Leading Through Crisis, Tragedy, and Trauma (OC14)

orange2014_brooklynlindsey

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Brooklyn Lindsey is a middle school pastor at a church in Florida. She started off her workshop at Orange Conference 2014 by asking the audience if they have experienced crisis within the last week. After most everyone in the room raised their hand, she moved on to share a word of encouragement for everyone.

“You are not superhuman, but you are supernaturally able,” Brooklyn starts. You are probably not able to do things that superheroes do to save people by flying in and saving the day, but you do have the ability to respond in a way that is supernatural. The church is a lighthouse people often run to in times of crisis. Brooklyn urges to stand strong, because people will run to us in hard times. She then said, “We might not be the best in every situation, but we can be our best.”

Usually, when you learn about a crisis, your response should not really be a Facebook message. Actual conversation is the first response. At the end of the day, our job is to be ready to respond. Brooklyn stated, “Your genuine and thoughtful response will tell the hurting that you care.”

When we respond in conversation, we need to:

  • Focus on listening — Hear what they have to say and what they are going through.
  • Focus on feeling — Allow them to express how they truly feel.
  • Focus on remembering — Urge them to remember the good memories in the middle of hurt.

For the “feeling” point, she recommended the book, “Youth Workers Guide to Crisis” (Youth Specialties). In the back of the book, there is a list of adjectives you can allow students to use when they are struggling to find the words to explain how they feel.

She then shared a list of what to say and what not to say:

Say:

  • “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
  • “I hate that you’re going through this.”
  • “I know this is really hard.”
  • “Tell me a story about this person.”
  • “We’re going to walk through this together.” (Or find someone to walk through it with them.)

Don’t say:

  • Avoid cliches, answers, and timeless.
  • “Everything happens for a reason.”
  • “How are you?”
  • “You’ll get over this.”
  • “God just needed another angel.”
  • “At least you have your dad/friend/etc.”
  • “Don’t cry.”

Brooklyn reminds us that sometimes you deal with crisis at the time, but other times, you will deal with it years later. So, be ready for that. Also, the crises in our lives can incubate miracles. They can also help us become a better lighthouse.

She ended with a reference to the song, “Say Something.” Many times people are there standing and waiting for us to just say something. They are getting ready to walk out and give up, but if we just say something, they won’t give up and walk away.

Brooklyn says that if your friends are not speaking words of truth into your life, leave them. This is important, because we need to take care of ourselves in order to be a better lighthouse.

“Crisis shadows the future, so your role in the present is incredibly important.”

So, what is a crisis? Brooklyn shares some definitions and things to keep in mind:

  • A crisis is a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.
  • A period of disequilibrium that overpowers a person’s homeostatic mechanisms (therapeutic definition).
  • A crisis throws people off balance.
  • It can be difficult to predict.
  • It can be brought on by anything.
  • It can be something that effects someone in one stage of their life and not in another.

It is also important to remember the person going through the crisis determines the crisis.

Brooklyn then went over the levels of crisis, and what our response should be in each:

  • Acute: pointed, painful, and immediate. Do whatever you can at that moment.
  • Chronic: enduring, persistant. Because it happens over and over, sometimes your response can be slower. You might even be able to predict it, if you are connected enough.
  • Adjustment: temporary, transitory, situational. Respond in the moment, if you are there. You could also respond a while later or over time, depending on the situation.

She ended with referencing Daniel 12:3, which (in the NIV) says, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”

In order to connect with Brooklyn Lindsey, visit her website at BrooklynLindsey.com or on Twitter at @brooklynlindsey.

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