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Turning the Page

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Empowering your Mental Health - Faith: Hope: Love with Barry Pearman
51 Episodes
It was tasting the dust of devastation. The broken pieces. But those fragments can be brought together, and so we quietly form a new mosaic Broken pieces. That’s all that was left behind. It was a moment that captured the world’s attention. A massive explosion of ammonium nitrate brought a city to be a pile of rubble. But amidst the dust 79-year-old May Abboud Melki, played Auld Lang Syne on her piano in her broken apartment. Playing in her pain. She then went on to play Arabic hymns, which caused those around her to gather around and start worshiping. “To see her lean into her faith, lean into God was something that was a strong message to her community and our family immediately”May-Lee Melki –  granddaughter. Most of us will never have to face the type of devastation caused by such an explosion. But it could be an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, flood, bush-fire that brings us to a place of picking up the pieces. As you read this tap into the emotions of loss. Something has swept through your life and now it’s like everything has been turned upside down, shaken around, and thrown to the four corners of the universe. You are left with a few fragments from which to rebuild. Broken pieces As part of my devotional life, I find it helpful to meditate on scripture. One of the ways I do this is through the ancient art of Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina asks the listener to be quiet and listen to a passage of scripture and allow God to speak to you personally through this. I use a podcast called Daily Lectio Divina.  One of the readings this week was about the feeding of the 5000 by Jesus. The miraculous turning of a few loaves of bread and some fish into a banquet for the multitude. At the very end of the story is the mention of the cleanup crew. and they took up what was leftover of the broken pieces. Matthew 14:20 I could see all those people fanning out and collecting the scraps. There would be joy, amazement, and songs of thankfulness. But I wanted to know what they did with all those pieces of fish and bread. Did they get creative and make some sort of fish cake? They didn’t have freezers to store it for later use so perhaps they gave it away. I think that’s what they probably did. As they traveled along, following Jesus, they told the story and shared the bread and fish. They, and others feasted on the leftovers, the broken pieces. We like nice stories It’s a nice Jesus story, isn’t it. Everyone is happy. Full stomachs and the needs of the heart met. We like it like that, don’t we. For Jesus, there were thousands of happy people following him. Ministerial success! He was now the leader of a mega-church! Yet, a few years later, after walking a very narrow path of crushing discipleship only a few friends remained. I wonder sometimes how long Jesus would last in our modern PC church world. Political Correctness and Pastoral Correctness might just see him excommunicated while the good people continue to sing him their happy songs. Your broken pieces Life is full of broken pieces. Leftovers after a storm of life. The marriage fails, a child dies, cancer rages through the body. You’re made redundant after years of faithful service. No longer needed. A pandemic sweeps through your village. You sit and look at all the shards of debris and grandma moves to the piano. She’s been there before. She knows the grit and grind of what life is actually all about. There is a time to lament and mourn and there is a time to pick up the pieces. What prompted the nudge? As I pondered over the passage I wondered why Spirit (Holy) gave Matthew the nudge to write this little facet of the story down. Perhaps God wanted us to know how amazing the miracle was in that there was so much leftover. Or might it be that God wanted us to know that there was a divine interest in the broken pieces? Those little things that most would discard as being worthless. The scraps of our lives. Your broken pieces, those things that might seem as leftovers and trash to most, may just have a purpose as you rebuild out of the devastation. The pieces of a jigsaw puzzle might come together and form a new mosaic. A picture of new beauty. Mosaic of beauty Years ago I had the opportunity to visit the ancient city of Ephesus. It was a city of ruins, but it was also a city where I knew the apostle Paul had walked and talked. As we walked down the streets our guide called us over to the sidewalk. He then took his water bottle out and squirted some water onto the pavement. With the dust washed off a beautiful mosaic appeared. Ancient colors burst out from under the dirt and washed us with delight. Broken pieces, of various colors, all arranged into a pattern. Someone, thousands of years before, had collected some broken pieces and with Spirit-led, creative celebration, made art for us to enjoy. Your gift is … As you have read this you may well have been nudged about the broken pieces in your life. I hope so. What is the invite God is whispering to you? Can you pick up a few broken pieces and form them into a mosaic that might help you make sense of it all. Do it slowly with a sense that this artwork can take as long as it needs to take. There is no rush or demand to perform to anyone, including yourself. Your broken piece artwork may be the gift another person is needing to savor off in their broken world experience. The challenge is whether you are willing to look at your broken pieces, own them and their pain, and then invite the Jesus of miracles to come and co-create a new mosaic.   Mental Health is ... acknowledging the broken pieces in our lives and then, with Spirit-led creative design, join them together as a gift to yourself and others.CLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider Can my world ever be rebuilt? Do I have any value? Can I be useful again? Is there life after failure? My answer is yes. That is what grace is all about. A marvelous, forgiving, healing grace says that all things can be new. Gordon MacDonald Tell Moses, Zechariah and Elizabeth, and St. Paul that the broken-world experience is an addendum, an add-on, to life. Tell them that pressure, failure, and embarrassment are not part of the course of human development and maturation. They simply won’t agree. They will say that sorrow, pain, and stress are the “graduate school” of godly character and capacity if people are willing to enroll. The problem, they may suggest, is that this school has too many no-shows and dropouts. Gordon MacDonald In pain, failure, and brokenness, God does His finest work in the lives of people. Gordon MacDonald If the church has a future it is a future with the poor in whatever form.—Henri Nouwen  Brokenness is a condition, one that is always there, inside, beneath the surface, carefully hidden for as long as we can keep a facade in place. We live in brokenness. We just don’t always see it, either in ourselves or in others. Larry Crabb A central task of community is to create a place that is safe enough for the walls to be torn down, safe enough for each of us to own, and reveal our brokenness. Larry Crabb Questions to answer Where have you had a broken world experience? There is a time for everything. How much time do we allow ourselves or give permission to ourselves to own the fact that we have broken pieces? What would be an example in your life where a few broken pieces have come together to form a mosaic of beauty? Further reading Barry Pearman Photo by Sabine van Straaten on Unsplash
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage through our lives, but perhaps simple wisdom could save the world. The most important thing is people. In January, I could see that it was going to be war. It was going to be a battle for our lives. This was the attitude I had to have about the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the enemy was unseen to the naked eye. Perhaps my realization was strengthened by having just read a biography of Sir Winston Churchill (The Character and Greatness of Winston Churchill: Hero in a Time of Crisis by Stephen Mansfield). Still, I knew that the world was about to experience a war that would test everything and everyone. Some questions came to mind. Would leaders lead with humility and resolve? Would people listen to their leaders? What political structures will be revealed as flawed? Which leaders would prioritize dollars, politics, and the economy before the health of people? Will we love our neighbor as we love ourselves? Who will be wise but quickly forgotten? Who will be unwise and be remembered forever? You can answer those questions yourself. The poverty of wisdom in COVID-19 Today I read these lines from musician Bruce Cockburn. Every day in the paperyou can watch the numbers riseNo such event can overtake us here,we’re much too wise.Radium Rain – Bruce Cockburn I thought, ‘Wow, this so describes our times’. Numbers of deaths on the increase, but still some people think that they’re ‘much too wise’ to be vulnerable. I watched a protest march on T.V. the other night. Thousands of people angry about losing some of their rights. They were being forced, by law, to wear masks in public places. It seems that they considered themselves ‘much too wise’. By the way, ‘Radium Rain‘ was written by Bruce a few days after the Cheynoble explosion back in 1986, and he was pointing out to the west the foolishness of thinking that a Chernobyl event could never happen in their backyard. There is an arrogance in the heart that demands personal rights without considering the responsibilities of being human in a community with others. The kindness of a mask  A self-centered view of life says that the mask is to prevent contracting the virus from other people. It’s all about me—an addiction to the self. ‘Incurvatus in se’ – turned/curved inward on oneself. Whereas a community-centered approach sees things differently A community-centered view of life says that the mask might prevent others from contracting the virus if I unknowingly have it. It’s about others. Compassion and thoughtfulness. Care and wisdom. So we wash our hands, we use hand gel, we keep our distance, and we wear a mask because we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We lead by example. Being a wise leader You are a leader. One of my all-time favorite Bible stories is the short story of a poor but wise man that saved a small city. I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it, and built huge siegeworks against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man.  So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” Ecclesiastes 9:14-16 Wherever you live, you are part of a small town. It could be as small as the group of people you live with—your family, husband, wife, flatmates. Small as a tight community. That’s where we start to be leaders and exhibit wisdom. It starts in small places where we have personal control. You, in your small town, have the power to make the difference. Leadership is influence, so you lead by example. He Tangata. We have a Maori proverb here in New Zealand. He aha te mea nui?He tangata.He tangata.He tangata. What is the most important thing?It is people,it is people,it is people. Perhaps COVID-19 is a huge wakeup call to reassess our wisdom. We think we are gods with our 21st-century modern technology and knowledge, yet we are mere dust. If you want to beat COVID-19 you need to ask yourself this question ‘What is the most important thing?’ and I hope you say it is people, it is people, it is people. It is your neighbor, your friend, your loved ones. You wear a mask for them.   Mental Health is ... knowing that the most important thing in the world is people.  He tangata. He tangata. He tangata.CLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider If you imagine you are better, holier, higher, more important to God than others, it is a very short step to justified arrogance or violence toward those others. Richard Rohr Any spirituality that does not lead from a self- centered existence to an other-centered mode of existence is bankrupt. Brennan Manning The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer  Questions to answer Do you think the world as a whole sees themselves as ‘much too wise’? What is happens when we have an attitude of pride and arrogance? Who are the people, think the small town, you can lead by example? Further reading Photo by Pille-Riin Priske on Unsplash Barry Pearman
