One of the foremost memories I have of my honeymoon is my wife nearly choking to death on a crumb on a flight to Cairns. We were having our evening meal en route to paradise and I happened to say something humorous at the wrong time; combine that with some water down the wrong pipe and it was instant trouble for both of us. All my years of industrial first aid and emergency response put to the immediate test—two days into my marriage—in an unfamiliar environment. I failed dismally. Going for the ‘five sharp blows between the shoulder blades,’ I completely forgot the more appropriate first need to get the “patient” to lean forward, relax and calmly swallow. My first response was a panic. We were fortunate we had some very poised flight attendants who intervened.
Then recently my wife went to unlock the boot of the car, but with the central locking set up the way it is, the car alarm sounded as if to spring an intruder. (It does this if the correct sequence isn’t followed.) With the horn blaring and my wife tearing her hair out, I stepped in to rectify the situation. This time it was me responding calmly in the ‘face of danger.’
There’s a principle of life response illustrated by both these examples. Our faith response is tested most especially when we’re berated with fear.
To make this clearer we’re all placed in situations of panic—it’s the nature of life to expose us. We don’t know why; it just is. At times we’re strong and we hardly think of anything but the right level of response. Yet, at other times we don’t function at all well—we stumble and fall—not seeing the way through and not even having an awareness at the time or the courage required for poise in that moment.
Engaging our first response gear is having the emotional distance and the spiritual proximity, our rational minds informing, empowering us in the moment of confusion and struggle—calmness in the period of storm.
I’ll always remember the theory in responding to an incident—the power of recovering the situation as it unfolds—mitigating the amount of potential damage. The same goes for our cognitive, emotional and spiritual lives—our wellbeing. As the tumult unfolds we calmly and astutely resolve it in the best manner we can.
A quick, effective and calm response will see us safely over the line. It’s the faith response that defies our rational understanding—it just is. When we feel least capable, in faith, we get through. Go figure. Yet, it works consistently every time it’s applied.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.