Being there in the crisis (4)
Here are three more helpful steps you can take: 1) Encourage action. Sometimes we over-function in crises, making the needy person dependent and undermining the very self-reliance that can strengthen them. One psychiatrist says, ‘We must do for others what they cannot do for themselves, but we must not do for them what they will not do for themselves.’ Becoming proactive in a crisis arms people against despair and powerlessness. Encouraging manageable action steps builds emotional and spiritual muscle. Helping them evaluate their actions and validating their efforts rebuilds their confidence. When the crisis involves irreversible losses (like death or divorce), the work of getting through one day at a time and gradually adjusting to the changes is action enough. 2) Impart hope. Often there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel and a sense that the suffering will go on endlessly. What people need at that moment is hope. Hope brings relief based on the conviction that things will improve, and provides energy to deal with the crisis. The Bible is a book of hope. It energises us when we feel like, ‘This is the worst thing imaginable. It will never get better.’ 3) Do the follow-up. Crises are seldom resolved instantly. Life may soon return to a semblance of normalcy, but there may be episodes of relapse into sadness, helplessness, or loneliness. Your words may bring comfort and hope, but it’s your abiding interest that helps people to maintain their faith and progress!