We can live warped lives because of a shadow hanging over us, but that shadow can be removed if we face what’s causing the shadow and allow the light to flood in. Have you ever walked in a shadow? Of course you have, but you probably didn’t take much notice of it. We do it all the time. What about filtered light? Light that has been defused and filtered as it has passed through clouds. Again yes. We don’t notice it because we are used to it. It’s commonplace and the norm. Taking this metaphor a little further, we all live with a certain amount of shadows affecting our lives. What I am talking about are the shadows from the past. Shadows She is a grown adult woman, but she can still hear the voice of her father berating her. What about the man who never knew the fullness of a mother’s love, now the shadow invites him online. They and we grow used to the ambiance of the diffused light. It’s all we have ever known. Sure, at times, we get a glimpse of sunlight, of something different, but it’s so different that we don’t know what to do with it. We scurry back into the shadow. It’s safe. Normal and familiar. The Beetles sang ‘There’s a shadow hanging over me’ and the rock-solid belief in the power of ‘yesterday’. Plant in full light At the moment, I am pruning fruit trees. One of the trees I am pruning is an apple tree, but it’s on a lean. Not from the wind, or from being hit by some object, but because it’s hungry for light. Right above the tree, hang the branches of a large gumtree. Barry having dangerous fun!This larger tree casts its shadow over the apple, and the tree compensates to seek out the light. I really should cut the gum tree down. It would be quite a job, and to cut it down from the base would cause it to crash on the apple tree and destroy it. I would need to get a cherry picker and go up into the tree and cut it down section by section. I’ve done this sort of thing before. It’s kind of dangerous but so rewarding when you get to see the results of more light flooding into the garden. Turning to see The cause of the problem shadow will only be seen when we look at what is causing the shadow. I can look at the apple tree all day long and not solve the problem. It’s only when I turn my gaze and see what might be shadowing it will I come to an understanding. When we come to experience the full light, when we turn and see that which has its shadow on us, it can be like a gum tree has landed on us. For some of us, that’s what is needed. A deeply religious man, Saul, was one of those who had a light shattering moment. All this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill. He went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascus so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem. He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?” He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next.”  His companions stood there dumbstruck—they could hear the sound, but couldn’t see anyone—while Saul, picking himself up off the ground, found himself stone-blind. They had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. He continued blind for three days. He ate nothing, drank nothing. Acts 9:1-9 Saul thought he had been walking in the light. That he had been doing what God would have wanted him to do, yet he was in the darkest of shadows. The shadow of religiosity. Black and white, rules, and regulations, religion, and self-righteousness. What casts its shadow on you? This is an important work. Examing the shadows that are still haunting over you today. We all have them, and it requires a turning and looking up and back. What is casting that shadow? Is it the shadows of others gone long before? Generational shadows passed down from generation to generation. Maybe it was a parent, family member that hurt you. They may not even be aware of the infraction. Children are excellent recorders of their experiences but poor interpreters. David Riddell Perhaps its a shadow of something you have done, and you feel shame, guilt, grief, and loss. You’ve been warped by the shadow. You are stretching and seeking the light, but the shadow remains. Isn’t it time to make things new? Making all things new I believe God is on a love mission where they want to make all things new. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5 Paul found this newness. A gumtree had to fall on him to make him wake up to God’s presence, but for some of us, that is what’s needed. Better still to cut the gum tree down branch by branch. To slowly dissect the object casting the shadow and allow the light to flood in. Where to from here 1. Ask God to reveal what is casting a shadow.Jesus said these words about Spirit (Holy). The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. The Spirit doesn’t speak on his own. He will tell you only what he has heard from me, and he will let you know what is going to happen. John 16:13 2. Own the shadow It’s a shadow that’s on you, so you need to take responsibility for it. Avoidance won’t shift the shadow. 3. Ask God for help in removing what is causing the shadow Imagine that huge gumtree and the enormity of the problem. You cant do it by yourself. We need someone larger and greater than ourselves. Supernatural goals need supernatural resources. Dr. Larry Crabb 4. Find others to help you dismantle the tree piece by piece.  This will most likely be a journey of a lifetime. Removing branches one at a time. Safely and securely allowing the new light to flood in. Find someone to help. 5. Look for the new light and enjoy its warmth.  As each small limb falls, there is a new light that dances around your life. You can grow straight, produce new fruit, and be enjoyed by others. You are one that has done the work and is now full of fruit.   We all have shadows that limit the light reaching us. Surely we can pray and ask God to help remove the object that is a full awareness of their presence.   Mental health is ... understanding the shadows we are living under and then beginning the process of removing the branches that hide the lightCLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin Those who do not turn to face their pain are prone to impose it. Terrence Real Redeemed pain is more impressive to me than removed pain Phillip Yancey. Questions to answer What has been a ‘shadow’ that has seemingly clung on to you? What would it be like to have some of those shadows removed and have more light enter your life? Are their experiences in your life that you might have recorded quite well but interpreted poorly? What would Spirit (Holy) want you to know as truth? Are you open to another interpretation? Barry Pearman Photo by Holger Link on Unsplash  
We are like a cup in which energy both fills and drains. But we can grow by paying attention to the cup and understanding the fillers and the drainers. It was always a challenge to get them to care for themselves. They were always giving out to others, and I could see that life was being sucked out of them. I explained that you can’t give out of an empty cup, but self-sacrifice and martyrdom had been drummed into them from childhood. They remembered that Sunday School song – J.O.Y. Jesus first, Yourself last,  and Others in between sung to the merry little tune of Jingle Bells. But now all that giving out was leading to their fragile body forming cracks. The body was breaking down. It couldn’t keep on giving out. Illnesses came,  sleeplessness, anxiety, depression. The body was trying to send a message – Stop abusing the cup. The Cup Many years ago, I once spent some time with a counselor by the name of Ruth Penny, and she suggested that I do a simple little spiritual exercise. I don’t know if she had developed herself or it was someone else’s, but I use it all the time. Its simply to imagine yourself as a cup and to notice what is filling your cup and what is emptying it. The input and the output. What is flowing in and what is being taken out. It’s a simple exercise of attention. 1. Get your journal or a piece of paper and a penHave some writing paper, a journal, or your diary so you can write down your experiences.Keeping a record of your entries will enable you to see trends in your life, and it may well point out to you things that God wants you to take notice of. 2. Quieten yourselfThis is an exercise of attention, so you will need to be quiet and give yourself space to breathe and focus. Allow yourself to be still.Prayerfully ask Spirit (Holy) to open the awareness of your cup to you. To see what God sees. 3. Imagine your life as a cup.A cup is something we are all familiar with. Jesus used a Cup as a metaphor for our lives.The cup is a container for something. They have a purpose and practicality to them.This exercise is not about the external aspects of the cup, such as color, age, cracks, or chips, but more about what flows in and out. 4. Write down your Cup fillers and Cup drainers.As you consider how your life is a cup, take note of what has filled your life and what has drained your life.Cup Fillers – what has given you a sense of life?It might be the smallest of things such a smile from a stranger, something you have read, something you have achieved. It is anything positive that has been poured into your life. Don’t dismiss even the smallest of droplets that made their way into your life. They all add up.Cup Drainers – what has drained the life from you?Write down those things where you have sensed a drain on you. It might be a relationship, a conflict, or a work situation. It could be anything, but for whatever reason, this has drained some sense of life from you. 5. Prayerfully look at the Fillers and Drainers.Examine them and ponder over them.· How full or empty is your cup at the moment?· Do you notice any patterns in what has filled you or drained you?· Is there anything you need to do differently?· What do you need to let go of?· What do you need to embrace?· What will repeat itself if you don’t make some changes? You might like to discuss and problem-solve some of the drainers with others. Set yourself some small and highly achievable goals that focus on both filling your cup and dealing with the drainers. Note:  Some things can be both drainers and fillers. For example, I love talking with people at a deep level. It both fills my cup but also drains it. This is ok, as long as I  am aware of it and learn ways to fill up. 6. Repeat the exerciseI encourage you to repeat this exercise. Make it a regular part of your life. It could be every day or week. As you do this, you will begin to see patterns to what fills and drains your cup. There may be an invite in those patterns to explore further. Those habits, both good and bad, have a revealing nature to themselves. I wonder what they can tell you about you? By the way, this exercise is beneficial if you are considering a career change. You begin to notice the patterns that might be like signposts for a future direction to explore. 7. Give yourself a cup of graceIf I could everyone a cup of some unique beverage, it would be a cup of grace. We can so easily measure ourselves against others and pick up a nasty case of comparisonitis. The poison of comparison cripples our contentment.Instead, give yourself a cup of grace.   Mental Health is ... taking notice of your cup. What is filling you and what is draining youCLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider Justice – is getting what is deservedMercy – is not getting what is deservedGrace – is getting what is not deservedDarrell Johnson To be more aware of the other person, first become more aware of yourself. Without self-awareness, self cannot be laid aside, in order to listen. D. Riddell Love yourself as you love others. If you don’t care for your own needs, you’ll soon be unable to care for those who need you.  D. Riddell Spiritual growth begins with the easily overlooked disciplines of attentiveness and surrender. David Benner Questions to answer What, on a regular basis, has an energy filling effect on the cup of your life? What, on a regular basis, has an energy-draining effect on the cup of your life? Are you able to give yourself a nice full cup of grace? Further reading Barry Pearman Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash  
