Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How to Waste a Perfectly Good Crisis

Misunderstood. Alone. 
We're headed off to Palm Springs again in a week.  For those of you who don't know me well, Palm Springs in the summer is my happy place.

This year anticipation of the trip causes reflection because it reminds us of our last family vacation, when we learned Duane's mom had liver cancer. We cut our vacation short, and two weeks later, she died.

That started our year of crises. 
  • I doubted God's provision, so I took every class offered to me. My schedule was crazy as I taught seven different courses at six different schools. 
  • I crashed my car. 
  • Duane and his sisters sold his mom's house.
  • Duane and his sisters distributed the belongings.
  • We held a massive yard sale. 
  • I tore a tendon in my leg and couldn't walk for two weeks. 
In the last two months:
  • Duane experienced chest pain that emulated a heart attack.
  • He had a series of other health issues.
  • Our garage flooded three times.
  • Construction workers opened up walls in all rooms of our house to replace plastic pipes with copper pipes and then closed the pipes. We had open walls and fine layers of dust everywhere.
I think that's all, but maybe not. Who can keep track?

Through it all, we have fought to stay close to God. Overall, we have continued to trust God, but we do have moments when we don't do so well.  Last week, an interpersonal conflict pushed me over the edge. I met a friend for coffee and told her, "I'm done. I just don't want to do this anymore." 

I came home and found a blog from Frank Viola in my in-box.  He wrote:
We all face crises in our lives. They seem to come in seasons.For the Christian, a crisis is a divine opportunity to discover something fresh about our Lord.Unfortunately, many people waste the crises that come into their lives.
His point is that, God wants to birth new things in our lives through the difficulties we experience. The story of Joseph illustrates this principle. James 1 reassures us that if we embrace our trials instead of running away from them, "our faith will blossom under pressure" .  Romans 5 reminds us to celebrate during suffering because through the suffering we will grow in hope and learn to rely on God's goodness and faithfulness.

The thing is, after a season of crisis after crisis, I didn't want to learn anything new. I didn't want to blossom or grow in hope. I felt hurt. And angry. Tired. Misunderstood. Isolated. I didn't want to talk to God. I didn't want to listen to Him. I wanted vindication.

I thought about this as I scanned Viola's short entry. I hadn't even opened my Bible that day. I hadn't prayed.

As I read, I remembered: God is God. He knows me better than I know myself. My heart began to soften. God loves me. I need Him. He will not abandon me. Even if this situation doesn't work out as well as I would like, God is still good. He will take care of me.

There are times when I'm tired, but I don't want to waste a crisis. I want to grow to be the kind of woman God had in mind when he created me.

Here's Viola's advice on how to waste a good crisis.  By the way, he says this is "not recommended."

1. When you are in crisis, don’t make any adjustments to your life.
2. When you are in crisis, forget that God is on the throne and that He is for you.
3. When you are in crisis, give power to the enemy by doubting your Lord.
4. When you are in crisis, forget that “this too shall pass,” live in the moment, and walk by sight rather than 
by faith.
5. When you are in crisis, do not fast, and neglect frequent prayer.

In the days before confessing to my friend that I was "done," I had done several of those things. I had forgotten God was on the throne and that He loved me, He was for me. In my imagination, I magnified the power of humans and doubted the faithfulness of God. I forgot that the situation was temporary and that it would ultimately pass. And finally, at the end, I kept my Bible and my prayer journal closed. 

After I finished reading, I closed my computer, and I prayed. 
This has been a year filled with crises, but it hasn't been a bad year. In fact, it's been a really beautiful year. I am in love with my husband, and my kids, and my friends. I'm grateful for moments of joy and moments of discovery. I've seen extraordinary things this year, things I would never have imagined could happen.

When we slow down, we see God's hand our lives. We see where He has protected us, provided for us, comforted us, guided us. We are not ever alone. We might not have seen those things if it weren't for the crises in our lives.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

This is a beautiful post Erin! Thank you for sharing! I actually shared it with my best friend and think she will love it too! Hugs to you friend!