A KCM BLOG
On 10.01.17 Stephen Paddock put his evil plan into action in Las Vegas, NV., killing 59, and wounding 520. Thousands of others were traumatized.
As a means to offer assistance in the wake of this crisis, KCM provides the following information to help those affected to best cope.
A crisis is a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. While the term is synonymous with trauma, there are important differences between the two. We will address the matter of trauma in a later post. But for now, we want to make the point that anyone facing intense difficulty or trouble as a result of the Las Vegas shooting could be said to be experiencing crisis to one degree or another.
In his book, The New Guide To Crisis & Trauma Counseling, Dr. H. Norman Wright explains the four phases of crisis. Knowing what these phases are can help us gauge where we are at as we process our crisis, which can then help us better determine what we need to do to best cope during each phase.
Phase One – Impact
When crisis impacts our life we tend to experience a set of symptoms that may involve: A sense to fight or flee; disorienting thought processes; feelings of numbness and overwhelm; limited sleep and appetite; a search for what was lost; as well as a tendency to reminisce. This first phase of crisis can last for hours or days, but in certain instances may last longer if the crisis is on-going.
Coping In Phase One:
Support is paramount when facing a crisis. Depending on the intensity of this first phase we might need help making decisions. Having others prepare meals, go grocery shopping, help out with household chores, accompany us to important or challenging meetings, etc., can go a long way in supporting our needs when impacted by crisis. Other forms of support come in the form of time spent with family and friends who are able to listen to us, receiving thoughtful cards, others praying for us, verses of Scripture, etc. It is important that we let family, friends, pastors, employers, etc., know what we need in the way of support. If we find it challenging to sleep during Phase One, allowing time for naps or quiet times of rest during the day is important. In cases where sleep is severely affected, contacting our primary care physician is wise. If our appetite is affected, protein drinks sipped through a straw will likely supply our nutritional needs for the time being.
Passages of Scripture to Consider: Psalm 34:18; Matthew 5:4; Proverbs 3:5-6
Phase Two – Withdrawal-Confusion
Days or weeks into the crisis is when we typically begin to feel intense emotions. This also tends to be a rather draining phase due to the lack of sleep and appetite experienced during the Impact Phase, coupled with experiencing the powerful emotions in Phase Two. Ambiguity of thought is to be expected. A sense of feeling “cloudy” or “puzzled” is a normal experience while in crisis. It is common for us to engage in wishful thinking during Phase Two. In the case of Las Vegas, those who where there might wish they’d never attended the event, or that they would have left prior to the shooting. Family members of those killed or wounded might attempt to bargain with God to undo this horror. In this particular case, we bargain because the result of Paddock’s evil (i.e., loss and turmoil) is too much for us to accept at this phase of the crisis. Phase Two can take days to weeks to process through. Depending upon the variables, in some cases this phase can last for months.
Coping In Phase Two:
As noted, it is common to experience intense emotions during this second phase. Because we tend to be overwhelmed in crisis, we will likely withdraw to some degree from family, friends, parishioners, coworkers, etc. While some withdrawal can be healthy in order to rest or process emotions on our own, we encourage those in crisis to ask trusted family and friends to gently encourage us to reengage when they sense we are withdrawing to too great a degree.
It can be rather challenging for our family and friends to watch us suffer through our crisis, some might give unsolicited advice, others may become frustrated with us when we don’t follow their counsel. Nobody is at their best in crisis, and this applies to those who are working to support us in our time of need as well. In such instances, it is best to kindly, gently let the individual know what we need from them. While not everyone is likely to meet our needs, most will do their best.
Phase Two requires time to process through our emotions. We suggest journaling, talking with family and friends, dedicating times of prayer, as well as light forms of exercise appropriate to one’s physical state of health. Many people find counseling to be beneficial during this phase, contact your pastor/minister or seek the services of a professional counselor.
Passages of Scripture to Consider: Psalm 147:3; Isaiah 41:10, 57:15; II Corinthians 12:9
Phase Three – Acceptance
While emotions still tend to run high in this third phase of crisis, we find ourselves experiencing more positive thoughts once again. The confusion experienced during Phase Two is lifting, and we are better able to concentrate and resolve problems. We withdraw less and begin to invest in life more. During Phase Three it is common for those working through crisis to report they sense they are learning from their crisis. It may take weeks to months to achieve enough acceptance to move forward into the fourth and final phase of crisis.
