Archives For Encouragement
This is the 2nd of a two-part post from a talk I gave recently on dealing with crises in our lives. Some of this I’ve learned by doing things well. And some of it I’ve learned by doing it oh-so-poorly. Nonetheless, here a few more insider tips on what to do when YOU are facing a personal crisis:
- Extend grace – to yourself, and to others. Thank God daily for 1 thing. First and foremost, we’ve got to remember we are all human and that there is no way we can do life perfectly. There are definitely days when I feel like the “Mayor of Schmuckville” who can’t do anything right. But there are also days when I choose to remember that I am loved deeply by the Creator of the Universe! In our house, we nightly ask each other, “How did God bless you today?” Some days were so hard when my girls were very young that the only thing I could think of was, “I have indoor plumbing!” After about a year of this, we also started asking each other, “How did you bless God today?” Even our younger children have appreciated this question and they’ll ask each other, “How did you make God smile?”
- Get a massage … or at a minimum, a mani-pedi. Maybe you can’t afford a massage, but most everyone reading this can afford a $6 bottle of nail polish. Do something for yourself that involves some endorphin-releasing touch. Give and receive hugs (with your hubby or other women) generously!
- Stay connected with friends (especially coffee, breakfast and lunch dates). I have nothing against Girls Night Out (GNO) events, but in the middle of a crisis, it’s awfully hard to fake happy. Spend time with women who are close to you, particularly in settings where you can talk about deeper issues, and maintain eye-to-eye contact. The added truth to this is to establish and foster those friendships when you are not in crisis mode.
- Avoid alcohol and sleep aids, unless a doctor prescribes it. This sort of goes without saying, but it’s a good reminder to completely avoid anything that could lead to addictive behavior, and was sage advice to a sister going thru the early stages of a divorce she didn’t want. Be sure to watch your diet and exercise as well.
- Watch your pace! Feel free to say no to an awful lot of good, in order to receive God’s BEST for your life. I need this advice as much as the next woman. But it’s so true.
At the end of the day, we need to keep Matthew 7:24-27 in mind and build our house upon God’s word in order to withstand the storms of life. Any more suggestions? I’d love to hear ‘em!
When speaking to a group of young moms recently on “The Challenges of Life,” I offered a Top Ten List for what to do when we are facing a personal crisis. Sadly, I’ve seen far too many ministry leaders become largely ineffective in their spheres of influence (family, work, organizationally, etc.) because they didn’t take the time to properly self-nurture and cope.
This topic is very dear to my heart. Having actually gone through a few major doozies like unemployment, the sudden passing of my mother-in-law, post-partum depression, and a couple of major surgeries for cancer, these are a few of the tips I’ve gleaned through the years:
- Stay connected to a solid, grace-filled church – Go where you GROW. It grieves my heart to think of churches who have done this wrong through fundamentalist jargon and legalism. Or, maybe they have an overabundance of grace, and therefore lay leaders who simply aren’t on sturdy theological footing to balance grace with TRUTH. Indeed, we’ve got to be mindful of our own need for self-nurturing, and seek out a body of believers who can support us in life’s most difficult days. I realize that not every part of the world has this available, so if that’s your situation, prayerfully consider joining an online church community like Gateway Church in Austin, Texas. (Shameless plug for my sister, who leads worship there! But truly, Vince Marotte & his Internet team do an excellent job.)
- Journal your thoughts and prayers. It serves as a reminder and testimony! When millions of Israelites miraculously crossed the the dried-up riverbed of the Jordan River into the promise land, as told in Joshua 4:2-9, God told them to gather stones that would serve as a reminder of God’s faithfulness. My 20+ years of journals are my memory stones! Having said that, please don’t worry about trying to journal daily or before 6 a.m. or only writing volumes upon volumes. Keep it regular, heart-felt, and keep it simple. You can even keep it on your computer (though I definitely suggest regular print-outs and external hard-drive storage!)
