I don’t believe I have talked to anyone in the last six months who has not communicated some level of emotional struggle or tension. The pandemic, the political environment and social unrest have put an incredible strain on every aspect of our lives: socially, economically, relationally, educationally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
We have been pressed, stressed and stretched beyond anything we thought we could endure. Those who have struggled with emotional issues have found the struggles greater. Those who have not struggled are finding themselves struggling for the first time. Our mental health seems under attack, and yet there are opportunities that allow us to explore what God has created in us “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
Take for example Steve, who couldn’t really find the balance of work and home. When the pandemic hit, Steve held on to his job by working from home. Steve discovered a rhythm and routine to get his work done plus spend time helping his kids with their schoolwork or playing at the park, which took some of the load off of his wife while building a much greater connection to his kids. He also discovered that he really liked to cook and started doing more creative meal prep that also helped the family be healthier.
Or Diane, who always saw herself as an extrovert and thought for sure that quarantine was going to kill her. Although it was not always positive, Diane discovered an enjoyment for solitude and has recovered a love of painting that has proven therapeutic. She also discovered several new avenues to develop her personal relationship with God, including journal praying, word studies and practicing God’s presence, which have brought new life to her relationship with God.
But to be completely honest, most of us have experienced impacts that have taken a negative toll on us. We are more anxious, angry, fearful, frustrated, disappointed, depressed, brokenhearted and just troubled than ever before. There seems to be more conflict and a lot of the conflict seems to be internal, like we are fighting with ourselves.
With all the struggles, we have discovered aspects of ourselves that we are pretty unfamiliar with and even uncomfortable with. There are aspects of myself that I knew were there, but now I recognize them, and I frankly don’t like them.
So what do we do with these discoveries, these dimensions to who we are? Well, we can ignore them and hope they go away (that doesn’t work), we can fight against them and create even more internal conflict, or we can lean into the discovery of parts of us and see if we can find out what God wants us to learn about the ways that He has designed us. We can discover that even the less positive parts of us can bring value to our whole person.
This may seem like a strange approach, but if your curiosity is at all pricked by this description, then I would like to invite you to join us for a six-week workshop called Looking Inside, where we will learn how to calm the chaos and conflict inside by giving God more access to who we are. As we come out of the stressors, let’s take the opportunity to discover God’s best design of even our not-so-favorite parts so all of us can work in collaboration and resolve the external conflicts together.
The workshop begins Thursday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m. after the Blankenbaker Campus worship service and will run through May 13. We will meet in the Upper Fellowship Hall. No registration is needed and childcare is available. If you have questions, please contact Linda Allen at email@example.com.