The load we carry can get too heavy, and we can breakdown. But we can grow through it when we have others who will watch with us. I needed help. I vividly remember the day I rang emergency services. I had come to a point where I knew I couldn’t carry the load by myself anymore. I had been beaten down emotionally and needed help. Every one of us is different. We all have different tolerance levels and abilities to handle what life throws at us. For some, they seem to be, for want of a better word, hard and tough. Nothing seems to break them. They have built a toughness around themselves, and nothing seems to get to them. Then others are more sensitive and soft. They are more open to getting hurt. With enough poundings from the fist of life, they can be pummeled to the ground. We need both groups of people, and I would say that each can learn something from the other. Which group do you think you would be in? What would those who know you well say about you? Soft or hard? Tough or tender? Maybe somewhere, in-between? The load that’s too heavy Every one of us, at some point in life, will come to a place where the load gets too heavy to bear. It’s what you do at that crucial moment is vital. For me, it was calling emergency services. I knew that there was nothing I could do within myself to dig my way out. I needed others to help me. I was sick, unwell, and required those who had skills, knowledge, and resources to help me rebuild. For a brief period of my life, I was receiving support from Mental Health Services. It was good, and it was what I needed. The stress load had become too heavy for my fragile human frame to handle. In the garden In one of the most precious stories from Jesus, we find him when his load was too heavy. It was before his crucifixion, his agonizing death where all the pain of the world would be loaded on his shoulders. That is a heavy load, one only the God of the universe could handle.  Yet, in his fully human, fully divine self, he invited us into his expression of load-bearing. Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:36-46 Watching with At that moment of deepest anxiety and fear, he wanted community. Yes, there was the prayer to his papa, but there was also an invite for closeness with friends. He asked for three of them, Peter, James, and John, to step aside and watch with him. He wanted connection, someone of human form that was going to be physically there with him. We value rugged individualism, the self-made man or woman, independence, yet God needed others. God, in the form of Jesus, exposed his vulnerability and need for community. I don’t want to be alone when I die. When someone close to me died of cancer a few years ago, we as a family took turns sitting by her bedside as the heavy load of cancer ate her life away. We watched with her. She was not alone. What is your heavy load We all carry a load, a pile of stress, worries, and pressures. Sometimes it can become overwhelmingly heavy, and we can feel ourselves being crushed under the burden. We need someone to watch with us. Some loads can’t be shifted easily and may take time to lessen. Some we will carry every day of our lives. Guilt, shame, loss, traumatic memories are but some that many of us bear. None of us will carry the sin of the world on our shoulders, as Jesus did, and so, in a relative sense, our burden is light, but it can still feel too heavy to handle. I am watching with We need others who will say, often without words but in actions, these words. ‘I know the load, and I am going to watch with you.I’m not going to try and fix you, save you, advise you, or try to straighten you out. I want you to know that you’re not alone’. I often would like people to tell me their load. Not that I can do anything about it, but I want them to know they are not alone with it. That the life-sucking aspect of the weight is shared, I want to ‘watch’ with them. When the load is shared, it feels reduced. When someone else knows the heaviness, then you’re not alone to carry something you were never meant to carry alone. Perhaps through prayer, a way forward can be known. A flickering candle of hope can emerge in the dark of the moment, and we can stumble our way forward together towards it. That’s what I think Jesus wanted on that dark night. Watching in the garden Not everyone is safe. Very few people will not try to fix, save, advise, or try to straighten you out. What I would like to suggest is that you become one who can quietly watch with others. To ‘shiva‘, like Jobs friends, before they went rogue. We don’t need others to watch over us like controlling authoritative policemen, but we do need others who are deeply aware of their humanity and can sit and watch with us. It takes self-awareness, patience, and confidentiality.  There is also a need for grit and openness to the divine and their work within all of us. There is a lot of good that can come out of the garden.   Mental Health is ... sharing the load with others that know how to watch with usCLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider Patience is the very shape of love. Without it, religion is merely about enforcing laws and requirements. Richard Rohr Patience Entering someone’s life is hugely different from merely guiding them. Larry Crabb  There is a solution to “unspeakable loneliness”: it needs to be spoken, to be shared. Ron Rolheiser When spiritual friends share their stories, the others listen without working. They rest. There’s nothing to fix, nothing to improve. A spiritual community feels undisturbed quiet as they listen, certainly burdened . . . but still resting in the knowledge that the life within, the passion for holiness, is indestructible. It needs only to be nourished and released. Larry Crabb, Becoming a True Spiritual Community: A Profound Vision of What the Church Can Be No one person can fulfill all your needs. But the community can truly hold you. The community can let you experience the fact that, beyond your anguish, there are human hands that hold you and show you God’s faithful love. Henri Nouwen Questions to answer What experiences have you had of heavy loads breaking you? When someone listens well, what do they do that makes the difference? When the load is shared, it makes a difference. Can you think of a moment in your life when you experienced this? Further reading Barry Pearman Photo by Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash
It was the feelings of a guilt trip and the words of being a ‘Brothers Keeper’ that triggered me. But was it genuinely helping me and them to think this way? Something needed to change. Some people seem to be able to push the manipulation guilt trip button every time. They tell you how life has been hard. They share their background and a wide range of struggles. You listen, and you empathize with their struggle, and indeed life is hard for some people. Then you look at yourself and all that you have. You may begin to feel some guilt, then some sense of a need to help them. You want to help, but you have only so much life, energy, time, and money. In the Bible, there is a story, or in particular, a phrase from that story, that can kick into gear and hit the guilt-trip button. My Brothers Keeper  It is the story of the first murder and an attempt to deflect blame. It comes right from the story of Cain killing Abel in the first book of the Bible – Genesis. Two brothers, Cain and Abel, bring gifts to God. Abel’s gift was accepted because he did what was right. Cain does not do what was right, and so it was rejected. Cain was furious, and God could see that he was angry. That is where we pick up the story. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance [facial expression] fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him.  Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! Genesis 4:6-10 Before we go any further, the word ‘keeper’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘Shomer’ which means ‘keeper,’ ‘guardian,’ and ‘watcher.’ At first glance, Cain wanted to avoid the issue. He knew exactly where Abel was. Avoid and hide by saying a lie. We all do it to see if we can get away with our murders. Then he says, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ asking if he is the one that is meant to know where his brother is located. He is essentially saying, ‘How would I know that? There is no GPS tracker attached to him.’ God is offering an opportunity for Cain to come clean and confess to what he has done. Instead, Cain tries to shift responsibility away from himself for what he had done and to put it on to God. Its a manipulation, an attempt to guilt-trip God. Essentially he is saying ‘God, you knew I was angry and you did nothing about it. Arent you, God, the keeper, guardian, and watcher of Abel? You could have stopped all this. So don’t blame me. I can’t be held responsible for my actions.’ The point is that God could see Cain’s heart and the murderous anger within him. God warned him of it and Cain’s personal responsibility to master it. Cain chose to ignore God’s counsel. Life is hard, and it’s easy to blame others and God for our difficulties, some of which may be quite valid. But then we turn around and expect others, including God, to fix life, without any acceptance of our human failings and personal responsibilities. We project onto others our anger, pain, resentment, and try to guilt-trip manipulate them, including God, into making things better. It’s all about us. We want God and others to do for us what we are expected to do for ourselves. The ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ of being a brother or sister keeper This little story tells us a lot about responsibility and where it starts and finishes. The ‘Yes’ I believe that to some degree, I am to have a caring, loving, and keeping relationship with others.  When I see injustices, I need to respond. I am called to care for others and help them. I am, in a sense, to be like God in this instance where he warned Cain of what he could see could happen. I also need to make sure they know they are responsible to ‘master’ their own life. As a father, I took full responsibility for my children when they were little. I was their keeper, guardian, and I watched over everything about them. As they got older, I passed over more of the responsibility to them. I gave them advice and let them make choices and accept the responsibility for the decisions they made. I didn’t rescue them, but they knew I was there for them. The ‘No’ I am not my brothers or sisters keeper in the sense that I will not take responsibility for the choices they made.  