Crises are rarely, if ever fun. Crises mean an interruption in our routine…a major change in our lives. A crisis can be from an accident, or an unexpected illness or with a major relationship change. Although a positive change, a crisis can arise from a major promotion or a move. A crisis is anything that challenges the status quo, requiring us to make changes that we may…or may not be happy about making. But crises may also force needed changes.

A Confession

Every permanent, positive change that I recall making in myself has been the result of an unwanted crisis. The death of my first husband brought a lot of grief and depression. It also helped me develop a healthy level of self-sufficiency. Sadly, his death also forced me to learn how to handle the unwanted attention of preditory men.

Being a single mother for thirteen years gave me a choice. I could spend those years waiting for someone to rescue me. Or, I could boldly plan activities with my boys that some women would be too timid to take on…like back-packing in Yosemite Park! We enjoyed many camping trips with family, but others we took on our own. One of my son’s favorite memories is of me building him a rabbit pen for his pet rabbit.

Meeting and marrying Jim Landrum was, at first, an exciting adventure. The joy of it delivered a crisis of learning to get to know new family members, cooking for a larger household, and negotiating fights between our boys. When Jim and I disagreed and then began to fight, another crisis developed. This one was excruciatingly painful…

The Loss of Masks

Many of us wear a mask of some kind. The label of the mask can be invincability, independence, self-sufficiency, handsomeness or beauty…the “organized one,” or the “social butterfly” or, “the one who get’s things done!” When something happens that prevents us from fulfilling our normal role, it is indeed a crisis. When my marriage was in big trouble, my elder son was also in trouble. I began binge eating. I gained weight without any pretense of control. Emotionally this was the most painful time of my life. My mask of being attractive and competent…”I’m fine” was ripped away. It was plain for nearly everyone in the world to see that I was in big trouble! I couldn’t hide my imperfections or failures anymore! Even the death of my first husband could not compare to the pain I felt during this time.

A Blessing in Disguise

The wonderful counselor I found during that nightmare assured me that the day would come when I would be grateful for this crisis. I found it hard to believe. But now I am filled with gratitude for every event that forced me to drop the masks I’d hidden behind all of my life. The result was not being able to pretend anymore. I was forced to really trust God that there was a way through that darkness. This was not just sweet church talk. This was desperation forcing surrender. It was an example of crises that may force needed changes.

When Jim and I were taught respectful ways of communicating and managing our anger, I was willing to drastically change my habits in order to save our marriage. When lessons came about my role in my son’s addiction (codependency), I was willing to gradually let go of trying to control him. The hardest challenge of all was working at forgiving myself for the pain I’d caused in the lives of those I loved.

Fulfillment of Dreams

Little did I know that those crises were the pathway to the fulfillment of my lifelong dreams. I wanted a happy and loving marriage. That joy emerged through the shaddows of that time. I’d always dreamed of writing books to help others have loving relationships. I’ve written eight…so far. I dreamed of having loving, respectful relationships with my children. My children humble me with the love and respect they shower on me! I wanted a life of purpose and significance. Little did I know that the only way it would emerge would be through the darkness of those years of failure and struggle.

Gifts Hiding in Crises

The definition of faith is believing what cannot be seen. During a health, financial or relationship crisis we are in the dark. It’s impossible to see in the dark. Yet that is the exact condition that may be needed in order to motivate us to make permanent, positive changes. A financial crisis may be exactly what you need to take responsible management of your money, or prepare for a better job. A health crisis may be exactly what you need to choose better lifestyle choices, or to research and choose the best health professional. A relationship crisis may break your heart. You may realize later that you were prevented from making a terrible mistake! Or unhappiness in a relationship may motivate you to find help that is outside of your norm. Be aware that these crises may force needed changes.

I hope you are enjoying a peaceful, pleasant season in your life! We all love those times and need to appreciate them! But if you are in crisis, hang on. Surrender to trust that this unwelcome path has the power to lead you to a much better destination that you can imagine right now. You have my love and support,