- Listen exclusively to encouraging Christian music – whatever style you prefer – for a month. This advice was first given to me as a young believer. Listen to only positive Christian music for 30 days, and see if that doesn’t “rock” your world! iTunes, Spotify, streaming online, mix CDs in your car, etc. Bust ‘em out. (Likewise, I’ve also sent mix CDs to friends going through crises of their own.)
- Avoid the late-night news until quarter-past the hour (just catch the weather and sports). Studies have shown that people who watch the late-night TV are more depressed, and who wouldn’t be? Get your major news through other sources (print, radio or online), and leave the stories of burglaries, murders, and tragic accidents to those who can expertly help them. You need good sleep to process and grieve the loss of relationships and dreams, so do whatever it takes to guard your sleep and put positive thoughts in your brain before you sleep.
- Have a media fast. Focus on prayer. I did a Chip Ingram R12 study last year where he highly encouraged this for three days. And to be honest, I was rather amazed how much it impacted me because I’ve taken my own advice, above re: news and music, for years! But let me tell you, it was extremely refreshing. Even just driving down the road when I’d typically turn on a Christian radio talk show, I resisted that urge and took my thoughts – and ultimately, prayers – to God directly in that moment. Chip’s advice is to alert close friends and family you’re on a mini hiatus, and then stay away from the Internet and only check e-mail for work a few times a day.
These are just a few of the things I’ve done through the years to help me keep treading water and avoid being drowned out by the difficulties of this life. Later, we’ll look at the rest of the suggestions.
How do you cope in a crisis? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section.
Editor’s Note: Part 2 of this discussion can be found, here.
After speaking to our moms group at church on the “Challenges of Life,” I thought I would post a few of the practical suggestions I shared on how to help a friend or family member facing a crisis situation. My definition of crisis is fairly broad, but basically it entails a situation where you require acute, urgent care for spiritual, emotional, mental or physical issues.
To broaden the spectrum of advice, I also opened the question up to a few Facebook groups, so have given credit to those specific women as well. Much of this advice has been gleaned in the trenches, though … where I was facing everything from multiple surgeries, to thyroid cancer, to corporate layoffs … to helping women when a marriage crumbled or an addiction was overtaking their family.
I pray that you are blessed as you seek to be a blessing to others!
When you’re helping a friend face a personal crisis … here’s what NOT to do:
• Don’t offer to do something you truly would never want to do, or feel guilted into doing. Offer help from your areas of strength and passion.
• Don’t use scripture clichés. Try to not give any kind of advice initially. The time for that will come when she can actually hear your wise words.
• Don’t ask, “Can I do anything?” Be specific about what you’d be willing to do, OR pray for someone else to do. Ask if you can bring dinner, pick up a child, buy groceries, run your vacuum on her floor. (from Kelly Combs)
• Don’t say, “I know exactly how you feel.” … unless you’re a Siamese twin! (from Laurie Wallin)
• Don’t avoid contact (phone, e-mail, text, FB, etc.) just because you don’t know what to say. It’s perfectly okay to say, “I’m so sorry about what happened. I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” Be a good listener.
• Don’t take life too seriously. Humor can relieve tension, too!
• Avoid “Shoulda-ing” all over them, OR yourself. We’re only human! (Leslie Rose & I both had this on our list!) Leslie added that unrequested advice “often brings shame … so your advice doesn’t help. Instead, couch your ‘advice’ in ‘I’ statements.” Something to the effect of “I went through something similar and what helped me was …” and so on.
• Avoid asking closed-ended questions. (e.g., “So you’re OK now, right?”) How is she supposed to answer that? Yes/no questions don’t really help her share her heart.
• Don’t be just a “peacekeeper” who strictly avoids conflict. Pray for wisdom. Be willing to be a “peace-maker” and risk short-term relational pain for long-term healing and gain.
• Don’t think that you can meet all her needs, and don’t feel badly when you don’t. Everyone has gifts to share and a person in crisis needs gifts from a lot of different people. (From Shona Neff)
• Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to speak honestly. Don’t be afraid to risk the friendship to save the friend. (From Ellen Stevens)
Have you benefited from friends helping you before? Anything you wish they would have done differently? I’d love to hear your feedback!