I am not going to cross the line where I do for others what they could and should be doing for themselves. God didn’t intervene with Cain because Cain had freedom of choice. God does not have puppet strings ‘coming down from heaven’ connected to our movements. Is someone ‘shoulding’ on you? I’ve heard and seen it many times. Those words of ‘We should be doing more for them’. The words may be voiced verbally, or they could be internal whispers that have a tinge of obligation, guilt shadowing around them. I remember two women who used to come to our Tuesday night service. Well, actually they only ever came when we had a meal. Primarily they only came for what they could get. When I asked them if they could help wash some dishes, there was always some excuse that they couldn’t help. Great stories of struggle were told. There was an attitude that it was everyone else’s responsibility to look after them. I would sense them trying to guilt-trip me, and they were masters at it. They had people running around after them doing all sorts of things. They had never really grown up. There was a dependency lifestyle, and they were milking it for all its worth. It was idleness instead of industry. Whenever I sense this feeling of being guilt-tripped by a P.L.O.M. (Poor Little Old Me), I go to one question. ‘What are you doing about this? I shift the responsibility back on to them. It’s like what God did with Cain when he said, ‘you must master it’. I get very pragmatic and practical. I don’t rescue. Rescuing teaches nobody anything and only breeds resentment, tiredness, and fatigue in yourself and dependency on others. Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.  It may seem harsh, but I think there are too many people in society that are getting too much for doing too little. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but I have met too many people who draw a government benefit, etc. that do nothing to make things better for themselves or others. I know that not everyone is capable of maintaining a full-time job or even find one, but it’s the attitudes and belief systems of entitlement and dependency on others that annoy me. Contrast that with the attitude of Paul For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10 In Mental Health, it could be facing your fears and going to see a doctor about your depression or anxiety. It could be taking that next millimeter step in recovery and asking for help to master the struggles to be self-responsible. You might need to learn how to say ‘No’ to the manipulations and guilt-trips projected on to you. When you have the feelings of a guilt trip being loaded on you, and you hear the words of being a ‘Brothers Keeper’, ask yourself this. By helping them, is it genuinely helping them?   Mental Health is ... not caving into guilt-trips and being a 'brother's keeper'. It's teaching and modeling self -responsibility. CLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider Your future is not determined by your past or your parentage, but by your own choices-the the choices you make today and tomorrow. Now is the key to tomorrow, not yesterday. D. Riddell We cannot excuse our sinful responses to others on the grounds of their mistreatment of us. We are responsible for what we do. Larry Crabb Learn to respond to others with honest, open questions instead of counsel or corrections. With such questions, we help “hear each other into deeper speech.” Parker J. Palmer. Questions to answer What happens in you when you sense you are being ‘guilt-tripped’? What is mentally healthier? To expect/ demand God to make life better for us, or to ask God to help us to discover God and to ‘master’ the struggles. How do you learn to be pragmatic in the face of emotional manipulation? Further reading Please. No Fixing, Advising, Saving or Straightening Out 7 Steps to Help Those with P.L.O.M’s (Poor Little Old Me) in the Mouth When to Rescue and What Needs to Come Next Do Christmas Community Meals Really Help? Barry Pearman Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash
Words said, have power. Self-deprecation is to pray against the self, but we can learn to pray for the self and so develop healthier thinking patterns. It was the words at the end of his sentence that caught my attention. ‘I’m so stupid; I always do things like that’. You learn to notice them—little words used as qualifying comments that disempower the self. I think that many of us have little words or sentences that we probably tell ourselves and others. Sometimes they slip out in conversation. Maybe they are offered up as an excuse or reason for things being the way they are. Most of these thought sentences are kept quietly to ourselves, where they can continue to shape and poison our thinking. We say them so many times that we become used to them. They are our default thinking regime. As a child, I was taught to ‘not think too highly of oneself’ Romans 12:3 and that ‘pride comes before a fall’ Proverbs 16:18 So the obvious course is to think lowly of yourself and to keep yourself humble through a self-flagellation diatribe of dismissive self-talk. We self-deprecate as a spiritual discipline, thinking we are doing the right thing. Yet, I believe, all this self-deprecation can become like poison leaking into the groundwater of our soul. It can slowly poison us to where we loath ourselves, and we consider ourselves as a worm and as a wretch. Sit in a pile of pus long enough, and you will get sick. Our velcro brain looks for the negative. The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. [This] shades “implicit memory” – your underlying expectations, beliefs, action strategies, and mood – in an increasingly negative direction. Rick Hanson The abusive art of self-deprecation  Some have mastered the art of self-deprecation. They are perfectionists at belittling and undervaluing themselves. Then they turn their attention towards others. It’s very interesting to look into the background of the word deprecate. To ‘deprecate’ means to ‘pray against’. Early 17th century (in the sense’ pray against’): from Latin deprecat- ‘prayed against (as being evil)’, from the verb deprecari, from de- (expressing reversal) + precari’ pray.’ When we self-deprecate, we pray against the self and various parts of who we are. We use words to cut ourselves down. This gets, as I have said, into the groundwater of our soul, our self-talk becomes contaminated with this poison. We drink from this well, thinking it’s normal. Our brain wiring rope bridges keep being reinforced. If I were to say that I was going to ‘deprecate’ you, to ‘pray against you’, then you would consider this as being abusive. If we see a parent vomiting toxic words on a child or witness an abusive husband, wife, employer, we would call this abuse. Yet we tolerate and possibly admire people who do this to themselves. We think it’s ok to do it to ourselves. Crushed Soul Is your soul being crushed? I read this passage the other day. Fools are undone by their big mouths;    their souls are crushed by their words. Proverbs 18:7 What words are you saying to yourself? What words are you saying to others? I’ve met many people whose souls have been crushed. Either by the words of others or by the words they have ‘deprecated’ (prayed) over themselves. We can’t control the actions of others. Some people are going to spill poison on us because that is what’s in them. They need to take responsibility for themselves. But we can control ourselves and our response to their poison. Do we take it in, do we deprecate ourselves with it? Praying for the self  If we deprecate or pray against the self, perhaps a better and healthier alternative is to pray for the self. To pray in support of the self. What would that look like? Perhaps it would be praying positive, loving, and compassionate words about ourselves. I am loved I am known I have worth I have value God loves me, and I am worthy of this love God rejoices over me, renews me, and delights in me. Zephaniah 3:17 What does your crushed soul most need to hear? This is where journaling and a thinking compass can help. Journalling can be useful to unpack many of those self-deprecating thoughts we keep telling our souls. Then we can use a thinking compass to record down prayers of positivity, love, and compassion to help us rewire the brain. Words said, have power. When we self-deprecate, we pray against the self, but we can learn to pray for the self and so develop healthier thinking patterns.   Mental Health is ... self praying faith, hope, and love into your soulCLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider The brain takes its shape from what the mind rests upon. Rick Hanson To shift a truth from your head to your heart, speak it loud, speak it often, and make a deliberate choice to believe it. David Riddell Praise and encouragement is much more effective in changing others’ behavior than is criticism, but which do you use on yourself? D. Riddell Questions to answer Do you notice when people say little words of ‘self-deprecation’? What words do you tell yourself? Are they encouraging words or critical words? What words do you need to pray over your self? Further reading Self Compassion for a ‘Wretch like me’ Jonah and the … Negativity Bias Recording: A Spiritual Habit for Better Mental Health Barry Pearman Photo by Florian Krumm on Unsplash
We can get into thinking ruts, but the right word at the right time can lift us out and move us into new and better thinking. So we need to be searching for the Rhema words. It was only a short sentence that he said, but the words seemed to have power behind them. It was like a new path had opened up for me that gave me some encouraging hope. They were the right words at the right time. I quickly wrote them down in my notebook so I could reread them later. Words can have that effect. They some times jump out of seemingly nowhere and say ‘This is for you’. Words such as You have worth You matter You can do this   Custom-made words You can always tell a great orator. They are wordsmiths. Somehow, with clever creativity, they weave together a few words, tell a story, and move you emotionally. Something changes in you. But what if there was a sentence that was custom-made for you. An encouragement, a piece of wisdom, an acknowledgment. The writer of the proverbs tells us this. The right word at the right time    is like a custom-made piece of jewelry.Proverbs 25:11 I’ve never had a piece of custom-made jewelry. The nearest I have come to this was when my mother used to knit woolen jerseys for me as a child. She would measure me up with a tape measure and write down on a pad my measurements. It was a very special feeling when she would present to me a perfectly fitting jersey, custom-made for me. Some words are custom-made for you that you need to hear. Rhema and Logos In the Bible, we find that there are two different Greek words to refer to the word of God. One of these words is logos, and the other is rhema. Logos refers to the written text—lots and lots of words. We read the logos, and we can gain knowledge about God and history and all sorts of amazing things. Rhema is different and refers to the intimate speaking of God to us. It is that breath of truth we need to hear. From knowledge, we move to knowing. Jesus knew the importance of listening for the rhema. ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word (rhema)that comes from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4 The words (rhema) that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63 I have listened to a lot of logos. I have gained a lot of knowledge from studying the Bible and reading many books. But in this quest, I have longed for the rhema. It’s those custom-made God breathes that excite me the most. I so need that truth to fill my brain and rewire its circuity. How do you discover a rhema? You won’t catch fish in a desert. You go where fish swim. If you want gold, you go to where it’s buried. One of my enduring memories of my parents was their reading of a devotional bible study every morning. It was one of their ways of searching things out, looking for the rhema. Much of what we most need to hear and know is hidden away like rare gemstones. It is the glory of God to conceal things,    but the glory of kings is to search things out. Proverbs 25:2 I have a little phrase that keeps me searching. I have to ‘get in the way’ of God to discover what I need to hear. I keep knocking on the door of God’s wisdom house, asking for bread in the middle of the night. I ‘get in the way’, seek, and knock. “Here’s what I’m (Jesus) saying:Ask and you’ll get;Seek and you’ll find;Knock and the door will open.Luke 11:5-9 Too many of us are sitting and waiting for a God to do home deliveries of truth and then to spoon-feed us like babies. It’s in the seeking that opens our brain up into new ways of living. I was once a pastor to a group of people where most of them struggled with serious mental illness. One of the ladies in the group had severe paranoid schizophrenia. She would frequently come to wild and delusional conclusions about people and situations. Along with health professionals, I would help her to work through these. Shame would come, and we would talk and walk through the struggle. Many people found her difficult to be around. They lost patience with her. I remember her one day telling me about her Bible reading. That every day she would read the scriptures and ponder on them. I suggested that we read them together and talk about them. She pulled out a very worn bible with underlined verses and notes in the margin. Here is what excited me. She was getting in the way of God. She was knocking on the door, seeking the truth, looking for the Rhema, and I was invited to part of her exploration. She may have been discounted by the rich and socially acceptable, but she was adored by God. Feeding on rhema Recently I had a rhema breathed on to me. Here it is. ‘I’m making garlands for God, my God.’ That may not speak to you a great deal, it may seem irrelevant, but for my heart, it speaks the truth. I felt its breath when I was reading Psalm 20 See those people polishing their chariots,    and those others grooming their horses?    But we’re making garlands for God our God.The chariots will rust,    those horses pull up lame—    and we’ll be on our feet, standing tall. Psalm 20:7-8 It’s so easy to have our focus on what others are achieving. Their supposed successes, their ‘polished chariots’ and ‘groomed horses’. Comparisonitis kills the soul. The psalmist takes us to where our true focus is meant to be. Doing something beautiful and delighting to God. So, ‘Im making garlands for God’ via my writing, gardening, and general life activities. Every day I am presented with ‘polished chariots’ and ‘groomed horses’ that can sicken me with comparisonitis, but I feed on truth, on rhema, and therefore I retrain the brain. I have added, ‘I’m making garlands for God, my God.’ to my thinking compass. I read that compass every day to help me keep on course. Slowly and surely, I am creating a new rope bridge in my brain. Every time I repeat the phrase ‘I’m making garlands for God, my God.’ in my brain, that synapse in the brain gets stronger and stronger. When you receive a Rhema, it’s your responsibility to care for it. To memorize it and take it into your thinking. We can get into thinking ruts, but the right word at the right time can lift us out and move us into new and better thinking. So we need to be searching for the Rhema words.   Mental health is ... seeking after that Rhema word. The right word at the right time. CLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider Our great problem is trafficking in unlived truth. We try to communicate what we’ve never experienced in our own life. Dwight L. Moody Transformation is possible. It is possible to acquire the consciousness of Christ. It is possible to know God, not just believe in God. And it is possible to engage life with the wisdom that flows from this deep inner knowing. David Benner Nothing digs ditches like shovel fulls of dirt. Rick Hanson Questions to answer What have been some words that have met you just at the right time? Where do you ‘Ask, seek, and knock’ for your daily rhema bread? Have you ever had something custom-made for you? What feelings did that generate in you? Further reading How to Create New Rope Bridges in our Thinking Change the way you think and act How to Develop a Compass for the Brain
Our thoughts can take us to both the best and worst of places, but we can create new thinking pathways. It will require a plan to rope bridge the synapse gap.  It was a small rope bridge, and it had only three wires. One wire where you could place your feet, and then two higher wires to the left and right where you could stretch your arms out and grasp with your hands. It wasn’t that high, a mere 5 feet off the ground, but it was high enough that on this confidence course, it provided a challenge. I used to be a pastor to a group where most of the people involved had serious long-term mental health struggles. Most of the people I supported struggled with either anxiety, depression, P.T.S.D., schizophrenia, addictions, personality disorders, or something else that made life hard for them. Twice a year, we would go away for a camp. Sandy beach, fishing, good food, fun, and a confidence course. We would then invite people to try the rope bridge. With several helpers, we would encourage the person to take the first step and then the next. You could see the fear etched into their faces. We would tell them they were doing great and to keep focused on the other end. Telling them to take one step at a time. We would even hold the wire for them to stop it wobbling. The bridge would wobble and shift, but with every step, the walker would inch their way across. Photos were taken, and celebrations and high fives at the end. For some, it became a goal at every camp to walk that wire bridge. They were learning something new. It was hard, scary, and a challenge, but inside their brains, they were also creating a new rope bridge. For many of them, they had to stop listening to the worst words they had repeatedly been telling themselves. The worst words I think the worst words anyone can say are ‘I can’t change.’ Or words to that effect, such as ‘That’s just who I am’ and ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ It disappoints me because it speaks to a belief of hopelessness, despair, and defeat. They are ‘locked in’ to a set of thinking and behavior habits. I want to whisper, and maybe even shout, ‘Resurrection’ into those neurons. Bringing new life and hope. What we can learn from a rope bridge One of the most informative videos about how we learn something new comes from Dr. Robert Winston in his series The Human Body.     Transcript:Learning something new means rearranging the way our brain works. Our brain has an astonishing one hundred billion neurons or brain cells all connected together. Learning is about creating and strengthening pathways through these neurons for impulses of electricity. But between each and every connection in our brains is a tiny gap called a synapse. For any of us to learn something new, the electrical signal has to jump across this gap to continue its journey. The gap between the two brain cells is tiny, but that doesn’t mean its straight forward for a signal to get from one side to the other. For us, it’s like crossing a deep ravine, and getting from one side to the other should tell us something about the way we learn. The first time a signal crosses from one brain cell to the other demands the most effort, and it’s the same when we cross our ravine. The first trip across it is the hardest. Having crossed the ravine once the journeys across get easier and easier, and a similar thing happens when we learn something. To start with, learning is difficult, but as the signal crosses the gap between the brain cells, again and again, we establish a more solid pathway. By the time we have made the crossing over and over again, it becomes effortless. We can do it whenever we like. New thinking pathways Watching and thinking about that video I have seven observations A conscious decision needs to be made.It’s a choice you have to make to begin thinking differently. So, do you want to think differently?Yes or No. A behavior is required.You can talk about change as much as you like, but following through with behavior and taking action is where it’s at. For me, it is reading my ‘Thinking compass’ every day.It’s me saying to the synapses that this matters. I prayerfully ask God to create that new pathway in the brain. It takes effortWe want change to happen magically, don’t we, but it will require effort on our part to build new pathways in our thinking. It takes timeIt is going to take about 60 -70 days to get that new pathway slotted in and on autopilot, and the old one pruned apart. See Dr.Shannon Irvine Repetition strengthens the path.In the video, we saw how, with each crossing, the strength of the bridge increased. From a single rope, it then became a bridge with planks you could walk across.Back and forth, back and forth, it was the purposeful repetition that built the strength of the bridge. Old pathways slowly lose their power.We used to go this way in our thinking, but now we have a better route. I used to crawl, but then I found walking to be better. Walking is the automatic default way of moving now.When I talk about this with others, I like them to imagine that old wire bridge, the old thinking pathway/bridge falling into disrepair. It has cobwebs growing over it, it’s not getting maintained, and so slowly over time, it loses its appeal, and it falls apart. Encouragement from others helps build the bridge.I’m glad that Robert Winston had someone helping him build his bridge. It’s precisely the same when we are learning something new, creating new brain pathways.To have a guide, coach, or a friend that cheers us along in our thinking will help us reinforce our new life. By default or by design One of the little thinking coaches I have in my daily thinking compass is this. Life happens one thought at a time by default or design. Many of my default thinking pathways have a negativity bias to them, but I know that I can change the way I think and act. It’s my brain, my responsibility, and so, I choose to live my life by design. My brain is rewiring itself. With a sense of design, I want to think about whatever is true,whatever is honorable,whatever is just,whatever is pure,whatever is pleasing,whatever is commendable,if there is any excellence andif there is anything worthy of praise,think about these things.Philippians 4:8 Our thoughts can take us to both the best and worst of places, but we can create new thinking pathways. It will require a plan to bridge the synapse gap.   Mental Health is ... proactively creating new thinking pathways in the same way a new rope bridge is made.CLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider You are the creator of your thoughts, and it’s your thoughts that can create the future that you want. It really is in your control. Dr. Shannon Irvine If it’s been learned, it can always be unlearned. e.g., ways of coping, personal habits, survival kits, and nasty addictions. D. Riddell A changed life demands having new understandings in place when you need them. Store them up now and lubricate by revision. D. Riddell The chief thief is the belief beneath. The subconscious is always the power behind the decisions we make and the outcomes we experience. David Riddell Questions to answer How much do you think you are in control of your thoughts? What did you learn from the video? Is there some thinking habit that you need to unlearn by creating a new neural pathway? Further reading I Say ‘Resurrection’ to The Mocker How to Develop a Compass for the Brain 7 Steps to Help Those who Ruminate. BarryPearman Photo by Valentina Girelli on Unsplash
