Written by Guest Columnist, and all-around delightful human being, Britney Stone
[EDITORIAL NOTE: This article was originally shared in conjunction with a sermon given to our online community on August 2, 2020. You can view that sermon by using the link to our LiveStream. The sermon begins at the 42 minute mark]
As a therapist, I’ve spent some time reflecting on and actively treating mental health issues over this quarantine and I’m channeling my inner Coach Taylor now more than ever (Friday Night Lights, anyone?). We got through the last few months, phew. We adapted to something that none of us saw coming, man was that hard. We coped in one way or another. Whatever the next phase looks like, we are coming out of this as different people. And team, we have work to do.
We have all lamented the one, two, or maybe 157 things quarantine robbed from us. But I’ve noticed one of the things we lost was the veil that we used to cover vulnerable parts of ourselves. Maybe your veil was covering a fear or insecurity, depression, anxiety, or an addiction or anger. You name it, we all have one (or four). We used busyness, sports, pride, jobs, money, all veils to cover up those vulnerable parts and hide them away from others and ourselves. But for some of us, quarantine life took that veil and we can no longer fully cover the wound behind it. It doesn’t take a therapist to see that irritability and controlling behaviors are rampant, addiction and marital discord is raging and our country’s mental health is suffering enormously. Those veils were taken away and for some of us we are left exposed, open, hurting or even hurting others. What was behind the veil was not pretty. But we can do hard things.
Here is the thing: Without momentum, most people don’t change. In the last ten weeks I bet every single one of us has had to adapt or pivot, we have backslid or we have flourished but we have been changing. So, here is a hint…continue to change. But this time, let this change be your choice, and for the better. That wound (or wounding) behavior behind the veil: you can change that. God can change that.
If you need a push in the right direction, here are some simple ideas to start with:
–Be honest with yourself
Write down the areas you want to change. What area needs some attention? Commit to thinking about it, then commit to praying about it, then commit to working on it.
-Be honest with someone else
Join millions of people in the journey back to connectedness. Reach out. Vulnerability is attractive and it can bring people together in ways those carefully placed veils could not.
-Choose to act determined and talk like a coach
Sometimes, when we are limping after a hard season we struggle to pull ourselves into action. This is when you can practice being your own coach. Get strong, get positive, get inspirational and get down to business. Practice saying it, practice believing it, practice doing it. You can do hard things.
-Need an expert? Get one.
We aren’t all parenting experts, we aren’t all financial coaches or spiritual mentors or therapists or addiction counselors, or mechanics. Why should you struggle alone to fix something that requires expert care? You are not alone, and there are so many resources now for any type of help. Reach out, ask around, be brave, be vulnerable.
-Evaluate your energy and your focus
Give yourself some extra energy by doing something good for your body, your mind and for someone else today. What are the top 5 things taking the most of your energy? Are they worth it? Are they working or changing your life in any way? Be honest and evaluate, then be kind to yourself and make changes as you see fit.
-See yourself through God’s eyes
Do you believe God is cheering for you even when you’ve messed up a hundred times? Do you believe when you fall down He looks around at the angels and says, “Don’t worry, he is going to get this!” Do you believe Hehas a plan for you to be exactly where you are at this moment, and for your path to intersect with some other soul who needs your words, encouragement, and life? You matter, and you have a purpose. If you can’t imagine God thinking of you in that way find someone who can and ask for them to share and pray with you.