Growing Through Crisis

The surest sign of spring at my house is the return of the cardinals. The azaleas can bloom only to freeze. Tulip and daffodil leaves often sprout never having the chance to flower. But when I see those flurries of red and brown flitting two by two across my front yard, I know spring has arrived.

I also know that tornados and spring storms won’t be far behind the cardinals. Lately, Mother Nature and human nature have been up in arms (literally and figuratively) more frequently and viciously. Earthquakes and tsunamis, hurricanes and tornados destroy our homes and landscapes. Economic upheavals erase the pretty pictures of our former American dreams and force us to repaint them.

In human terms, the excuses we need to draw battle lines with another country, faith group, political party or individual are getting flimsier all the time. Hatred, bigotry, abusive language and dismissive judgments are the mode of the day. In the minds of many, the right to proudly act on these human flaws and failings has been elevated to the status of a constitutional right.

My heart would utterly fail within me if I didn’t have faith in the possibility of renewal and rebirth! Thank God for Spring!

I recall May of 2009 when our area experienced one of Mother Nature’s really bad moods. The air here was filled with sighs of relief at lives spared, earnest expressions of gratitude and acknowledgements of what is really important in life. Like all communities in crisis, banded together to weather the storm. We were more patient than usual. We spoke more respectfully and showed genuine concern for each other. We swore our lives would never be the same again.

Crisis is a teacher of great lessons. But once crisis has passed, the lessons are often forgotten. Take a minute and think about the vows you made to yourself after your last crisis experience. Are you now doing what you promised you’d do? Are you still living a life infused with a sense of what really matters? Have you lived or lost those precious lessons?

As a season of rebirth and renewal, spring is the perfect time to renew your commitments.  New flowers and rain showers remind us that it takes precious little to create a happy life if the heart and spirit are set aright. Even when all seems lost, rebirth will come as surely as do the spring and the cardinals.

Possibilities for renewal can be found all around us, albeit in strange and unlikely places. For example, you may have just lost your job. That’s an experience none of us would relish. However, what if you consciously choose to see the lack of a job as a chance for renewal instead of a loss?

Perhaps you’ve had an idea for a business of your own for years, but haven’t tried it out. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to go to college and study engineering or psychology. It doesn’t matter why you now have the chance to do these things. What matters is that you see the chance to create something better at least as strongly as you see your loss.

Maybe you just got out of a long term relationship. And maybe ending the relationship was not your idea. But the choice to thrive and create a new life after the breakup is entirely in your hands. You have the option of centering your attention and emotion on what someone else’s actions took from you. But just as surely, you can see this ending as a chance to free yourself for new experiences.

In both cases, the facts can seem bleak. Former jobs and relationships are gone. Life has changed in radical ways. But we still have the power to assign the meaning to the facts through our choices and actions.

Crises may come, but they will go. And like physical birth, spiritual, professional or relationship rebirths may be very painful experiences. But they can lead to beautiful things if you are open to losing the loss and embracing the opportunity!

Life and renewal are as certain as death and destruction. Faith and hope are as sure as despair. Whether to serve hope or despair is the most basic choice in human life. Choose wisely!

Dr. Janice Staab is a philosophical counselor and life coach. For more information on her services or to schedule your free consultation, e-mail You can also check out her Web site at


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