Do you keep making the same bad choices over and over again? You can change, and it all begins with a decision to change the way you think and act. It was New Zealand’s worst airline disaster. On November 28th, 1979, Air New Zealand Flight 901 flew into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica. All 237 passengers and 20 crew died. I remember the first news reports coming in on TV in the evening, saying that the flight was overdue and that contact had been lost. We woke the next morning to a tragedy. Initially, it was concluded that it was pilot error, but a Royal Commission was set up to dig deeper. It found that two factors caused the accident. A correction made to the coordinates of the flight path the night before the disaster and a failure to inform the flight crew of the change. The result was that the aircraft was being guided by the computer in a direct path toward Mount Erebus. . Surely you would think the pilots would be able to see the mountain in front of them and steer to avoid it, but they were in whiteout conditions. Outside there was a layer of clouds that blended with the white of the snow-covered volcano, forming a sector whiteout – there was no contrast between the two to warn the pilots. The effect deceived everyone on the flight deck, making them believe that the white mountainside was the Ross Ice Shelf. Mount Erebus disaster Then there was the attempt to cover up the causes of the disaster. Justice Mahon, chair of the Royal Commission, accused Air New Zealand of presenting “an orchestrated litany of lies.” Your disaster I’ve known a few disasters in my life. I’ve also seen others have crashes. Many of them preventable. Then there are those crashes that are repeated time and time. You keep on doing the same thing, expecting different results, but wind up with the same disaster on your hands. You blame other people. Accusations fly. You hide the facts and twist the truth.  You orchestrate a ‘litany of lies’ believing them to be true. Deep down, though, it was you that was making the same decisions. It’s like you have an onboard computer with wrong coordinates loaded into it, flying you towards an inevitable disaster. Change the way you think and act. Then there was a time of momentous change in the history of the world, but for one man, it got extremely personal. He had his inbuilt computer brain telling him to always respond to a situation in a certain way. Even though he had been a follower of Jesus for three years, and had listened to everything Jesus had said, seen all the miracles, he still had the disaster. Peter denied knowing Jesus, and suddenly his world collapsed. Later he was forgiven and restored, but this was a pivotal moment in Peter’s life. It was a time of course correction. He had to change his thinking and acting. Later, that is his message to an equally misguided group of people. Change the way you think and act. Acts 2:38 3:19 Change is a course correction—an alteration in your thinking, which leads to new actions and behaviors. One of my favorite quotes is from the French philosopher, Christian mystic, and social activist Simeon Weil. Sin is not a distance, it is a turning of our gaze in the wrong direction. Simone Weil, Waiting for God We all have turned our gaze in the wrong direction. All of us have some disastrous coordinates programmed into our neural pathways.  Often these are there from childhood. Early conclusions we made about life steers our ship. Every day we have experiences that subconsciously reinforce our belief that … The world is a dangerous place No one can be trusted I have no worth My situation can’t change I have no rights (what is a deep belief that you hold) The dance of course correction There is a dance that we are invited to participate in. It’s a dance of ‘course correction’. When I was in school, we had square dancing. We would choose a partner, and then four couples would stand in a square. The frazzled teacher (frazzled after herding children) would put a record on the record player and out would come some scratchy American folk singer encouraging us to take your partner, swing them to the left and right, dosey doe and go to someplace called ‘Red River Valley’. It was rhythm and patterns, and you got to dance with that pretty girl! I believe we are all in a course correction dance with partners who are perfect in every way, know the exact steps to take, and are very gracious about our stepping on their toes. My little logo for Turning the Page symbolizes this. Four dancing spirals, or Koru. God as Parent, Jesus the Son, and Spirit is inviting us to change the way we think and act. I get invitations to course-correct every day. Some I ignore and some I explore. Some I take in and make them part of my thinking compass. I don’t want you or anyone else to keep on heading towards disasters – large or small, but it requires a willingness to change the way you think and act.   Mental Health is ... accepting that we need to change the way we think and actCLICK TO TWEET   Quotes to consider Metanoeite, or change of consciousness, can only come with time. Patience is the very shape of love. Without it, religion is merely about enforcing laws and requirements. Richard Rohr Patience The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation more often happens not when something new begins but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart—disruption and chaos—invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites and sometimes forces the soul to go to a new place because the old place is not working anymore. Richard Rohr When Things Fall Apart Change can either help people to find a new meaning, or it can cause people to close down and turn bitter. The difference is determined by the quality of our inner life, or what we call “spirituality.” Change of itself just happens; spiritual transformation is an active process of letting go, living in the confusing dark space for a while, and allowing yourself to be spit up on a new and unexpected shore. You can see why Jonah in the belly of the whale is such an important symbol for many Jews and Christians. Richard Rohr When Things Fall Apart Questions to consider Do you ever have moments where you mutter to yourself, ‘Why do I keep on doing that’? We all want others to change, but how difficult is it to change yourself? Why? What is a false, misleading belief that you have that seems to look for evidence of being true? e.g., I have no worth Further Reading What Swiss Cheese has taught me about Forgiving Myself and Others How to Develop a Compass for the Brain Mental Health is … You Taking Ownership of You Barry Pearman Photo by Vandan Patel on Unsplash  
Stress can add up to be too much, and we can have a mental health breakdown, but when we break it down like in the story of David and Goliath, we can find a way through the chaos. Stressful times can feel like a massive avalanche of overwhelming pressure. The keyword in that sentence is ‘feel.’  You have a feeling of living in the overwhelming shadow of something that could crush you. It was like an overflowing river of complaints. It took her an hour to express all her problems and pains to me. She had not been listened to for some time, and all the fear, anger, sadness, frustration, and plain tiredness had to be released. I think she thought I had some sort of magic prayer wand that could be waved and all the problems would disappear. Instead, I suggested that we, together, break it down before she had a breakdown. Then I told her a Bible story. It’s the story of David and Goliath. You can read the story in full here, but it’s the story of a little guy taking on a bully, and when we look further into the story, we can glean some ideas of how to handle our stress. David and Goliath And When looking at stressful situations, there are a lot of ‘and’s.’ This problem and that problem and then this situation and then that issue and of course this crisis and then that situation. Lots and lots of ‘and’s.’ The story of David and Goliath is full of ‘and’s.’ A fearful King.And a large hostile army facing the Israelites.And an ‘incredible hulk’ kind of warrior facing them.And no one brave enough to fight.And dismayAnd terror. Do you see how the ‘and’s’ add up? They keep adding and adding and adding until we lose sight of the individual components. It all adds to it being one HUGE PROBLEM. But But there was a young teenage boy, David, visiting his brothers.But he had trained himself to kill lions and bears.But he knew how to handle a slingshot.But he knew how to pick the perfect stones for aerodynamic accuracy.But he knew where the weak spot was that would kill.But he knew his God.But he knew how to breakdown any overwhelming problem into its constituent parts and to take action.But he was dismissed as being too young. For every problem that feels overwhelming, there is a ‘but.’ Therefore It’s time to take action. Therefore David fell back on the confidence and faith that he had developed when facing lions and bears.Therefore David rejected the offer of the King’s armor and weapons.Therefore David chose five smooth stones.Therefore he prayed.Therefore he narrowed his focus to aim for the perfect headshot.Therefore he overcame. David went in ‘the strength that he had’ much like Gideon was called to do (see Three Bible Verses to Reassure when You feel Stress) Break it down before you breakdown Much of the stress we face can feel overwhelming, like a Goliath, but it can be broken down into smaller and smaller components. At times we need to get quite pragmatic about our lives. What is in my control and what is not. What I can do and what others need to do. What I am responsible for and what I am not responsible for. When we breakdown the problem into manageable chunks, we can then tackle each part of the problem in bite-sized pieces. As they say, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time’. What is your Goliath? What taunts you? Is there something that seems overwhelming and huge that you are facing. Does it feel too big for you to cope with? Break it down before it breaks you down.   Mental Health is ... learning how to be pragmatic and to breakdown problems, before they break you downCLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider A goal without a plan is just a wish.― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away. Linus Pauling Before you get anything else, get organized. It will always save you time and trouble and unnecessary anger. David Riddel Questions to answer Thinking of a situation you are facing, what are its parts? What is a ‘Goliath’ to you? What are the ‘but’s’ in your life that you can strengthen yourself in? Further reading 7 Mental Health Benefits of Having a ‘Can Do’ Task List. How to Help Others Solve Problems in 8 Steps Three Bible Verses to Reassure when You feel Stress Barry Pearman Photo by Kylo on Unsplash Learn more about A, B, T – And, But, Therefore writing from Randy Olson.
