This six-part series and additional resources are provided through the work of Iowa Conference Parish Development.
We’ve all heard the instructions from a whole line of folks including the airline attendant and the self-help guru, “Put your own oxygen mask on first.” If you’re out of oxygen, energy, the desire to keep moving, it is not possible to walk with anyone else on any kind of journey, literal or figurative. As hard as it is to admit we’ve disconnected from God and others, it’s even more difficult to imagine that we could lose ourselves in a matter of a few months’ time. Or was it really such a short amount of time? Did we indeed start moving away from our own selves and the critical needs we need to thrive even in the best of times, well before March of 2020? Have the events of the last months simply sped up the process of an unhealthy ignorance of our own needs?
“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18 NRSV
Once we figure out that there are pieces of ourselves with great chasms of open acreage, we must be extra careful of what that space is filled with. As much as the next great thing sounds, as much as we long to just ignore the emptiness and escape into a land of blind movement forward, we do ourselves and our Creator a disservice in not reaching for the O2 that will save our lives from being less than authentic, faith filled people. If we search our hearts honestly, we find we long for our hearts, minds, body and souls to be healed in many contexts. We look to a day when we see ourselves as God sees us; whole and loved. In a world that looks so very different, our prayers arise to accept where we are and reflect on God’s past faithfulness for what is yet to be, not in blind obedience, but in faith filled living.
In his book, Soul Reset: breakdown, breakthrough, and the journey to wholeness, the late Junius B. Dotson explained stepping away from that overwhelmed space back into a place of health. “…the key is drinking deeply from the well of Living Water. The key is connectedness to God who sustains, heals, redeems, and restores. The key is a regular rhythm of spiritual practice…The key is listening to your body as it tells you what it needs from you regarding nutrition and fitness. The key is listening to the Spirit who tells you to slow down and to set down your heavy burdens.”(p. 48) What are you carrying that you need to set down in order to reconnect with the things that make you, you? Are you listening to the you that is yearning to escape the overwhelming moments, events, or days? Step away. Reset.
That’s easy to say, but not so easy to do! We see the to-do list, hear the voices calling our name to do more – to be more, we feel the pull in a million directions and we can’t comprehend the meaning of step away or reset. In order to do those two things we have no choice but to be vulnerable to allow healing to happen, to open ourselves to the ridicule of those around us who see vulnerability as weakness instead of strength. In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown shares, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” (p. 37) Do you have someone you feel safe with, or could feel safe with, that you are able to create a covenant relationship with? Trusting each other with your own vulnerabilities? Sharing feelings, experience, hopes, and fears to build each other up. Do you have a counselor that is available in your area or nearby, who you can share your sense of being overwhelmed, the lost-ness of this time and space of your experience, and ask for guidance on next steps?
Where we are now, we never imagined we would be, so why would we prepare ourselves for these times? However in that transition between the known and the unknown we have lost pieces of ourselves that require us to step back and take stock; step away, reset. In the midst of your search for the next space to step, make sure not to neglect the reconnection to self. A place where you become reconnected, a place you remember the healing love of God. Open yourself to you. Open your arms wide. Run. Envelop yourself in your own love. Reset. Be blessed.
As we share what we hope are some helpful tools or resources, know that we are very aware that we are all at different places at different times in whatever process we are moving through. This includes times of healing, moving forward or sitting just a bit longer in the sacred space you are currently experiencing. Know we are here to assist you and your faith community as you move through phases of reconnection, however or whenever that may occur.
Next week you will find a reflection on reconnecting with Others. We welcome the sharing of your reflections and experiences concerning relationships of every kind in this unique time in our lives. Also welcomed, would be your suggestions concerning how Iowa Conference Parish Development, or other resource, might be able to help you through this time of Reconnecting Our Relationships.
Read previous On the Way Back Together messages here.