Crisis Survival for Parents

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Kara Dedert gives you advice on what to do and how to respond to crisis in your family.

They say you can’t get struck by lightning twice. They were wrong.

We sat silently in the car during the long drive to the University of Michigan Hospital. We’d been in a terrific struggle of care and survival with our disabled son, Calvin, and were struggling to manage his care. All the while I kept noticing our other son, Noah, was not looking well and was complaining of leg pain constantly. After several tests it was discovered that his aorta was narrowed down to the size of a pinhole and the bottom half of his body was hardly receiving blood. He needed to have open heart surgery.

The next weeks were filled with shuffling between the onsite hotel room in the hospital and the ICU and recovery rooms. My husband and I would sit on opposite sides of Noah’s bed with Calvin in our arms, stunned, hardly able to believe this was all happening. Two of our four children were struggling with life-threatening conditions.

Do you have crisis in your life? Ones that leave you unable to catch your breath? Maybe your challenges are coming in waves and you wonder if you can keep your head above the water. Here are some reminders while you are treading in deep water:

Crisis is a time for leaning. You cannot possibly carry the load and control what happens–you will melt into puddles of frustration. Lean on your family. Take them up on the offer to help. My parents came with us and slept overnight. My dad was the first one to see Noah after surgery in the wee hours while we all slept. My mom understood the turmoil and stress and was right beside me every step of the way. Sisters and brothers cared for our other children and called often. Lean on your church. Let them comfort and encourage you. Several people gave cards and included money for meals at the hospital. These were people who had to go out of town for many medical procedures themselves and knew how the expenses piled up. Let your church pray for you. Let them carry you.

Crisis is a time to cling to your spouse. That may seem obvious but stress can make your relationship wacky. Stress can make you turn on each other rather than holding the other up. The night before Noah’s surgery things exploded between Darryl and I. It’s easy to do when you’ve got pent up anxiety–suddenly you’re arguing about inconsequential things or hurts from long ago. Take a step back, reaffirm your love to one another, seek forgiveness, and pray with one another. You are the most comforting one to your husband and he to you. Don’t turn on each other; instead lean on each other as you move forward together. Share the pain; don’t add to it.

Crisis is a time to realize the promises of God. God gave us the promises because He knew we’d go through challenging and painful times. He doesn’t prevent pain from entering our lives but He promises Himself and all His comforts in the thick of it. Write out a few strongholds to stand on in times of doubt and fear. A refuge must be sought and run to in order for it to comfort us! Seek him and pray for His extraordinary grace to carry you in impossible times. Of particular help are verses that remind you of the Lord’s intimate care and provision. Take refuge in who HE is.

Crisis is a time to look only at today. Mothers are usually thinking about what lies ahead. It’s necessary for much of our responsibilities. But in times of crisis you need to limit your mind in certain ways about the future. Deal with what you are handed at that moment and trust His grace for THAT moment. Don’t expect a huge stockpile of grace immediately for the future. God will give you what you need WHEN you need it. We remain prayerful, needy beggars at His feet, He has not once disappointed. In fact, He knows far better than you what you need! Don’t go down all the “What-if?” pathways. It invites despair and doubt. Remember that if the worst does happen, it only happens under the hand of God. The same hand that will carry you. Rely on Him for this moment and leave the future to Him.

Crisis is a time to constantly pour out your heart. There’s nothing that would delight Satan more than for wedges and division to rise up in your heart. Divisions in human relationships and wedges of bitterness and resentment to God. When you are tempted to do these things, pour out your heart. Seek the face of the Lord. Confess the deepest things of your heart to Him; He is a tender Father. Seek humility and transparency in your relationships with family. Many of them care more than they can express; don’t be easily offended when people say the  “wrong thing.” Be grateful so many surround you and love you. Let your true affection for them be seen and felt.

Crisis is a time to encourage your child. This may have been the hardest thing for me. Noah was almost 5 and had a fair understanding of what was to occur. He trusted us completely but really had an inkling of an idea of the immensity of the event. The night before he started to cry, somehow sensing the precariousness of the procedure. We wanted to melt into tears with him but instead took the time to rub his back, hold him close and bring him to the Lord in prayer. Together we repeated the promises of God and I snuggled beside him until he fell asleep. His little heart was too small to bear the turmoil of mine, the last thing he needed was to carry my worry on top of his fear.

I hope these are an encouragement to you. Perhaps you are in a moment of fear, perhaps your worst dream has been realized. Pour out your heart before Him, He is a refuge for you.

Written by: Kara Dedert

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