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The Blessing of Urgency

I’ve been hearing a phrase a lot lately – “the blessing of urgency” – and I think it captures our times in a striking and meaningful way.  The blessing of urgency comes about in times of crisis and trauma.  Our recent and widespread financial crisis has many people coming to us now in very desperate, distressed, hopeless states.  The current crisis has stirred up memories of other times, of other things that occurred in their lives that were painful and traumatic.  This restimulation and resurfacing of past pain can leave them completely overwhelmed emotionally.  Another effect from our financial crisis is that, due to high levels of stress, many people we’re seeing are beginning to break down physically with serious illnesses.

The “blessing of urgency” is a way of looking at our distressing situation as an opportunity for change.  When we have our backs to the wall and our old ways of living and succeeding aren’t working anymore, we have the opportunity to be creative.  We have a chance to try new things, to find new ways to overcome and survive the difficulties we’re facing.  Instead of seeing our situation as threatening and destructive, we can see it as an opportunity to do new things, meet challenges in new ways, be creative and inventive.  Under pressure, we are sometimes capable of things we never believed we could do; good things like new thoughts and ideas can come out of our subconscious.

What we’ve been doing at the institute lately is a good example of this.  We’re busy and doing well, but we’ve had to start doing things in ways we’ve never done before – like this blog.  We’re also writing a book, something I’ve wanted to do for years and never made time for until now.  We’re reaching out to new groups of people and able to touch and relate to them in ways that we weren’t able to before.

Recently, for example, we started working with a couple whose home is in foreclosure.  Prior to entering the foreclosure process, the husband and wife had difficulty communicating and resolving conflicts.  The arguments they carefully tried to conceal from their three children took on a greater intensity – and volume – after the banks stepped in and the loss of their home became imminent.  The real breaking point came over the Labor Day weekend at an extended family barbeque.  Family gatherings have always been a source of stress for this couple because both sides of the family don’t always get along.  Halfway through the afternoon, after his in-laws brought up for the “millionth” time that he was too permissive with his kids, the husband exploded – both at his in-laws and his wife.  Months of pent-up stress fueled words he now deeply regrets – and were heard by his shocked children.  While this couple had known for years that their relationship wasn’t as close and loving as they would have liked, things just hadn’t “bad enough yet” to spur them to seek help. Until now.

Out of their foreclosure crisis has come a new awakening in this couples’ marriage. They are finally getting help to improve their relationship and manage their finances in brand new ways they never looked at before.  They’re beginning to see the issues that need to be straightened out and address them.  If they stay on a path of healing, good things will come out of this time for them.

I believe that this crisis and the “blessing of urgency” it gives us, can reveal less-than-ideal things in our lives and relationships that we wouldn’t have looked at under easier, more comfortable circumstances.  Having been revealed, they can be addressed and changed.  And the hope of change for the better is a blessing, indeed.