There are times we feel stress, but there is the hope of reassurance when we meditate on some Bible verses. One of my favorite bible characters was someone who seemed to need consistent reassurance when under stress. He was anxious, unsure, and seemed to want to argue with God. I like that because it means he was much like many of us. He was human, and that’s important to remember. God chose someone like us. God still chooses imperfect people to do great things. His name was Gideon. Three Bible Verses to Reassure Imagine, if you can, that an oppressive all-powerful military force has invaded your land. You are in hiding and no longer living in your home. Instead, you are living in caves and hiding in the countryside. You grow some crops only to have them destroyed. Any animals you have, get slaughtered by the army. You are living in fear and always looking over your back, wondering when the next attack would come. You cry out to God for help and wait. This was Gideon’s life. He was so full of fear that he chose a winepress, somewhere he couldn’t be seen to grind out a small amount of wheat. But in that hidden place, an angel appeared. The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. Judges 6:12 Presence challenges perception Whatever is stressing you out, there is a greater bigger story going on. We can get so captured by the human reality of the situation that we lose awareness of the bigger story. That God is with us and that God has a different view of us and what is stressing us out. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6: 12 The phrase ‘The Lord is with you’ is repeated throughout the Bible, and when we come to taste the awareness of presence, then our perception of ourselves is invited to change. The angel gave Gideon the truest version of himself – ‘Mighty warrior.’ I wonder what an Angel would say about you as the truest version of yourself? When you are sitting in the presence of the eternal, then the present reality loses its power over you. You begin to feel held in something bigger than your version of what’s going on. Our perception is blinked To prevent horses from seeing to the rear and, in some cases, to the side, blinkers are placed near the eyes.  These are little flaps placed near the eyes. They have a ‘blinkered view’. Their world is captured in what they can see. When under stress, our perception of things can become so narrow and tight that we lose sight of anything else. Our version of reality becomes fixed. Gideon had a blinkered version of what reality and God was meant to be like. We all do. His version was much like ours. ‘God, you promised this and that, why haven’t you come through on my terms of what blessing is meant to look like’. “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6: 13 I think the angel could see his blinkers. No debate was ventured into, no apologetics lectures were given, and no arguing over various texts. Logic was not going to change his heart, but perhaps a millimeter faith step would.  The strength you have I was once publicly shamed by a pastor from the pulpit. He didn’t say my name, but enough people knew that it was me he was referring to when he talked about people not having enough faith to go on the mission field. I was in a leadership coaching group he was leading, and it was a topic I brought up the previous week. So much for confidentiality. ‘The Lord’ ( no longer an angel) speaks to this blinkered hiding man. Try and see yourself in Gideon’s shoes.  The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand.” Judges 6:14 Why I brought up that personal story is that faith and confidence grow little by little and step by step. Gideon is encouraged to ‘Go in the strength you have’. He wasn’t told to be a Superhero, to fake it until you make it, to be something he wasn’t, to leap, and wait for the net to catch him. You can’t be someone else. You can only be you, so start there. Instead, he was to start where he was. Faith steps begin from where you are and move to where you can be next. When under high-stress, I like to be very pragmatic and down to earth. I break the problems down into the smallest tiniest little steps to take and then ‘Go in the strength that I have’ to resolve them. Surprise! It’s you that’s been chosen  I never thought that I would have a website with weekly posts about Mental Health and Faith. I had a blinkered view, but God didn’t. Gideon is given an empowering question. A question that moves him to think about the blinkers constricting his life. “Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:14 Out of everyone available, God chose Gideon. We think we have to be a specific type of person or have various qualifications to be of use to God. God looks at the heart and starts there. This is a Bible verse that chooses you to consider choosing yourself. Can you do that? Three Bible Verses All of us, from time to time, have difficult, stressful times. Periods where we feel alone and anxious. In a winepress doing the daily grind. In those times, it’s important to meditate on these three Bible verses. “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” “Go in the strength you have.” “Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:12, 14 Quotes to consider We cannot attain the presence of God. We’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness Richard Rohr Real encouragement occurs when words are spoken from a heart of love to another’s recognized fear. Larry Crabb Faith is not the opposite of doubt. Faith is the opposite of certitude. Where you don’t need to be certain to be happy. If you can’t go there you’ll never be happy because you’ll never get logical certitude. If you’re waiting for 100% certitude you’re never going to happy. Richard Rohr. Podcast: Trust is a Rock You Can Build Upon Questions to answer What would an angel say to you about who you truly are? What is the little millimeter faith step God is calling you to take today? What is it like to know that you’re not alone in those stress-filled times? Further reading 5 Steps to take when the Panic button has been pushed How to Develop a Compass for the Brain Fight, Flight, or Freeze. There is a Mental Health invite Underneath. Barry Pearman Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash
Cast your bread. You can hold it to yourself, that special thing about you, but it is better for everyone if you ‘Cast your bread.’  Focus on the micro gifts of today. Even in winter, the children still ask if there are strawberries to pick. I manage a large vegetable garden at a primary school here in Auckland, and it always amuses me when the children ask me if there are any strawberries. They don’t yet fully understand the concept of seasons and having to wait. That there is a time to sow and a time reap. I enjoy harvest time. It’s so good to be picking fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the garden. One of the delights at the school is to pick some fresh ripe tomatoes and then slice a section and give it to a young child. The taste is so much better than store-bought. Maybe because it’s been grown in soil, without vast amounts of chemical fertilizers and sprays, but also perhaps that the children are involved in the planting and the picking. Modern Immediacy Today it’s a world of immediacy. With the quickness of internet speed, we expect to get what we want when we want it. We go to our supermarket shelves in the middle of winter and can find summer fruits and vegetables. Perhaps we have lost some sense of waiting with patient expectancy. Rhythm is built into creation, and the problem with the modern world is that you can get tomatoes at 2 am Rob Bell Cast your bread There is a strange little verse in the Bible that genuinely makes you scratch your head. Cast your bread upon the waters,    for you will find it after many days. Ecclesiastes 11:1 I see myself with a loaf of bread, throwing it into a river and then it coming back to me after a few days as a soggy mess. Now that is weird! So we need to go back to what the first readers would have heard—their interpretation of this cryptic passage. Cast – to cast something was to spread it out. Typically in those times, it referred to seed.  A farmer would go and ‘cast’ his seed out into the fields. In these modern days, we have machines that are very precise and will drill or sow the seed to precisely the right depth and placement for optimum germination. In the days of old, it was random, rough, and ready. Bread – another reference to seed. Bread comes from milled grain. The grain is the seed. Every year at harvest time, a portion of the crop was set aside to be sown at a later date. When the season came for sowing, there better be enough seed. So, in essence, you were sowing your bread. Waters – You don’t sow seed into water, but you do sow it when you know that the soil will become wet with rain. In Israel, the early rains come in October / November to loosen up the sun-baked dirt. A farmer would go out and cultivate the soil ready for ‘water’ to fill furrows. The seed would then be cast into the ‘waters’ and germinate. Find it after many days – that little seed, sown in faith, would grow and develop and create seed itself. This would take ‘many days.’ There was not an exact date when the harvest would take place, but more a season. So many factors come into play as to how well that cereal plant would grow. Many unseen and unknown factors express themselves on that growing plant. There is a mystery, and much of its growth is beyond our control.  The joy of harvest  Harvest is a beautiful time. It is that moment where you know the fruit of your labor. You taste it and enjoy its freshness. You want to be forever living in that emotional happiness of reward and satisfaction. That buzz or thrill can become addictive. I want it all, I want it now, and I don’t want to have to do the work to get it. We want the delight of intimacy, but we don’t want to do the risky work of relationship building. Please relieve my emotional pain relief, but without the hard work of discovering what’s under the pain. For most of our days, we are cultivating, sowing seed, and waiting. We trust, and we hope. Confidence grows year upon year, harvest season upon harvest season. Snake Oil salesman I think there are many ‘Snake Oil salesmen’ in our world. They offer a quick fix, a panacea to our problems. In 2019 the most popular searched item on Google was ‘Disney Plus.’ We want our diversions, our harvest of buzz emotions. We want to be told ‘nice things,’ things that will make us ‘feel better.’ “They tell their preachers,    “Don’t waste our time on impracticalities.Tell us what makes us feel better.    Don’t bore us with obsolete religion.That stuff means nothing to us.    Quit hounding us with The Holy of Israel.” Isaiah 30:8-11 We want the harvest without the sweat of cultivation and the casting of our essence to the unknown. Sowing to something beyond our control. To faith, hope, and love. The joy of the cast  What if we were to take a joyful approach to the daily grind of a little movement each day. I enjoy sowing seeds. I get my little packet of seed, open up the tinfoil wrapper and sprinkle the seed on to some seedling mix compost, cover them and water and wait. The seed, in a sense, dies to its former structure. In that small dry husky shell, some water reaches in and begins the magic. Cells divide and multiply, and before long, a root comes out. Then bursting through the soil a shoot emerges.  There is already a harvest of growth and change. It’s exciting. Given a few more ‘many days’ and I will be picking tomatoes and slicing cucumbers for children dulled by supermarket immediacy.  I also sow seeds every week via this blog. I cast them wide and far. Some touch down on good soil and reap a harvest multiple times over. Some seed lands on stones and paths and rocky places. Parable of the Sower The important thing is to keep on sowing because there is a joy in the seed landing and taking root in people’s lives. Where are you throwing your life away Those early subsistence farmers had a choice. Do I eat the seed or not? How much I do keep for myself and my family, and how much do I set aside for sowing? The same question is ours. How much of the good are you holding in yourself? Keeping it in and not sharing what you have been given. That giftedness you have. That unique quality or skill or knowledge you alone seem to have. My mother made beautiful knitted garments. Many hours she could be seen knitting exquisite baby clothes. Her great-grandbabies wear them now, and maybe even their great-grandbabies will wear them too! Now that is what I call a harvest from casting to the waters. What would you most like to harvest in your life? Is it joy, peace, happiness, contentment? Focus on the ‘cast’ of the moment. In ‘many days,’ and maybe even not in your lifetime, there will be a harvest.   Mental Health is ... celebrating this present moment of the microscopic 'cast your bread upon the waters' knowing that there will be a harvest in the future.CLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider I’ve got this thing in my heartI must give you todayIt only lives when youGive it awayBruce Cockburn – Give it away Happiness is found in being free—free from our attachment to circumstances and possessions, and free from our compulsion to gratify our need for power, affection, and security. Liberation is found in the little deaths we surrender to every day. Phileena Heuertz You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. John Bunyan For it is in giving that we receive. St. Francis of Assisi Questions to answer What little micro ‘cast’ can you make today? Has a ‘Snake Oil Salesmen’  sold you lie? If so, what is it? What would you like to most harvest in your life? Further reading How ‘Going the extra Mile’ Flips the Power Dynamics Life’s not Fair! There is a Mystery to be Known God is Pruning Me for Love, Joy, and Peace Barry Pearman Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash
