In my book Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity, I wrote the following in Introduction. Don’t Waste a Good Crisis is also the title of the first section of the book.
“Part I is an accounting of probably the most significant event in my life. It wasn’t my wedding day—it wasn’t the birth of my children (although both of those are significant). It was a crisis. My friend, Dr. Paul Fitzgerald says, never waste a good crisis.” ~Karl Forehand, Being
When I was a pastor, I had to respond to many different levels of problems. There were operational issues with the church. People had disagreements. Other people got sick. And eventually, people had serious situations and some of them passed away. In the small town of my first pastorate, I buried two young adults both died in car accidents in the first year. They were actually cousins – believe me, it was a crisis!
I noticed people have predictable ways they respond to a crisis. Some use platitudes because they are uncomfortable. They plan their words ahead of time and then recite them to each other hoping they will help in one way or another. Other people just prepare food and try to do something that shows they care. Sometimes people will even minimize the crisis as God’s will or for our good or something else they hope will smooth over the pain of the event so that we can get back to normal. But most of these things don’t work long term.
My crisis came mostly because of 20 years of stuffing things down and trying to use quick fixes. After all that time, eventually it all came to the surface at once. In the book, I talk about how “my thoughts were crashing into each other”. I didn’t know how to get out of the situation I was in. It wouldn’t help to stuff it down – that wasn’t working any more.
So, how does a crisis help us get better?
For me, my dark night forced me to be willing to do whatever it took to get better. I’ll let you read about the actual story if you want, but mainly it forced everything out into the open where I had to deal with it. I committed to the hard work even before I knew what that work was. The crisis humbled me enough to know that I didn’t have the answers and would have to find them and trust the people that did know.
I hope it doesn’t take a crisis like mine to force you to do the work for your own healing. If you are in the middle of a crisis, seek out expert help and, for once, be willing to really listen.
Religion sometime teaches us spiritual bypassing and looking for miraculous answers. Certainly, miraculous things happen every day, but we might be better served to find out what we can do to find healing. Maybe instead of praying for miracles, we could commit to doing what it takes to find healing for the places where we are stuck.
Maybe this crisis you are in will give you the impetus to seek to out help and commit to the work necessary to progress in you journey. If you’re not in a crisis, maybe my story will guide you to be proactive and head it off at that pass!
I’m rooting for you!
Be where you are, be who you are,
Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and The Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!