Sometimes events turn out totally different than you could have expected.
Sometimes events occur as you have imagined it in your worst nightmares.
Sometimes there are forces more powerful than you that work against you.
Sometimes you are thrown into a scenario without having control over it.
Sometimes all you can do is stand there helplessly as a part of your world is falling apart.
And sometimes these things occur all at once.
This is what happend to our family last week. My husband had to travel to Berlin for a court hearing regarding the custody of his beautiful little daughter. The child protective services had been in contact with him for a while now and had suggested that we had very good chances of getting custody.
However, a few days before the hearing, the statements started to change somewhat and the information we received did not indicate any involvement from our side whatsoever. It was suggested that my stepdaughter will be placed in a home, away from the mother, for an undetermined amount of time for reasons that I won’t discuss publicly.
The hearing must have been a nightmare. His daughter was placed in a home right that afternoon. The judge did not even want to allow my husband and the mother of his child to see their daughter before they took her.
Can you imagine being a 4-year old, leaving home in the morning and then not seeing your parents again? There are no words for this kind of cruelty.
In the end, they were able to say goodbye and at least try to explain to the little girl what was happening. However, since then, everything has changed.
We are all besides ourselves. Neither father nor mother are allowed to know where there child is. They have no way of contacting her, don’t know how she is doing and what is going on.
So, yes, life really threw us a curveball this week. But crises happen in all shapes and forms, they aren’t always so dramatic and heartbreaking.
The question is: what do you do when a crisis strikes?
Do feel defeated and give up?
Do you get wildly furious to the point where you can’t function anymore?
Do you remain optimistic, but decide not to take matters into your own hands?
Do you create an action plan on how to turn things around?
Do you accept what happened and move on?
No matter the magnitude of the crisis, it is easy to drown in self-pity and lose hope. It is even understandable to be scared. However, these feelings will only work against you.
Sure, what happened in our case is cruel, unjust and simply not the right thing for the girl, but dwelling on that fact won’t help anybody, not her and not us.
If you’re sad or even shocked, that’s logical, but you should redirect these emotions not to wear you down but to enable you to take action.
Rage is another common reaction to unforeseeable events. Again, while it is certainly comprehensible to feel this way, it is nevertheless horribly destructive. When feeling utterly angry, you cannot make reasonable choices. You may even worsen the situation, which, in the end, serves no one, right?
It is vital to remain a clear head (even if you are deeply emotional about the situation) to be able to think of plans and ways to get out of this plight.
Some people remain positive (“in the end, things will turn out fine”) when struck by a crisis, but cannot muster up the courage to stand up and simply fight.
While this approach is certainly much healthier than getting angry, frustrated or wildly furious, it won’t let you move forward. Despite the fact that the card we have been dealt was not our choice, we don’t have to stand on the sideway and watch what happens next. We can write the next chapter of this book ourselves.
Think about the following: what if you saw your crisis not as a thread that will overwhelm you, but as a challenge you can master? You change your entire attitude and by doing that, whatever happened to you, suddenly becomes manageable.
You start thinking of plans of how to correct the future and fight in order to turn everything around again. You start to see solutions and begin to think of creative ways of how to get out of this scenario.
You may even come up with ideas that will drastically improve your life in ways you could not have dreamed of.
In fact, every challenge creates opportunities.
So, by simply replacing the word “crisis” with “challenge”, you can create a whole new realm of possibilities.
The next time a challenge shows up on your doorstep, let it in and start a conversation with it:
“What happened is disastrous, but what can we do to turn the future around? Who can we work with in order to create new chances? Who is there to help us and guide us through dark times? Who has been through the same and might be able to give us advice?”
This, too, will enable you to create that action plan that you need so desperately when you want to be the driving force behind what is going to happen next!
But what happens when matters really are not changeable? What happens when nothing you can do will alter the situation?
You have to accept it. You have to come to peace with it and then live your life. While this is certainly not applicable in our case, it is at times the only thing to do.
Dwelling on what is irreversible is only a waste of time, energy and emotions. You have to find a way to get comfortable with this new situation and make the best of it. While it is true and you might have to refocus and realign your hopes and dreams and maybe even your vision for your life, it is also the only chance of finding fulfillment and purpose again.
So, even if it seems like you cannot influence anything, there is one thing you can control. It is the way you look at these events. If you create a meaning for what happened, you can integrate it in your life’s story, learn from it and move on.
Yes, there are many ways in which we can react to unwanted challenges in our lives.
My husband and I are fortunate enough to have a huge family that is on our side, hurt by what happened but so ready to fight with us. And this is exactly what we are going to do.
We won’t give up and wait for what other forces decide to do with our girl, we will fight for her with all the means we have.
As soon as we know more about the whole process, we will move our home base to Berlin for a while to be there for her, hoping we can influence the outcome of this nightmare.
We owe it to her to be strong, courageous and hopeful.