Coping in Phase Three:
In effect, during Phase Two we exhaust our efforts to avoid the losses/changes resulting from crisis, which then allows us to move forward into acceptance. Emotions remain intense during the outset of this phase, so it is important that we continue to lean on our network of support, as well as process through our emotions in healthy ways (i.e., talking, journaling, praying, exercising, eating healthy, etc.). It is important that we be gentle and patient with ourselves during this third phase: acceptance will not come overnight, we are going to have a mixture of good days and challenging days. It is helpful for us to share with our network of support the incremental successes we are having. This helps to assure them we are making progress in overcoming our crisis, and it is an energizing means as we give God glory for His steadfast love and support during this challenging season.
Passages of Scripture to Consider: Psalm 55:22; John 14:27; I Peter 2:24, 4:19
Phase Four – Reconstruction/Reconciliation
During this last phase hope has returned, and we tend to feel more self-confident. With our restored ability to think clearly, we sense that we are once again capable of progressing in life; new achievements are realized.
Coping in Phase Four:
Phase Four tends to bring a desire to look back and assess what we have been through, to better understand how God moved in it all, and we feel motivated to capitalize on the positives that come out of our crisis. Journaling in this final phase can be very enriching, as we look at the positive facets of how God has grown and transformed us through this challenging season. The Bible offers several passages that encourage us to celebrate (i.e., Leviticus 23:44; Psalms 149:5; Ecclesiastes 3:4, 13; Philippians 4:4, etc.), so it is important for us to be intentional and devote time to celebrate our growth. Transformed and energized, this is the time to construct anew in our life. We encourage praying for guidance as to what God would have us do in life with the end results of our crisis.
Passages of Scripture to Consider: Romans 8:28; I Corinthians 13:7; Hebrews 11:1; Revelation 21:3-4
Some final thoughts on this post: Crisis can result in the loss of a love one, which then brings us into a state of bereavement. Processing through a crisis while in bereavement will increase the time required to work through the four phases. While this might seem like an obvious point, we want to normalize the length involved in such cases. Generally, it will take us 18–24 months to work through our bereavement to reach Phase Four, but this depends on many variables (i.e., community support, state of health, type of loss, etc.), for some it may take a shorter amount of time, while others may need more time. The goal is to progress through our crisis and grief in a manner and timing that allows for thoroughness. A pastor/minister/counselor can prove vital in helping us achieve this goal.
In the aftermath of the October 1, 2017 shooting massacre that took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, KCM continues in prayer for the families who lost love ones, as well as for the victims affected, both physically and mentally.
The evil perpetrated by suspected shooter, Stephen Paddock, is both horrifying and far reaching. In an effort to minimize the reach of Paddock’s evil, we at KCM would like to offer some important points for parents to consider.
Few would refute that God's work in (and through) the life of Paul (the apostle) is extraordinary. He was given the name of Saul at birth, approximately 5-10 years after Christ was born, in a place known as Tarsus (modern-day Turkey), into a Jewish family descended from the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5), and sent to Jerusalem at the age of ten to study under Rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 5:34; 22:3). Eventually, Paul worked his way into prominence within the Pharisees (a sect that existed during the days of Christ, known for their rigid adherence to the letter of the law – Acts 26:5, Matthew 23:3, Luke 11:39). As a zealous young man he took it upon himself to persecute followers of Christ (Acts 7:58-8:3). While on his way to Damascus to hunt down more followers, Paul experienced the risen Christ, committed his life to following his Savior (Acts 9:1-19), and became the catalyst used by God to take the gospel message out to the world beyond Israel.
On his second of four missionary journeys, Paul arrived in Philippi (modern-day Greece) sometime around 50A.D. About a decade later we find the apostle imprisoned in Rome where he produces his seminal letter to the church in Philippi: it's central thrust –– work toward having the mind of, knowledge of, and peace of Christ! In Chapter Three, where the apostle makes his appeal for the knowledge of Christ, he asserts the following:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:10-16, NRSV).
This passage comes right on the heels of Paul's warning about the continuing problem of legalism (3:1-9); wherein, the once legalistic but now transformed apostle asserts that true righteousness is received through faith, not by mechanical obedience to any law. His keen mind then shifts into the exceeding excellence found in the knowledge of Christ. Honing-in on the above cited passage, lets examine v. 13:
"Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead..."
Many times over the years our ministers at Kingdom Community Ministries have heard counselees cite this passage as justification for their self-deception. Survivors of abuse have asserted this passage directs them to not think about the impact of what they've suffered; on the other hand, perpetrators of abuse have leaned on this verse to avoid address of their sins; and addicts have told us this verse means whatever damage their addiction has wrought in their life (not to mention the lives of others) is now to be overlooked. In certain respects we understand how people arrive at such conclusions, for the most part these are misperceptions, and, yes, at other times an outright, deliberate attempt to avoid dealing with deep seated pain, guilt, shame, fear, etc. But what was it the Holy Spirit was directing Paul to convey in this particular verse?
