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Michelle Warner

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“Sources of Crisis”

Posted on July 27th, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom Well

This well serves a unique drink:
Words that refresh and cause you to think.

“When the Heart Waits” by Sue Monk Kidd, pgs 82-85:

“When my son was ten, he spent an entire afternoon in the carport arranging hundreds of dominoes. He planned to set off a chain reaction so that they would fall in perfect sequence, the last one falling from the top of a little ramp into a bucket of water. He wanted to end with a splash, he explained.

With the last domino in place, he came inside to summon me to the big event. When we got to the carport, we found a dog lumbering through his creation. The whole thing was wrecked. My first thought was to chase the dog with a broom, at the very least, yell at it. Bob’s response was different, however. He sighed deeply, then went over and gave the dog a pat on the head. As he regrouped the dominoes, I asked him. ‘Didn’t that upset you?’

‘Yes, but stuff like this happens, Mama,’ he told me.

So it does. I don’t hold the idea that God causes suffering and crisis. I just know that those things come along and God uses them. We think life should be a nice, clean ascending line. But inevitably something wanders onto the scene and creates havoc with the nice way we’ve arranged life to fall into place. As my son taught me, those disruptions are part of life too. Stuff happens. You might as well pat the dog and regroup.

It helps if we understand the source of crisis. There are three basic sources: developmental transitions, intrusive events, and internal uprisings

[I am going to highlight what she says about "intrusive events" because that is what stuck most out to me in my journey.]

Intrusive Events

The second source of crisis comes from intrusive events that impinge on us from without. These crises come in many forms and usually take us by surprise. A death, an illness, an accident, a lost job, a broken relationship, an unwelcome move, a dashed dream, an empty nest, a betrayal.

It  may be unwise (probably even insensitive) to suggest to someone at this point that the calamity can be a transformative event. There’s a fullness of time for such an awareness, a fluidity to the crisis that must be allowed. When the awareness does manage to break through, however, it can assume the impact of Abraham Maslow’s ‘peak event’ or William James’s ‘epiphany.’

My friend Betty had an intrusive crisis event several years ago. In her early forties she was diagnosed with lung and breast cancer and given a rotten prognosis for recovery. I sat with her one day while she cried wrenching tears, feeling that my heart was going to explode along with hers. I couldn’t say to her, ‘Yes, but just you wait; this could be a transforming crisis.’ At the outset, what mattered was survival, ‘I will not die!’ she cried. ‘I will not! Do you hear me?’

‘I hear you,’ I told her. But we both knew it was some deep part of herself that she most wanted to hear those words.

She lived her crisis with raw honesty. As the weeks passed, I watched her pound her pillow with her fist in outraged indignation that such a thing could happen to her. I watched her sink. I watched her hold herself with utter love and whisper bleeding prayers.

Then one day it seemed to me she was different. ‘What happened?’ I asked her. She smiled, and if I love to be 110 I’ll never forget the beauty in her soul at that moment. She told me, ‘I looked death in the eyes and I said, ‘I want to live! But if I die, I die. And it will be well.’ I can’t explain it, Sue, but in that moment something in my innermost being shifted. I knew that my experience with cancer was going to be the most transforming journey of my life. Whatever happens, I’m going to be okay.’

She had come upon ‘epiphany’ buried in her crisis–the creative moment that can’t be forced, only discovered and chosen. Her crisis was the transforming crucible of her life. It propelled her into a new and deeper journey that she continues to this day.”

[I can't help but think of this song and the truth of it from Romans 8:28. So much more to write and hopefully I will carve out some time very soon to reflect on what God has been teaching me.]

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