In a crisis, stop, listen

Just when you think you’ve gotten everything figured out and things are running smoothly, you hit a curve in the road. A stumbling block. The hypothetical rug pulled out from under your feet. Life certainly has a way of keeping us all on our toes.

In those moments, it’s easy to lose our strength and waver in our convictions. Not knowing what to do or where to turn, we begin the blame game. And often, the blame comes down to God – how could he let this happen? Does this sound like a familiar scenario?

Whether in times of natural disaster, societal and political conflicts or personal turmoil, challenges are a part of life. And while they can be difficult and often heartbreaking to confront, somehow we always turn out to be better in the end. After all, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Part of that strength comes from our ability to reflect and search for the lesson. Despite our initial reaction of blaming God, part of me has always found that there’s usually a purpose for whatever hardship we find ourselves encountering.

Lately it seems like every time we turn around, there’s more violence, more international conflict, more wars to be won. I often wonder whether we’re the first generation to feel like this – whether the intensity of these ongoing conflicts has been felt before. And then I recall my history, our nation’s history. This too will pass.

When I look back on times of personal crisis, I immediately notice a pattern that usually involves negligence or at least a failure to appreciate what I have.

Sometimes the juggling act of work responsibilities and family life is overwhelming, and it feels like something has to give.

Often, in the chaos of teaching and striving to be a better professional, I let my personal life fall to the wayside. In those moments, I’m forced to remember my wedding vows: to love and honor my husband. Neither of those things is easy, and yet it’s a promise that I’ve made and intend to keep.

In those moments of crisis, I find that God is asking me to stop and listen.

Like the burning bush, sometimes we’re given these obstacles because it’s the only way for God to make himself known to us. Those moments are like a calling card. We’re asked to stop and reflect:  Are we putting the things that should matter the most first in our lives?

Whenever God shuts a door, he always opens a window. No matter what we’re going through, challenges present themselves as opportunities for change. When we focus on the positive and learn to appreciate the value in the smaller or simpler things, we can remind ourselves of what really matters.

Challenges and losses tend to make us realize the true values in life – the people we love, our faith, our community. When we turn our thoughts inward and move toward accepting change and recognizing new possibilities, we return our focus to regaining our strength. We pick up the pieces, let go of the past and move forward to a better future.

Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at hbozantwitcher@clarionherald.org.

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