Has your family ever been slammed with a whole lot of difficulties, all at once?
Just when you think things are getting better—maybe even back to normal—some new problem arrives to knock you to your knees.
A few years back, our family experienced a number of negative issues: boom, boom, boom.
- Cancer diagnosis for my father-in-law
- Congestive heart failure for my grandmother
- ACL/meniscus surgery for me
- Cancer diagnosis for my aunt
- There were actually more, but I don’t want to depress you.
Because these adversities flew at our family fast—at least one crisis a month—I named this period, our “Job Season.” Job is the guy in the Bible who lost his livestock, servants, and all of his sons and daughters in a brief stretch of time. Thanks to the devil. When sadness and woe started hitting our family fan, that’s who I felt like: Job.
If only I knew then what I know now. Since that Job Season 15 years ago, I’ve gleaned several crisis management techniques from a number of places: podcasts, blogs, conversations with friends. The Bible.
For your benefit, here are my top tips for what to do when your life seems to fall apart.
Remember, “This too shall pass.”
People quote this saying like it’s in the Bible, but it’s not. I checked. Still, the thought is good. Most negative situations have a beginning and an end. Thank goodness for the end, right?
Chances are, when the crisis is behind you, you’ll be a better person.
This idea actually is in the Bible. James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
While I’m all for perseverance, maturity, and completeness, I would add that surviving a sucky situation also makes you stronger. I know I felt stronger as a result of our family’s Job Season.
Don’t frame your fiasco as a failure. Frame it as an opportunity.
A few years back, our one daughter wanted very much to get into a specific type of PhD program. Though she was accepted into five master’s programs, that wasn’t what she wanted. As a result, she was very disappointed.
Thankfully I had the presence of mind to suggest she see the situation as an opportunity, not a crash-and-burn. “Carpe diem!” I chirped. “Be a nanny in another country. Backpack through Europe!”
She followed my advice and spent three months touring Europe, then three months in Peru teaching English. What a fantastic experience!
Ask yourself, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”
Remember the ACL/meniscus surgery mentioned above? That resulted from being thrown from a friend’s horse. Moments after my fall, as I lay in the grass gazing up at a perfect spring sky, I wondered, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”
Because people brought us meals for weeks, I realized how very much we are loved, especially by our church family.
During my convalescence, when I was unable to do what I usually do—cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, banking, running the kids everywhere—it made me realize how important my role as a mother is.
Though life seems hard now, know that something good will come out of this situation.
This is actually a Biblical promise. Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you know that my mother passed away last year. Last summer was really hard as her health failed. And yet, by supporting Mom through her hardest season, my heart toward her was totally changed. Remember the Grinch’s heart growing? Yeah, it was like that. Though those weeks were incredibly difficult, I’m so thankful for what they brought about.
When the going gets rough, remind yourself of past successes.
Not only was last summer tough, but last fall was as well. Due to a falling-out with a loved one, I found myself super sad. Angry too. When I realized, “I’ve survived a lot harder situations than this argument,” my mother’s recent death for instance, my mood immediately lifted.
Keep the end in mind.
Consider two examples.
Pregnancy. I do not like being pregnant because typically I’m nauseated for at least five months in a row. Feeling puny on pregnancy number one really bummed me out. However, it was much less of a problem on my two subsequent pregnancies because I had firsthand experience with what comes at the end of pregnancy: a baby!
High school, college, medical school, etc.. For a lot of people, schooling can be grueling. Once you’re done, though, you begin to reap the benefits: a job, a paycheck, your parents’ pride, etc..
It may feel like you’re the only one experiencing pain, but actually, you’re not alone.
Sooner or later, we all struggle. The Bible—specifically, Jesus—guarantees it. He’s the one who said, “In this world you will have trouble.”
The cool thing is, if you’re a person of faith, Jesus promised his forever presence when he said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Recall Brene Brown’s counsel on how to stay calm.
If you read my blog post on the traits of wholehearted people a few weeks back, you know that calm people have an advantage over the rest of us because their behavior includes:
- Taking time to breathe deeply—often for a minute or longer—when a potential crisis arises.
- Gathering data. Calm people ask questions.
- Deciding whether or not to freak out.
- Asking the question, “Will freaking out help the situation?”
In the face of adversity, ask yourself, “What does this make possible?”
On his podcast several years ago, Michael Hyatt told the story of falling down steps and breaking his ankle. As a result, he had to stay home from work (as Vice President of Thomas Nelson Publishing, I think) for several weeks. During that time, he started blogging. He kept at it for years and eventually walked away from the corporate world and started his own very successful business.
Along those lines, a very cool thing happened as a result of my ACL surgery. A neighbor woman brought me a grocery bag full of about 20 books. Though I love to read, as a wife and busy mother of three, I had no time to read. Because I was bed-bound for weeks, I made it through every book she loaned me. What a gift that was!
When life gets hard, ask for prayer.
Because I’ve had prayers of all sizes answered time and time again, I believe asking for prayer is the very best thing you can do when times get hard. Sometimes I text my prayer requests, sometimes I email them. You can even go big with your prayer requests by posting them on social media. I’m pretty sure most believers who encounter a prayer request send one up within 60 seconds.
As James in the Bible says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
What about you? What are your tricks for crisis management?