Managing a Crisis: The Word I Never Wanted to Hear

Brian Compton is husband to Andrea, dad to two great kids, and pastor of Hillcrest Church. In 2007, he received the news that changed his family forever. In this post by Brian, he shares how he and his wife navigated family life after hearing what no one wants to hear.

I’ll never forget the moment I heard the worst news of my life.  

It was big—bigger than I could handle at the moment.  

It was daunting—things felt like they would never be the same.  

And if I’m honest, it was scary—the future felt extremely uncertain and the outlook was dim. 

It was a Friday back in 2007 when my doctor told me I had cancer.  

Cancer is a dreadful word that none of us take lightly and it had intruded into our happy lives and home.  My wife Andrea and I were parents to an 18 month old boy at the time and he was our world.  But parenting through that season of uncertainty would suddenly begin to look much different than the previous 18 months.  We made it through the cancer diagnosis and treatments with our family intact, healthy, and happy.  Not only that… four months after I left the hospital for the last time we welcomed a healthy baby girl into our family! 

My family learned a few things through our journey of parenting through crisis that I’d love to share with you.  My crisis sounds extreme, but these things are not cancer specific.  Your crisis might look like a layoff, car accident, house fire, rebellious child or financial struggle.  

When crisis strikes there’s a feeling that everything has changed and we tend to react.  That’s normal.  But I want to remind you to stay the course.  Remember who you were the day before the crisis.  Keep in mind your goals and dreams, because you and your family can use those as handles of hope as you navigate the crisis.  Andrea and I still talked about trips we wanted to take, things we wanted to do, and we somehow found time to go on dates here and there. 

Our greatest parenting strength comes from the depth of our family relationships.

Our greatest parenting strength comes from the depth of our family relationships.  A crisis will be stressful and test the mettle of those bonds, but it will also reveal the beauty and strength of them.  Let it reveal what it reveals and fall back on your strengths as a family.  Parent and live from those qualities, for I believe they’re God-given.

During a crisis, find a way to parent in a way that doesn’t put children into the world of “adult problems.”  My son struggled to understand why I wasn’t around as much.  He didn’t see me as often and that upturned his whole world for a time.  So when I was with him, even though I was plagued by anxiety, I did my best to make things seem normal for him, and my wife was a huge stabilizing factor in that.  We played, we watched shows, we went to the park, we ate as a family.  I remember being super sick but still going to a fall kids festival with him, because he wanted the fun and I wanted the memory.  Even though this is your crisis, it’s still your kid’s life and they need to live it.  They need to see you find courage in a scary time.  They need to see you love your spouse though hardship.  They need to see you laugh despite pain.  They need to see what it really looks like to trust Jesus in the difficult moments so they can appreciate the happy ones.   

Through whatever situation you’re facing, or will soon face… you can do this! There is hope on the other side- stay strong and focus on the things that keep you encouraged.

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