By Kae Tritle, RN Well-being Coordinator
In the past few months and particularly this past week, we have been pounded by several storms; literally, emotionally, physically, relationally, and spiritually. Our lives and our emotions have been pummeled with several issues; mostly related to the impact of the COVID-19 virus including jobs, health, schools for our children, loss of in-person connections, loss of spiritual connections, financial effects, community diversity issues, and now the brunt force of a state-wide wind storm. Can we bear anything more?
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they
shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and
the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your
Savior… Do not fear, for I am with you”
Isaiah 43: 1b-3a, 5a NRSV
When I feel that everything is against me, I turn to this passage. God is with us, particularly in the midst of turmoil and all that is bearing down upon us. We can lean on and trust the Lord. But even with that promise—we want someone with skin on, an actual person, who listens, cares, and comforts us within life’s turbulence.
Here are some practical strategies for coping when you feel rocked by the disorder around you:
- Keep connecting with each other through phone, e-mail, messaging, mail, and video-group calls. Really listening and caring for each other helps immensely as we share ways in which we are coping. All of us need a group of people who can see us through our struggles.
- Set-up e-mail prayer chains. Knowing that we are praying for each other gives comfort as well as strength.
- Recognize and admit that you need help. We are finite humans who often have limited inner and practical resources. Overcome your fear of expressing the need for help. When needs are expressed, caring and assistance can be offered. You then realize that you are not alone and there is hopefulness.
- Use community resources before you reach a breaking point: counseling services, local crisis centers, mental health hot-lines, or employee assistance services provided by your employers.
- For our clergy families, this is Employee and Family Services at 800.327.4692 or www.efr.org. This connects you with a counselor and access to other services. Our clergy and their families are also finite humans.
- Lean on and practice your faith, both personally and communally. There are strength and power in our spiritual resources. Worship, prayer, music, journaling, and reading scripture all are helpful in expressing and handling your emotions.
- Spend time in God’s nature. Yes, it is a little beat-up right now, but the sun is shining and the birds are singing. My spouse and I like to take a picnic lunch out to a county or state park for Sabbath time. We spend time away from the immediate issues, focus on the landscape, each other, and let God relax us. Life then seems to be more manageable.
C. Tindley wrote, “When the storms of life are raging, stand by me. When the world is tossing me, like a ship upon the sea, thou who rulest wind and water; stand by me.”
(512 UMC Hymnal)
I hope that you are inviting both others and God to help you with the struggles of life.