Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rebuilding After Loss, Part Two - Assessment

"I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on" (Nehemiah 2: 12) NIV

The Wisdom of Assessment

A fellow pastor I know enjoys rock climbing with his son.  After getting valuable experience, they decided to tackle a particularly difficult climb -- their biggest challenge yet.  They decided to obtain an expert guide to assist them.  

Before they actually attempted the climb, the guide took them to a nearby vantage point so they could assess their challenge one piece at a time before engaging it. "The first segment of the climb will be hard", the expert told them as he drew their attention to the lower parts of the mountain.  "But we'll rest there and get ready for the next part", he added as he identified a small resting place.

The guide then pointed out the next segment of the climb. It would be much more difficult.  He went through it with them bit-by-bit until they all understood the strategy they would use to complete it.  Another resting point was identified. 
The third segment was very, very hard.  My friend later reported that he was pretty sure he would not be able to complete it.  Their guide assured them that they were up to the task but it would take everything they had.  Once again, they reviewed each part of that final climb in detail before they struck out to begin.

Taking Time to Assess

In our hurry to escape the pain, anxiety, or discouragement that follows grief, loss and major reversals; we may be tempted to skip the assessment phase of the rebuilding process. This can actually delay our progress.  Both Nehemiah and the rock climbing expert model the importance of first making a good assessment of the challenges we are facing before diving in.

A good assessment is holistic and includes the spiritual, emotional, physical and relational aspects of rebuilding after loss.  We need to look carefully at what it will take to restore our sense of spiritual balance.  Nothing is more fundamental to a good recovery than a clear sense of the presence of God and His promises to us in Christ.

A thorough assessment of our emotions is also in order. Are we emotionally over or under reacting?  Are we managing stress, anxiety and grief reasonably well?

Physically, we need to pay attention to our sleeping and eating habits.  If these have changed much in either direction (noticeably more eating or sleeping or noticeably less), we would do well to take note.  We will need our best physical resources to manage the overall task ahead.

Finally, we must properly assess our relationships.  Who do we have who can be present to our process with us in a helpful way? Who do we need to add to that list?

Once we have undergone a good assessment of the rebuilding process, the overall advances will be much greater than if we rush to rebuild too quickly.  
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"Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.  I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work” (Nehemiah 2:17, 18)

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