To gain clarity let's apply the hermeneutic of lexicology. The apostle originally wrote his letter to the Philippians in the Greek language. The word Paul used for "forgetting" is: epilanthanomai (ep-ee-lan-than'-om-ahee), which means: to lose out of mind. Yes, by implication this word means: to forget, or be forgetful of; however, when interpreting this verse, one would be wise to ask what does it mean to lose out of mind? In effect, to lose is to cease to have or retain. Sin that impacts our life, regardless if it is our own, or the sins of others perpetrated upon us, is always episodic in terms of memory: in other words, memory with retained emotions.
When I think about my wedding day, or the birth of my children, a smile comes to my face because I'm re-experience the joy retained within the memory. When I think about my father's absence on those days (he died of a heart attack when I was two years old) I feel a degree of sadness. But there was a time in my life where the emotions associated with my father's death were so intense and thoroughly overwhelming that I was desperate to stuff away any notion of him. As a result, I remained stuck in my grief for two decades. My efforts to avoid the grief led me into sin (i.e., drugs, promiscuity, and more). Of course, my grief is no excuse for my sin, but, rather, an explanation. In truth, it was all I knew to do to numb my pain, and it was not until I faced my grief that I was able to lose it out of my mind. In other words, reduce the emotional intensity of my pain by paying attention to it, instead of avoiding it.
The Spirit of God, working through the Apostle Paul, afforded him the ability to overcome his legalistic mindset. How did this happen? By God giving Paul the strength and endurance to face this stronghold. But not just any stronghold, no, his drove him to murder. One can only imagine the intense pain of guilt Paul had to work through in order to lose it out of his mind. This did not happen as a result of ignoring his pain. Paul asserts, "...this one thing I do...;" meaning, if he had only learned but one thing in his walk with Christ, it was his need to face the truth about his life, and not just in part, but in total. Clearly, such reflection led Paul to the painful truth, that his sinful ways resulted in the murder of Stephen, one of Jesus' original disciples (Acts 7:54-8:2). Paul's involvement with Stephen's death was not a matter of self-defense; rather, he shed the man's blood because of Stephen's public profession of faith in Christ. Those of us who have not walked in the shoes of Paul can only imagine the intensity of his pain as he wrestled through the guilt of just how depraved his legalistic mind had become.
Certainly, there will be some who read this post and say this is only my interpretation of this passage, and that they interpret it different. I would say to such individuals they are smart to question me on the matter, for I'm asserting something profound here based on only one of the more than 30,000 verses found in the Bible. Thus, allow me to apply the hermeneutic of harmony by looking to other passages of Scripture to see if my interpretation aligns. Consider the following verse:
When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. (Psalm 4:4)
Here, God is directing us through the writings of the psalmist to ponder (i.e., contemplate) the things that disturb us. My father's death was disturbing in the most truest sense. One does not expect a healthy looking, 42 year old father of eight, to die from a sudden heart attack right in front of his wife and children, but that is what happened. Only God knew of my father's arteriosclerotic disease, and when a blockage that had been building in the wall of his artery burst inward the stoppage in blood flow was immediate, and fatal. But how does a person face such immense grief? Not on their own, that's for sure; and not by avoiding it either.
Still, another verse to support the precept of not living a repressed life is:
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:11, NRSV).
We utilize this passage a good deal in our counseling sessions to help counselees wrap their mind around the need to bring a deeply repressed matter out into the light of Christ. I noted earlier there are eight siblings in my family, of which, I am the youngest. I do not recall what age I was, but when I was still young (perhaps 7 or 8), some of my older siblings told us younger sibs that we could never tell anyone that our mother drank alcohol. Because if anyone were to find out, the police might come and take us away, and that we might end up separated into foster homes. As a youngster, the thought of this occurring scared me to no end! I'm sure you can put it together: my mother did not just have the occasional glass of wine, she was a widow mired down in her immense grief who coped by crawling into a bottle. Her drunken tirades were filled with profanity and abuse. I was young but understood the gravity of the situation; as difficult as life was, we feared it might get a lot worse if word got out that our mother was an alcoholic. So I learned to keep the unfruitful works of darkness in the dark. Doing so in no way equated to my pain being loosened out of my mind; rather, the more I tried to avoid the truth, the more my mind seemed gripped around the issue.
