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Category Archives: Finding Wellness

Please Don’t “Church” My Mental Health

Please Don't Church My Mental HealthThis title (and topic) has been floating around in my head and heart for quite some time now. Recently, I went to a Stephen Ministries conference where I learned quite a bit about the ministry end of this equation. But let me tell you: I’ve been on the other end too many times to count.

Today, I want to focus on that part of the story. If what I describe in this article has been a way you have personally interacted with someone, please know there is a learning curve. I have a lot of grace for that. I am not writing this to cause any shame.

But I have spent so much of my time, passion, and advocacy on the intersection of faith and mental health, that I can’t sit still and be silent. In fact, my small publishing house, Ground Truth Press, is due to put out a fascinating and very thorough book on this subject in a few months. I am so proud of the author who took the time to try to explain both “subcultures” (for lack of a better word) and why they do not need to remain polarized. She has taken great care to educate both camps on the other’s perspective/viewpoint.

Today’s words are my own, but when she approached me about publishing her manuscript, my soul screamed: YES!

Too much pain, too many misunderstandings, so much disillusionment on the topic of mental health, and I’m sorry, fellow Christians, but I’m referencing the inside of the church.

I’m so pleased to be part of a church body that is very committed to educating its members on mental health inclusion and ministry, but that has not always been the case. I have attended churches with a mindset that was openly hostile toward those struggling with emotional and mental health. I’m sorry to say that in more than four decades of church life, in this arena specifically, I’ve found the most support in secular environments.

I believe this can change. I know it can. In fact, I think the current title of this article can one day change. “Church” as a verb can have a positive connotation. Ministry to this group of fellow sufferers (we all suffer with something, right?) can be righted within the church environment.

How? Read the rest of this entry »

 

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10 Ways Time Together Can Bring Healing

10 Ways Time Together Can Bring HealingI actually wrote this right after Christmas 2018, but I recently revisited because in New England we have a delightful weeklong break in mid-February. You see, if I’m not intentional about the disruptions of everyone being home on break, our time off together can be an epic fail. Know what I mean?

Whether it’s a vacation you have planned, a school break, too many snow days in a row, or a holiday, time together does not have to be chaotic and tense. For our family, we actually needed it to go so far as to be restorative and healing. It was a huge prayer on my heart. If this is you, read on. Our holiday break a few months ago brought peace and refreshing in only ways God could have orchestrated.

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I’m back—I think—for now. My Advent season went off the rails. In short: We are still troubleshooting causation of a significant health decline in one of my children, and we have seen more specialists than I have money for copays—but that’s a story for another day. We may be talking about parasites. Still waiting on that result. Why parasites? Because we spent two years on a tiny island in the South Pacific Third World a decade ago. And my child is not absorbing proteins—which pretty much screws up health on several counts.

We had a good Christmas. I hope you did, too. We are trying some new supplements while we wait out answers, and there was stability and peace. Even so, I simultaneously slapped the back end of 2018 goodbye with a firm “Harrumph!” (Thank you, Urban Dictionary!) while fearing that the New Year would drop us back where we fell around Thanksgiving: fearful, despairing, shaken.

So, as the high schooler and middle schooler went back to school, I found  the quiet to reflect on what worked for us this holiday break. I do this in the hopes that next year, or any year where we need healing, we remember what to do, with any necessary adjustments.

I was going to give this column the title: The Healing Power of Family, but I could not bring myself to do it. It’s not that I don’t find time with my kids and husband to be healing, because I absolutely do. But I also remember times when Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Finding Normal: Recalibrating During and After Crisis

Finding Normal: Recalibrating During and After CrisisThe text came in from a concerned friend:

What are you doing?

Me:

I’m standing in Five Below trying to find normal again.

But the truth is I wasn’t sure if normal would be a thing ever again. It had been a week of scare, upset, worry, and concern that ended in an unexpected diagnosis for one of my children. One medication trial had gone very wrong…the kind of wrong where you stay awake all night staring at God’s created work from your gene pool and wonder: How did we get here? What happened?

Then I remember: Oh that’s right. My genetics slammed us around one more time. Oh, goody. All that stuff I didn’t want to know was in there in the first place was coming back to say: “Hey, Bonnie! I’m ba—ack!”

It almost doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is at this point in my story, does it? For any one of us, it could be cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disease, skin conditions, or any one of assorted mental health disorders. When everything we have fought so hard to understand, be proactive about, and work around comes spitting into our faces, it’s awfully hard to take at times, am I right?

So I stood there in the store of a thousand teen girl room décor items, cheap candy, and toys, and I texted my friend back. The gist of what was going through my mind, although I don’t recall if I typed all of this was: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2019 in Finding Wellness, Walking in Peace

 

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The Biggest Lie: “You Are Alone”

The Biggles Lie_You Are Alone.jpgI was sitting on the lawn chair hearing him crowd out my thoughts. He wanted me to look down at my feet and see how limited they were, how clumsy, how immovable.

He wanted me to stay stuck, frozen, unable to advance an inch—if even to make dinner. Because he loves to tell me this:

“You can’t do this. How on earth will you pull it off? You couldn’t even rescue yourself. You can’t manage this. This family member’s illness is greater than you. It will swallow you whole. And, by the way, you are always worth abandoning. Nobody will be there for you.” 

Over and over again. The whispers. The racing of my mind.

I couldn’t move. Everything felt like an epic fail. As much practice as I’ve had advocating for people in my life with various struggles to get the help that they need, I had hit a brick wall.

All my knowledge. All my connections. All my training. All my experience.

BRICK WALL.

Over the course of many months of trying to troubleshoot a medical problem in our lives, all related side dishes of comorbid conditions piled up like unfinished moldy fare at a banquet. The heavier the pile, the harder to see the real issue. Know the feeling?

This could really be about anything physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional in our lives, right? That great overwhelm?

And when we stare at that pile-up of complications and other nonsense, the face walking across the water toward us, reaching out a hand, calling us to trust is hard to see, right?

Then along comes the Read the rest of this entry »

 

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