By Lisa Hamel
I think we’ve all had crisis touch our lives. It’s especially difficult to go through crisis when you are neck deep in motherhood. There are crisis events, crisis seasons, and crisis marathons. A car crash. A cancer diagnosis. A painful divorce. Sometimes the effects can echo for decades and generations. It’s heartbreaking to watch a friend go through a crisis.
The question I most often hear when discussing these issues is “how can I help?”
Don’t ask for permission to help.
When a friend is overwhelmed by their life circumstances, they often don’t even know what they need. I’ve been insecure about how to help in the past, and so I’ve asked “how can I help?” right in the thick of crisis. Usually this is met with a blank stare. They’re too overwhelmed to know what they need!
So, if your gift is cooking, fill their freezer. If it’s encouraging, right them a card or send them a text everyday. Add scripture to it if they are a believer (maybe even if they aren’t . . . ) If your gift is giving, buy them dinner. If you enjoy a house full of kids, take their kids for the night.
We don’t need to be bossy, but often when someone is in shock, they struggle with decision-making. And crisis usually means a lot of decisions have to be made. Practical support is actually the most important kind at the beginning. Give from your heart and watch God bless.
Remember your portion.
As a kid, I would always yawn when I heard terms like “the Lord being my portion” thrown around. I mean, what did that even mean? Now as an adult, I’m very concerned with portion size. Like anytime I break open a bag of Doritos! Basically, our portion is what God has chosen in his infinite wisdom to give us. We have our portion, and our friends have theirs.
When one of my friends fought for her marriage through an adulterous affair, my husband and I were completely over-invested. This experience had physical impacts on us. We lost weight. We couldn’t sleep. We struggled to enjoy any aspect of our lives because we were so immersed in her crisis. This went on for years. When you can’t find joy and peace in your own home and family, you’re in too deep! You cannot rescue. Only Jesus can. We can’t take Doritos from someone else’s portion and not count the calories.
Like my last article on maturity mentioned, our biggest job during this phase of life is to care for our family. Ministry is important but there are many elders out there with more wisdom, time, and resources. There are skilled counselors who are trained to support and provide guidance. In a crisis situation, the body of Christ should be using all of its parts. If you are already in an overwhelming season, you may need to trust that God can bring someone else to minister.
God has given each of us our divine portion, and the moment by moment grace to accept it, but we don’t get grace for someone else’s problem.
Matthew 11:28-29 (ESV) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
The Hebrew word “chesed” means sticky. It is the idea of loyal love. Friendships are often based on circumstance, common lifestyle, or socio-economic standing. All of those things crumbled with our dear friend. But with the sticky love of Christ as our example, we determined to walk through life as friends. Even when it wasn’t as natural or convenient. Our common love for Jesus, and our joy at seeing her serve and obey the Lord as she suffered, kept us close. While remembering that only Jesus can always be with our friends and only Jesus can completely enter in, be a friend that shows the world we are Christians by our love.
When a friend is in a crisis marathon, remember to find ways to support that are a joy to you and that are sustainable. Otherwise, you’ll burn out and they’ll feel overwhelmed again. People in crisis sometimes experience what I call a “looping effect.” Like a spiral that heads downward, one desperate decision can lead to another. Crisis begets crisis. Self care goes on the back burner, especially when you are caring for kids! When your brain is in overwhelm, you either run away, freeze like a possum, or fight like a predator. It takes the love of Jesus to enable you to walk through difficulties, persecutions, and hardships like Jesus would. What a privilege it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our friends in crisis.
Years later, I had the opportunity to walk with another friend through crisis. We would meet, share her pain, pray together and return to a joyful state. Though my heart hurt for her, I didn’t spend time and energy getting worked up emotionally about her situation. I was able to stay with her in her pain while we were together, and then she took her pain home with her. For that brief time, I was her burden-bearer and then she carried her own load. And I knew that the ultimate burden-bearer, the One who bore all the sin and pain of this broken world, would always be with her. How good is our God to give us our divine portion, to meet our needs, to love us with sticky love, and to also perfectly bear our burdens!
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
Lisa is currently "SAHM-ing." In the past she has been a pastoral counselor, a singer, a music director, and an accountant! She lives in a multi generational home in the Pacific Northwest with her two boys, her amazing husband, and her mother. She is a coffee snob and a health nut who loves to dance like no one is watching. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!