock. You feel stunned, have difficulty believing that the event has really happened, maybe confused about what to do next, and sometimes overwhelmed by emotion.
- Next, there is a phase of initial coping. Depending on the severity of the crisis, this phase may continue for a few weeks, for several months, or longer. The person in crisis struggles to accept and cope with the reality of what has happened. Often there is anxiety, insecurity, insensitivity to others, inefficiency (including a decline of work performance), and all of the emotions that come with grieving. Decision making is important at this time, but difficult. The person in crisis may wonder if he or she will be able to cope, to get beyond the crisis, and ever be happy and fulfilled again.
- Eventually, most people edge into a third phase, adjustment. The reality of the crisis event is eventually accepted emotionally and intellectually, anxiety tends to lessen, new behaviors and ways of living become routine, and the person is able to go on with life.
So, once you get through these initial phases, then what must you do? If you are a Christian, you have the Word of God to stand on. As Believers, we put our hope in Christ. What comfort to know that Christ gives hope and comfort in times of stressful situations. This is not a new strategy. For centuries, people have found help and consolation in the pages of Scripture. It tells is in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness.” AMP And so we benefit from the peace that comes from Christ and from the strength that He gives. Isaiah 43:2 states, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel.” I take great comfort in knowing the God is always with me; even during the most trying times! All we have to do is just rest in HIM; and trust that He will bring us through whatever situations we are faced with.
We also benefit from the warmth and acceptance of fellow believers who show love, and who avoid trying to create answers to difficult “Why?” questions. It’s best and most helpful in the midst of crises, when other people are simply present, available, and praying for you.
When you are able to talk about your feelings, including your confusion and anger, there is less likelihood that trouble-producing bitterness will develop. The pain and memories may never go away, but we can grow through crises and, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, move on with our lives.
As our world continues to experience devastation and destruction – we must all know how to cope and get through tough times. So, next time instead of watching from a distance; whether it’s you or someone else who’s faced with a life challenge or any kind of a loss it is helpful to remember the basics. This is a healthy coping strategy short list that I like to recommend to people to keep them moving during the initial phase of any kind of crisis:
- Process Your Feelings! Take it one hour at a time, one day at a time, if need be one moment at a time.
- Take Care Of Yourself! Get enough sleep or at least enough rest.
- Try and maintain some type of a normal routine as best as possible.
- Remember that regular exercise helps relieve stress and tension.
- Eat a balanced diet. Limit high calorie and junk food. Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid using alcohol, medications or other drugs in excess or to mask the pain.
- Find Support! Talk to others, especially those who have lived through and survived similar experiences. Be with people who comfort, sustain and recharge you.
- Be Patient with Yourself! Give yourself time and permission to heal.
- Find creative ways- journal, paint, photograph, build, draw, spend quality time with family, read, walk or workout- to express intense feelings. I personally found comfort in working during challenging times.
- Remember the coping skills you have used to survive past losses. Draw upon these inner strengths again.
- Seek help if you need to! Don’t be ashamed to see a professional, or speak with your pastor, or a person of wisdom.
- Focus only on what’s important!
- PRAY! And wait to hear from God on what to do!
And remember that TROUBLE doesn’t ever come at a convenient time. It actually tends to come at times of inconvenience – as an interruption; when we least expect it! So, the truth is that as much as we desire for things to be just “right” in life – there will be troubles. I like to say it this way, “Life Happens and when it does, will we be ready?” So, in the midst of your life and your dreams coming to pass…and things being wonderful… LOOK OUT! Trouble may be lurking around the corner. That’s how the enemy works… he’s really a coward, so he has to trip you up so he can try to take you out so you won’t reach your great destiny. He always comes after you when you least expect it – so beware! I learned to rely on knowing that GREATER is the GOD in me, than that joker called the devil. I had to remember that Jesus was my ABSOLUTE source in my weakest state. So, when he trips you up (be aware that he will try and oftentimes succeed), that’s when you must know what to do to get through the tough times; especially when others are watching!
So, from my own experience, I want you to know that the way I made it through was by relying on God. My source of strength and courage came totally from God. It is through taking God’s principles and applying them that we all can, with the help of God, turn things around.
I believe that everything you need is already inside. So, just make a choice to apply God’s word to your situation. Just do it. (That’s a big time quote we all hear used in Nike’s ads); and they are right. But with the greater source – God – nothing is impossible. Jesus said in the Word found in Mark 10:27, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’
People most often don’t rise above life’s challenges, most times because they simply don’t know how to handle the situations they are faced with. And taking the right steps in the right direction when faced with difficulty can be a challenge in itself. However, if a person can learn to follow a process (God’s process) even in the midst of bad times; they can get back to the good times.
You can’t sit back and pretend it doesn’t exist. You have to confront where you are! Especially those of us that profess to be Christians! God’s Word is clear on what we must do! We must Trust HIM to see us through! So when your life seems bent out of shape and it’s crooked, apply Proverbs 3: 5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
So if you’ve faced or are currently facing a crisis of any kind, it is my hope that you will learn, first of all, that even in the midst of what appears to be hopelessness, you can ALWAYS find HOPE! Then, it is my prayer that you learn THE PROCESS of how to walk the path toward totally rebuilding your life; even with others watching. The beauty of it all is that through your life – others will hopefully learn that they too can make it through the challenges of life with God!