Keep your raft upright!

Raft about to punch a large wave-hole on the O...

Raft about to punch a large wave-hole on the Ottawa River in Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve never been whitewater rafting — not quite that adventurous.  But I have been on a simple floating raft, and I know one important thing– if you want to keep your raft upright, you need to maintain the proper balance.  The weight of the various people on the raft must be distributed evenly.  Even a slight movement of one person to a new position on the raft requires the others to adjust accordingly.  If not…the raft becomes unstable.  And…if everyone were to suddenly move to one side of the raft to surround one person  — well, everyone would go down with the “ship.”

Building and maintaining a healthy family requires the same balance.  When a crisis hits a family — whether it be the sudden death of a family member, a terrifying diagnosis, addiction, struggles with PTSD or mental illness, or any number of other troubles that people can experience — the natural response is to rush all the love, support, energy, and resources to the person in the family who is in need.  And, of course, this makes sense.

But I have learned the hard way over the years that there must be a counterbalance.  When my husband was in the midst of his active addiction and when his PTSD symptoms and depression sent him reeling in a frightening downward spiral, all of the attention and resources of the family were focused on him.  No one else’s needs mattered — not mine, not even our childrens’.   Everyone centered around my husband’s very real needs, but to the absolute detriment of the rest of the family.  My children and I suffered greatly, and some of that damage will take years to undo.  I became extremely sick myself because I didn’t keep a balance and didn’t take care of myself.  You see…when everyone in a family “moves to one side of the raft” to help a sick or hurting loved one and they linger there for any length of time, everyone — even the healthy ones– will inevitably go under.  No family or relationship can sustain itself in such an unbalanced fashion.

So what’s the answer?  Depending on the circumstances of your crisis, there are several options.  One is to remain steady where you are and give the sick person the space they need to deal with their issues — let the weightless spirit of God rush to the person’s aid while you hold your position and pray.  If the person is far too unhealthy to figure things out on his own, then another option is to find a support system — a “counter-balance” on your raft.  You need to ask for help, invite people to come alongside you, people who can “hold down the raft” with you (or for you) while you attend to the needs of your loved one.  With these counterweights in place, your ship will not sink, and you will be able to do what you need to do without fear of sinking into the rocky waters.   And sometimes, when even the first two options aren’t enough,  it might just be necessary to remove the sick person from the raft for a while — perhaps so he can go to treatment, enter a hospital, sober up, etc.  Removing the sick person will require some adjustments on the “raft,” but this will be far less traumatic than “flipping the boat” and watching everyone in the family flounder.

The moral of the story?  Take care of yourself, so you can take care of your loved one.  Keep your raft upright…Don’t let everyone go down with the ship!

What are some things you do to keep balance in your life and take care of yourself amid the storms of life?

English: A group of people participating in a ...

English: A group of people participating in a grade 3 Whitewater Rafting Trip along the Kampar River, Gopeng, Perak. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8 Comments on “Keep your raft upright!”

  1. We so often forget that God WANTS to carry the load. Our ego-centered brain tells us to “fix it” ourselves. Our Spirit-centered brain says to let God take the weight. How inspiring to see you spread the message of hope and healing.

  2. Pingback: Finding a Balance in Second Marriages and Family Relationships | Social Behavioral Patterns–How to Understand Culture and Behaviors

  3. Just like they tell you when you get on a plane-your oxygen mask needs to be in place before you can help others. Such a hard thing to remember when you are a wife, mother, teacher. You have that auto response that you should care for everyone else first, that is your instinct, but you need to stop and be centered ( or balanced) first. Great reminder for any caregiver.

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