Fast-forward about a decade later, when God made provision of treatment for my mother, and the beginning of the loosening of my mind around the grief, dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors. The healing and transformation did not come overnight. It certainly did not come by attempting to forget the traumatic, horrible events of my life. No. The healing and transformation in Christ came when I called on Him to fill me with all that was needed to face the grief, to lean into the pain and press through to the other side. The more I followed the guidance of my counselors and ministers to "ponder" the challenging events of my life, the more I felt the pain. Like a patient with an infected wound being scrubbed-out, and given the proper attention, I began to heal and transform. This was most unlikely to have happen without facing the unresolved issues of my life.
Today, glory to God, my mother has over thirty years sobriety, and I write about these matters with her permission and encouragement. I too have lived a sober adult life, praise Jesus. What's more, God has replaced my sorrow for joy, just as He promised (John 16:20)! What say you? Have you been running from the truth? Is there unresolved pain in your life? If so, I invite you to contact us today, and if not KCM, I pray God directs you to someone who can give you sound, biblical counsel and support.
Dr. Michael Mannia, D.Min. is Co-Founder and President of Kingdom Community Ministries (KCM), and author of The Conditioned Mind: Overcoming The Crippling Effects of Sin and Guilt (CrossLink, 2014). For more information, visit KCM's BIOS page. Dr. Mannia can be reached at 661.324.4070, ext. 301, or email@example.com.
God had a different purpose for Lucifer than the one he chose to follow. As his pride grew, so, too, did his motivation to place himself above the Most High, which resulted in his eviction from heaven. Pride turned to bitterness, and bitterness to hatred. Over time, Lucifer’s hatred transformed him into Satan, the father of lies and the antithesis of Christ Jesus. While God created Lucifer, He also gave him the freedom to choose whose will he would follow. Without a doubt, his choice perverted what our heavenly Father originally intended for His creation. However, the fact that this perversion now exists does not mean God is incapable of dealing with evil. Through systematic theology we come to see that He has already dealt with the issue in His own way and timing. We can rest assured that God is in control and has worked matters out where evil is concerned. All we need do is look to the cross to confirm that our Father has indeed taken care of the issue. God is working out His plan and we must persevere.
Characteristically, Satan is the father of lies, a deceiver, and our adversary in life (John 8:44). If he cannot do away with us altogether, then he will settle for making us minions for his evil intent. Through our encounters with sin, either our own or the sin of others, we are conditioned in ways that unwittingly open the door of our mind for Satan to enter and pervert God’s purpose for our life. In effect, he deceives us by telling us lies. If we do not stay alert we begin to believe what he tells us. Believing our adversary’s lies has devastating effects. At times Satan sets us up for a fall with lies that puff up our pride. Other times he erodes our sense of worth with lies that tell us we’re not good enough. These are but two of a myriad of schemes he employs to divert us from our God-given purpose. Regardless of the approach, his intentions are always the same, to: (1) undo God’s work; (2) make us turn away from our heavenly Father; and (3) instigate evil – all as a means to secure our worship. Our adversary is clever, disguising himself as an angel of light. He is constantly at work to insinuate doubt. He has even been known to misuse Scripture as a means of accomplishing his evil will.
Satan battles for our mind (Romans 7:21-25). Once infiltrated, he then works to steal our peace, kill our hope, and ultimately destroy our ability to carry out the purpose God placed on our life. Because of this, we must work diligently to resist our adversary. To be effective in our efforts we need to change the way we once thought. We must submit our thoughts to the Lord, and be willing to allow God to search our mind, so that He can reveal conditioned modes of thinking and behaving that do not line up with His will. As we gain greater awareness, we can then work toward accepting the truth and lean on the Lord for strength as He works to transform us. Through this process we become conditioned to take thoughts captive for the Lord (II Corinthians 10:5}. We make choices to behave in ways that coincide with the will of our Creator. We stop submitting to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). Putting on the full armor of God, we stand firm on His word and walk in freedom (Ephesians 6:10-17). While the devil continues to prowl around like a roaring lion (I Peter 5:8), with Christ in our life and the Spirit of God living inside of us, we need not fear Satan. Yes, he is a formidable foe, never to be underestimated, but through Christ we are victorious (John 16:33).
Dr. Michael Mannia, D.Min. is Co-Founder and President of Kingdom Community Ministries (KCM), and author of The Conditioned Mind: Overcoming The Crippling Effects of Sin and Guilt (CrossLink, 2014). For more information, visit KCM's BIOS page, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.