When crisis strikes and life gets stressful and messy, these are the 4 things I do first to hold it all together.
Last week in small group, we were talking about the idea of suffering. We live in a fallen world full of broken people and it is more a question of when difficulty or a crisis will strike, not if. As Christians, suffering is never superficial. You don’t go through tough times for no reason at all and God is always working for your good, in the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I have found myself shifting my focus away from trying to just simply avoid difficult situations and, instead, really figuring out how to handle those difficulties when crisis strikes.
When I looked back over the tough times in my life, whether it was my divorce, work stressors, a move, a breakup, the loss of a family member, or strife in friendships, there were four things that have helped me to not only survive but thrive every single time crisis has struck.
My 4 First Defenses When Crisis Strikes
#1 – Prayer
This is not always natural for me, but I have worked hard to retrain myself to fix my eyes on God first, not as a last resort after my worries have run me completely ragged.
It’s a choice to run to God when things are hard. Intentionally choosing to hear His truths and promises more loudly than the screaming fear is hard, but always worth it.
In the most difficult moments, sometimes all I can muster is a ragged whisper of, Jesus, help.
I often journal my prayers because writing it down helps me to slow down, sort out, and get my thoughts unstuck. I can more easily recognize the doubts and worries and weigh them against His promises.
It’s in prayer that I can truly surrender, lifting the situation to Him, and falling into His loving arms of comfort, protection, and peace.
#2 – Reaching Out
I have the best people in my life. They are wise, patient, loving, supportive, and encouraging.
Most of the time, I don’t even know what I need in the middle of a crisis, but just having people I love and trust there, even if it’s just through a text message, can change everything.
I am an external processor, so talking things through with my closest friends always helps me, but it doesn’t even take that. A hug, a word of encouragement, or just spending time in their presence helps me to cope.
Recently, I had a hard day and told a friend that I was sure I would be fine in a few days and her response was, “I’m less concerned about you being fine and more invested in you feeling supported/not alone in this.” Walking through difficult times with people by your side is a powerful thing.
Your support system is useless if you never let them in and ask for help. Even if you don’t know exactly what you need, tell them when you are going through something hard.
Going through something alone does not make you stronger and asking for help does not make you a burden.
#3 – Exercise
It’s true. Getting myself moving, especially if it’s outside, gives me a healthy release for all of that pent-up anxiety. It may not fix everything, but it sure does lift my mood and help me process things more clearly!
I’ve written before about how running has soothed my heartache and it’s still just as true. When I feel my thoughts clouding and my stress rising, even if I don’t feel like it, I grab my running shoes and go.
Exercise is one of those things that doesn’t just affect your physical health, but also your mental and spiritual health.
It gives you energy, confidence, a more positive outlook, and helps you to sleep better. When your thoughts get all jumbled and tangled with stress, it pushes aside the franticness and gives you clarity.
#4 – Music
I have a soundtrack for just about every season of my life, whether it is happy or sad.
My brother-in-law bought me a Michael W. Smith album that I probably listened to 100 times when I was going through my divorce. I have a happy playlist that I blast when I want to dance it out around thekitchen while I do dishes. Currently, I’m on a Lauren Daigle kick and have really been enjoying trying to play some of her stuff on the piano.
I enjoy music as entertainment, but when I’m going through a tough time, it also helps to soothe raw emotions.
Music is relaxing, lowering stress and anxiety. It helps me sleep better (which is a really big deal in those times of stress!) and it helps me to feel and process through the emotions I’m experiencing. Because worship music is usually my go-to, it also keeps my eyes fixed on Christ instead of getting lost in a sea of doubt and fear.