A crisis is scary. It’s unpredictable and chaotic. In this article by Dr. Donna Hart, Ph.D., which appeared first here on her website, she lets us understand how a crisis feels, and shares how friends and counselors can help.
A crisis is a crucial and sometimes frightening time in our lives. What has felt safe in the past is now unsafe; what was predictable is all uncertain. We can experience a lot of emotional noise and chaos. We may not be able to think straight; something is wrong and we want someone to help.
We want the noise to stop and the fear to subside. We want to feel safe and able to think.
Someone in Crisis Brings Noise
If a person seeks us out in these alarm moments of their lives they will bring us their noise. They will bring us their anger, sobbing, ranting, terror, panic, fear, and anxiety. We might even become a recipient of their anger and frustration. Pain can also bring silence, for the suffering can be so great there are no words.
When someone brings us their crisis, they will often create one for us as well. Will we allow their crisis to turn us away for our own comfort, or will we be a staying force in their life as Jesus is in ours?
Someone in Crisis Brings Tears
They will bring tears, sometimes wrenching sobs. We can tend to respond by handing out tissues, which can often be a subtle hint that the crying should be over. The noise and impact of the emotion may bother us. When we hear all the noise, our normal response might be to want it to stop. Noise sets off an alarm in our heads that things are not okay and we want to flee.
How can we have staying power in moments like these?
How can we help without adding to the noise and chaos?
People in crisis want change and at the same time fear change. Change requires a lot of effort and they are already tired. When a person in crisis starts to change, others around them don’t like it and will push back creating more crises.
In the same measure a person’s suffering is going to impact us. We cannot let ourselves into someone’s life without being impacted. We will often find ourselves thrown by the magnitude of things humans can do to one another.
Helping Someone Who Hurts
Someone who is in crisis has a hard time holding on to thoughts, so they will forget the things you tell them and you will have to tell them again, and maybe again.
We can speak truth and watch it get devoured by distrust and lies. They learn to trust you and God’s Word with slow repeat, restate, rework, and state again what you thought was clear. It reminds us of how we are with God: we get gospel amnesia also. We are just one suffering sinner walking alongside another suffering sinner. It teaches us to grow in the character quality of patience.
We can think Deuteronomy 6:4-7 only applies to teaching children.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, when you rise.”
I like the word “diligently” in Hebrew; it literally means repeat and repeat.
We learn to wait for the truth to penetrate a confused mind. We will wait while the Spirit of God works internally in a life with no outward sign of growth. And we wait because it is God’s timetable, not ours. He is teaching us about waiting as much as He is teaching the person we are ministering to.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope: my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning (Psalm 130:5-6).