Crisis is painful, frightening, and difficult. None of us consciously invite crisis into our lives. We do not look forward to the next life threatening event to come our way. We have never received an invitation to celebrate a crisis in the life of one of our friends. The news of a crisis brings feelings of sadness, fear, and regret. No one wants to face death, financial ruin, loss of a job, or a divorce. We do not wish these events on others. So, how is it that I can tell you, who are in crisis, that your situation is the adventure of a lifetime?
Ji has a range of meanings in Chinese including opportunity but also crisis.
I have had the opportunity to walk side by side with many people as they charted the troubled waters of crisis. As a therapist, I have been privileged to hear the secret descriptions of pain and despair felt by my clients. As a medical social worker, I have observed the suffering a family experiences when they learn the fate of a terminally ill loved one. I have held a child in my arms for an hour, as she grieved the death of her mother.
I saw the expressions of hopelessness as the survivors of Hurricane Andrew surveyed the destruction of their homes. As a person, I have felt my own grieve and fear as I faced the crisis of death and illness in my family. If this was all I had seen in these difficult situations, I could not call crisis an adventure; however, I have been blessed to see another side of trauma. Out of the ashes of despair, I have observed the power of love heal the wounds of a troubled family. I have seen the news of death bring people together in a closeness they never dreamed possible.
After the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, I watched as neighbours dropped racial barriers to help one another rebuild. I have seen clients reach down deep inside themselves to find a superhuman strength to overcome a physical disability. As a spiritual teacher, I have seen despair turn people toward the power of God within them. I have watched seemingly helpless people become spiritual giants as they exercised the power of prayer to overcome an impossible situation.
Crisis is a two-edged sword. It brings the destruction of life as we have known it. It threatens our
status quo, creating chaos where there was once stability. It challenges our beliefs and response patterns. It pushes our ability to cope. But crisis always brings opportunity for something new to develop from the ruins of our old way of life. Its pain is like the contractions of labour; almost too much to bear, yet easily forgotten with the joy of a new birth.
Crisis offers many hidden benefits to those who accept the challenge to transform in the face of disaster. It gives you the opportunity to shift directions and make important changes in your life. As people re-evaluate the meaning of life during their crisis, they often discover their life mission, giving them a greater sense of direction and purpose.
Sometimes people in crisis will find an inner strength they never knew existed. Some people learn to tap into their inner guidance for day to day direction. Others find they are given the opportunity to re-evaluate core beliefs that had negatively affected their experiences of life.
Crisis invites you to experience and release old fears. In the face of death or annihilation, people have the opportunity to consciously choose life. Most people find a deeper connection to God. Many people develop a profound sense of trust, knowing there is someone or something larger than themselves that is watching over them.
Crisis is an opportunity, not a certainty. You can choose to take advantage of the energy in a crisis or you can surrender to the feelings of despair and hopelessness. The adventure begins when you choose to use this opportunity to grow. I have heard about people who have accepted the challenge and transformed their lives. These people are not special. They are ordinary human beings just like you. If they can do it, so can you.
Marty Varnadoe Dow Miami-based spiritual teacher.