Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Preparing Well For The Hard Times

Recently a good friend's marriage broke apart. A 14-year-old lost her best friend in a car accident. A family member learned the cancer came back. Another home continues to be rocked by abuse and mistreatment.

Most of us could provide our own list of stories where we or others are hurting deeply. As one of my professors said once, People are hurting more deeply than we know. The question is, "when hard times come will our family be ready or at least be prepared to handle them as wisely and helpfully as possible?"

Of course, like climbing mountains, it's tough to ever be fully prepared for what's up there on that mountain. But you can try and get ready as well as you can. And if we're wise we will not take preparation steps lightly.

Where do we start?

First, develop an openness at home including parents and kids to talk about things honestly. If we won't discuss the simple issues or events we probably won't talk about the challenging ones. Ideally you have to start early. Waiting until the worst comes and then expecting teens to talk, for example, will often be fruitless. But even if you did wait, try anyway now in the small things.

Second, avoid easy answers. When tragedy and hardship hit there are usually few simple responses. Talk often about how sometimes answers will differ depending upon the situation. People grieve in different ways and intervals. What specifically worked for someone else might now be the answer for you or the person you know.

Third, focus on principles and actions that are true and helpful for us all. For example, teach the concepts of God's goodness no matter what happens. Remind one another that Jesus said he would never leave or forsake us. Talk about the fact that God gets sad, Jesus shed tears and the Spirit can be grieved so we can too.

Finally, tell each other often that you love each other. We all need to be able to rest in the fact that our "accounts" are up to date, that we've said what we need to say to each other and that it will be natural to say those things in the struggle.

No, we can never fully prepare for the worst, but we can prepare the soil of our relationships so that in spite of the storm, growth and healthy change will still occur. But it won't happen by just hoping. We have to start and we have to start now.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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