There are a couple of things that have been on my heart lately. I’ve been saying them to each of you in every phone call, every board retreat, every staff start up I’ve been doing, but I feel the need to say it broadly, to all of you. Here are the truths I wish to give you right now:
- This sucks. Flat-out. We are dealing with a situation we didn’t sign up for. We are forced to solve problems that no one prepared us for. We live in a constant state of unease and disruption. It’s terrible. The last time we felt optimistic about the possibility of gathering again, our hopes were dashed with rising rates. As cases are on the decline once again, it is very natural to feel apprehension. That is the trauma surfacing in our bodies, and it’s going to keep us on edge for a long while. I just want to take a moment to recognize how much it all just...sucks.
- There is nothing wrong with you. I know it feels like everything is wrong with you, but I assure you, it isn’t YOU who is wrong, it is the world. You are not fundamentally broken, and we are all stumbling our way through each day. Everyone is having a hard time right now, and no one is doing it better than you are. We need to stop behaving as if everything is normal and we should be able to go about our functioning as if everything is fine.
- Since there is nothing wrong with you, nothing will fix you. There is no workshop, training, or webinar that is going to take the anxiety out of your congregation. People are short, on edge, and easily hurt. I know that you want anything to take the pain away, but that is mere distraction. All feelings are for feeling, and right now, this is difficult. We will find our way through together.
- Don’t turn on each other, turn to each other. We’re all we’ve got. Give everyone else the grace you need. Everyone experiences hurt, but trauma is only caused when we experience hurt alone. The anxiety and unease we feel makes us short with one another, and we look to conflict to release the pressure that we feel. But if we resist this urge, we can lean into one another and become communities of support and resilience.
- You don’t have to do anything. Nothing is required. The ONLY thing we have to do right now is take care of one another, and the ONLY decisions we need to make deal with how we best do that. Our only obligation is to love one another. An easy escape from the pain we feel is to take on a bunch of projects and to attempt to plan a large slate of programming. You’ll soon find that you are halfway into the plan and cannot maintain it, which may cause your congregation to see itself as having failed, thus creating more overwhelm. You don’t have to do ANYTHING. You don’t have to worship, have RE, meet as a board, or ANYTHING.
- We love you, and we’re sorry. Your Southern Region Staff is here for you. We love each one of you, and we are in the mess with you. Please call us often. We are your partners.