Monday, October 27, 2008

Positive Change in a Crisis

Creating Positive Change in spite of Crisis
By Dwight Bain, Certified Life Coach & Nationally Certified Counselor

Change... it is a part of life that we don’t like to face. Oh we may speculate on what it would be like to live some where else, move to another house, take another job in another industry, move away from mom and dad, or marry our 'dream date'. We like to talk about the big changes that we may go through one day; but let's face it. Most people hate to go through a major change. I think we tend to avoid change like the plague; even though we know in our heads that God will ultimately use change to grow us into a stronger person through the process.

Some of the changes in life are predictable.

Losing our first tooth, the independence that comes from a driver’s license, graduation, moving out on our own, and other expected stages of life. Some changes are not pleasant, but equally common. A new-born baby not sleeping well and the parents struggling to find the energy to cope with an infants continual cries for comfort, siblings fighting with each other, feeling nervous about a job interview, wondering if you will be able to pay for a child’s future education. We think about those changes for years, often with worry, sometimes with a plan on how to cope when the kids leave home, but always with the anticipation that the event will happen one day.

These changes we accept as a part of growing up... of moving forward... even if we don’t like it. You may be old enough to remember a popular song from the 1960's based on a Bible verse from Ecclesiastes 3 :1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” I believe that God has a plan and purpose for your life, and ultimately we know that these predictable stages are a good thing.

What about changes we don’t like- the ones that are unpredictable and painful?

Think about the sudden and unpredictable changes in life. Single words tell it all.

Death, lawsuit, divorce, flood, abuse, hurricane, bankruptcy, flunked, foreclosure, fired!

Do we quickly seek to be grateful or to thank God for these events? I don’t and suspect that you don’t either. It is hard to see the blessing when the change was so unexpected, so sudden, so painful and so hard to figure out.

Many years ago I read that television personality Oprah Winfrey began to keep a “Gratitude Journal” every day, where she would write down 5 blessings at the end of every day to thank God about and to stay focused on the positive, instead of dwelling on the negatives. I’ve tried her technique and found it to be really helpful; but to be honest, during some really tough times I felt so overwhelmed by what was happening around me that I didn’t have the energy to even think any positive thoughts- much less write them down. I was just trying to hang on and survive another day.

Perhaps that is why the following words have so much meaning to me. They were spoken by a media personality who shared these inspirational words at a banquet where he was the keynote speaker for the event. It's important to know to really appreciate the impact of these words that he was speaking that night AFTER he had been fired from his day job, yet BEFORE he was allowed by his contract to share his being fired with the public. Listen:

“After awhile, you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul. You begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises. Learn to accept your defeats with head up and eyes open- with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child. You build your roads on today, because tomorrow’s roads are too uncertain for plans. So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And learn you really can endure, that you really are strong and you really do have worth.”

These words reminded me that God is in control even if my life feels like it is in a total crisis. I believe that God has a plan for each of us, and often that plan goes through a major test by ‘fire’ and pain that leads through whatever challenge we are facing, (never around it), to the strength that comes on the other side of a crisis.

The wisest man who ever lived wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, and at the end of the third chapter he includes the following theme which really gives us the big picture on sudden and unexpected change. ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot comprehend what God has done from beginning to end.”

So, if you are facing the toughest time of your life, or perhaps are at the crossroads between two major decisions I hope that you will take time to sit down to figure out your options, because you always have options! My personal belief is that God has the major changes of our lives mapped out. Only He knows why bad things happen to good people, which is why I don’t spend much time trying to figure out philosophical issues, since it makes more sense to focus on getting through the day.

So the next time a major change is coming your way, or hurts you, or feels scary, or causes you to want to run like crazy- I hope you will try running. Except this time run toward counting your blessings instead of your problems. Run toward strategies, supports and mapping out solutions instead of just sitting and feeling stress or panic. And most of all, run toward God, because in Him you will find the spiritual peace you need to face tough times. If you are in a really difficult place know that millions of people just like you and me find that experiencing His presence and comfort makes all the difference to guide you from panic to a place of inner strength and lasting peace. Pretty good trade to swap panic for peace when facing a major change. Start today and you will see that your life will grow more positive tomorrow in spite of any crisis.

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About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 150 complimentary articles and special reports at