Crisis affects each of us differently. Some people seem to be unaffected by crisis and continue to move forward, business as usual. Still, others experience grief and are overwhelmed because they are not sure where to begin. There isn’t a “one size fits all” response to crisis and this type of thought usually gets us into trouble. What is defined as a crisis is also different for different people. A crisis could be the loss of a job, loss of shelter, or a decline in health (i.e., physical/emotional). Crisis does not always mean death in a natural sense, but the experience could create the same feelings of mourning and loss as if it had occurred. As much as we want to avoid pain in life, we must learn how to heal from it and help others to find healing as well.
If you are helping someone in a crisis, your goal is to be a support to them. Here are some things to avoid saying/doing:
- “God never puts more on you than you can bear.”
- At that moment, the situation will feel overbearing and this can make a person perceive that God brings painful moments to test their strength. God doesn’t use disasters to bring us closer to Himself. He is concerned about how we feel.
- “There are others who wish they had your problems.”
- I get it. In an attempt to help others to see the light at the end of their situation, we try to deflect their attention from themselves to other people. However, this approach teaches people how to ignore their pain instead of expressing it and growing through it. It is not uncommon for people facing crisis to go from moments of resilience to tears. Instead of judging the level of their experience, simply be there.
- “It’s not so bad. It could be worse!”
- This is another statement that needs to be retired. Again, we cannot determine what another person defines as “bad” or even “worse.” In the moment, someone could feel that their experience is catastrophic and there is no hope in sight. Allowing people to grieve at the moment can be therapeutic because we are acknowledging their right to hurt. It is a human thing to experience pain.
- Do nothing at all.
- This is one that has been painful for me in the past. When people speak, at least they are trying to offer some level of hope (even if it is misguided). However, when people are too afraid to handle your fragility in crisis, it feels isolating. Be willing to ask questions such as, “What can I do for you?” You may need to ask this question over the next few days and/or months before someone responds to your request. This too is a part of the crisis process. Knowing that you can express your needs without judgment or shame.
What can we do to support someone in crisis?
- Ask what they need and meet the need.
- The need could be as simple as just being there. It could also include specific resources (ie: food, clothing, shelter). Allow people to express their needs and then be diligent about meeting the need or connecting them to resources that can help them.
- Be available after the “crisis” has ended.
- Usually, support is available at the very beginning of a crisis, but we become lax when we perceive the person is “good.” We must remember that just because it appears that a person is “okay” they might not be. They will still need levels of support to regain their strength. Periodically check in with the person to find out where they are and if they have any ongoing needs.
- If you do not have the resources, connect them to someone with the capacity to help.
- When I was overcoming a crisis, I had a very good friend that linked me to therapy to address my lingering issues of anxiety. She understood that prayer, though helpful, does not cause our pain to disappear. Her gesture continues to be a loving reminder that the Body of Christ has people who care! You are not meant to take God’s place in crisis. If anything, you are to be a loving reminder of Him as you serve, as you give, and as you support those in crisis. Educate yourself about resources in your city that can provide resources for crisis
Crisis will happen and as the Body of Christ, we must have an answer more significant than ”I’ll pray for you” or “Things will get better.” We are meant to help other people navigate through the times of pain, of sadness, or questions and show them God’s love. How are you prepared to help someone navigate a crisis?
Special Note: I want to extend our love and support to our fellow Texans. The past few days have been challenging for those of you affected by the recent flooding. Not only are our prayers with you, our support and assistance is as well. #TexasStrong