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Below this is the full text of Pastor John's article
I don't know about you, but there have been multiple times in the last eight months when I've wanted to tell whoever is listening that "I'm through with 2020, can I get off the bus until 2021?"
I'm going on 15 years in ministry, and I can safely say that this has been the most challenging year of that time. For all of us, on many different levels, we have been stressed and grieved and pushed in ways that we couldn't ever imagine before.
With that in mind, I want you to do something right now. Take a moment and evaluate how you're doing, especially your mental health. As you do this, be honest with yourself.
What are you feeling?
Are you experiencing emotions you aren't used to?
Do the smallest things annoy you or make you angry for irrational reasons?
How are you coping?
Have you developed new healthy habits?
Have you developed new unhealthy habits?
How is your overall health?
These are not an exhaustive list of questions, but are a start. As you go through this process, are you happy or unhappy with your responses? The next most important question to ask yourself is, do you have someone that you can talk to about this? It may even be a few folks.
If you do, that's good and very helpful. If you don't, it's time to find a someone to talk to. This doesn't mean you need to go find a psychiatrist's couch to lie on, but someone you trust. It also doesn't have to be a formal thing. I have a few folks that I talk to on a regular basis, and it's just an informal gathering of friends, but its also the place that we know we can talk to each other and work our way through this time.
I'm bringing this up now for a couple of reasons. The first is that we still have a long way to go through our current pandemic crisis, and also through our more local tragedy. We need to do what we can to make our way through this, and keep our strength up for the remainder of the journey.
The second thing is that at the end of this month we'll be participating in a virtual mental health conference. This comes from the Rural Connections Conference, and we'll have video sessions through the day covering a wide range of topics. Later in the newsletter you can find a full list of them You'll also find registration instructions if you want to join in person, or at home.
In Worship recently we set up a different worship space. We did that to mark our sharing of communion as different and important. I would encourage you to do something similar on your own. Remember it doesn't have to be complicated. It can be as simple as a lighting a candle and taking dedicated time to be present with God. You can pray, read scripture, watch a sermon, read a Christian book, something that connects you and the space to God.
As we go through this time, we all need that space. Even Jesus went off on his own to pray on a regular basis. Finding that space gives us time to process and recharge for the world we are a part of right now.
And always remember that I'm around to talk, share a up of coffee, or even take a walk around the park if you need to get out.
While the times are challenging, God has helped us find a community of faith that we use to support each other as we go through it.