There are many barriers to getting the help we need for our Mental Health, but the barriers can be taken down, and new hope can be found. Today as you read this blogpost, approximately ten visits will be made to read the blog post ‘I’ve Had Enough, Take my Life God, I Want to die.’  Since writing it in January 2018, it has been read 9000 times. The page comes up as the second offering on google for the search terms ‘take my life God I want to die’. People all over the world, in the privacy of their pain, are coming to Turning the Page for help. That scares me. Not that I don’t think I have something to offer them, but that they are expressing their pain to a machine and not a person. Ok, maybe those that type ‘God I want to die’ into google have reached out to another human soul for help. I hope so, but even in reaching out, there will be other barriers to push through. There is a barrier. Something is stopping the movement to honesty. The barrier of … I’m struggling to find the perfect word to describe this barrier. Could it be the word ‘pride’? Pride is one of those words that gets a bad rap because it takes our mind to the term arrogance, an over-inflated sense of the self. But pride is more devious than that. Pride says in confident tones. ‘You’re not like everyone else. You’re different, and you’re ok. You don’t need help to walk this path.  You can solve this problem. There is nothing in you that needs help.’ Coming at night There is an interesting little story in the Bible about a senior Jewish leader and his communications with Jesus. His name was Nicodemus. Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night John 3:1,2 There was a desired hiddenness to the movements of Nicodemus. He didn’t want to be seen by others in his approach to Jesus. In today’s world, he may well have kept his anonymity, and his soul questions private by searching on Google. We come at night because we are uncertain about the reception of our honesty. Alcoholics Anonymous and all the other similar recovery type groups begin with a ruthlessly honest assessment of pride. ‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.’ We type into Google What do you privately type into Google? What, in the secrecy of coming to Jesus at night, would you ask? I have a short survey form that occasionally people leave their ‘at night’ private comments and questions. They don’t have to leave their name or any contact details, but it is helpful if they do because often I have some gently curious questions I would like to ask. I think if you look at the life of Jesus, he asked a lot of gentle and curious questions, especially to those who came by night. I want to be like that. So here is my ‘and he came by night’ super confidential survey. powered by   Is money a barrier? Another common barrier that stops people from getting the help they need is money. They don’t have the money to be able to afford counseling or therapy. Books and courses cost too much. That is why Turning the Page is funded on a ‘Pay What You Want‘ basis. I don’t want finance to be a barrier to people getting help.   Mental health is ... understanding the barriers we face and seeking a path through themCLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider One of the greatest barriers in seeking help is the stigma that comes with needing it. Courtney Subramanian When man comes into the presence of God he will find, whether he wishes it or not, that all those things which seemed to make him so different from the men of other times, or even from his earlier self, have fallen off. He is back where he always was, where every man always is. C.S. Lewis The proud person always wants to do the right thing, the great thing. But because he wants to do it in his own strength, he is fighting not with man, but with God.  Soren Kierkegaard Questions to answer What barriers hinder or stop you or others from getting help? What part does pride play in stopping the movement to getting help? What questions do you secretly type into Google? Further reading Barry Pearman Image cc: Matthew Garoffolo
There is a resistance we all face into, but with the presence of others, we can know hope. So let’s listen. It felt to her that she was the only one having struggles. Every day, as her eyes peeled open, there was an instantaneous thought ‘Can I do this’? As someone who works outside in the wind and rain, I notice that the ambient surroundings have an effect on me. It might be the heat of the summer or the cold of winter. The mud that clings heavily to my boots in the winter or the brightness of the sun in the heat of summer. There is always a resistance I have to push into. But it’s the wind that truly takes it out of me. Working in a strong wind feels like life is being gouged out of me. You have to push into it to do anything. There is a resistance to movement. It’s tangible and real, but also unseen. Having a mental illness can be like that. It’s always there and you have to push through it. It’s the thoughts and feelings that whistle and roar around your life, but you push on and you awake the next day to face it again. I want to say well done. Resistance Writer Steven Pressfield talks about resistance in his book ‘War of Art’. “Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole.Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get.Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.” Steven Pressfield, The War Of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle There is a resistance that every writer has to push into. Its the push back words you hear in your head ‘Who are you to write anything’. The wind of ‘I don’t have anything to share’ and the hail storm of ‘Who is going to read this anyway’. Right at the place of movement, there is a resistance. Will I move forward or will the wind push me back into nothingness. For mental health, there is a resistance To every moving forward in life, there will be the sensation of a push back. Those winds that strike us every day can eventually wear us down. Like an autumn leaf losing its grip on the tree, it floats away and is lost. Many of the readers of this blog have at times faced hurricanes. The stress load wind storm was too much for them and it crashed them to the ground. Then someone minimized the storm you faced. Given so-called ‘wise advice’ after the tree had been torn from the ground. And now, with the roots ripped out from under you, any little breeze can echo storm warnings. So many times I want to reach out and say a few words. You’re doing OKGood enough is good enoughMillimeters matterWe rebuild togetherWe do it at your paceWe talk about the resistance Religion annoys me I get annoyed and saddened when people consider me as being religious. What I hear them saying is that I am one of those ‘God followers’ who follows all the rules. That religion is all about rules and regulations, having a set of behaviors that you must do. Going to Church on Sunday, reading your Bible, etc. Yet, in terms of following rules, I think every one of us has a religion we follow. A set of rules and beliefs we adhere to. Codes, ethics, and standards are found everywhere, not just in organized religious ‘church’ contexts. Your workplace has a religion to it, so does your sports club. Relationship excites me When Jesus sat down in ‘Church’ with his dirt under the toenails followers he said these words. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus was one who knew all about resistance. He had it in supernaturally large quantities. Every day he was facing into some sort of hurricane. If you want to get all fancy with words, he did it vicariously. That word is a wonderful life-giving word. To be vicarious is to do something on behalf of another. I want a relationship with someone who has been there done that. I don’t want a religion with them. Jesus has broken the wind, like the bow of a ship breaking through the water. We can ride in behind knowing that he has and is going in front of us. Can I sit with you? Many many people simply need to know that they are not alone. That’s all that is required. To have someone say to them that they are doing okay. To not have any heavy burdens or expectations laid on them. To be graced with grace. Can you do this for someone you know?   Mental Health is ... understanding the resistance you face and going through it with someone else. You're not alone in what you face.CLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider Deep happiness is conditional – it doesn’t simply happen. Success in mental/emotional health must be worked at. D. Riddell Something wonderful and beautiful and resilient is within us that no abuse, rejection, or failure can ever destroy. I want us to focus on that. Larry Crabb Comfort is the absence of tension; growth requires a swim in murky, dangerous waters. Dan Allender We are wired to grow, and all growth stretches us beyond our comfort level. Dan Allender Questions to answer What does the word ‘resistance’ mean to you? What are the winds pushing against your movement forward? Who is saying to you ‘You’re doing OK’ and who are you saying this to? Further reading   Image cc: KARTIK GADA
We think our lives have a strength to them, but remove a few Jenga pegs, experience a shock, and we can easily topple to the stress. So we build with each other and find new resilience.  A couple of mornings ago, my son said ‘Nice Jenga Dad.’ I was puzzled, for a moment then I realized he was talking about my dishwashing Jenga. Jenga is a stacking game using perfectly shaped wooden blocks. Then one by one, a peg is removed and placed on the top of the tower until it topples over. It’s a game of skill and engineering. Since the kids were little, we generally wash the dishes and stack them in the dish rack to be put away the next morning. Now some of those dishwashing Jenga stackings can be mighty impressive. Its an art form to squeeze in a pot or two. Chopsticks can be poked in anywhere, but a large serving platter requires courage, wisdom, and a certain level of creativity. Fortunately, where we live, we don’t have earthquakes or many large trucks passing by. So the Jenga stays secure. Your Jenga We all have a Jenga—a way we stack the various parts of our lives. The pegs might be who cooks the meals, washes the dishes, pays the bills. What route you take to work. When you clean your teeth, wash your clothes and the way you stack your groceries. You have preferences, likes, dislikes. Relationship stress with other Jengas also plays a part. How secure, or insecure, those Jengas nearest to you impacts you (pun intended!). You stack it all up, and there is your daily/ weekly life. Mostly it’s pretty secure. It can stand a bit of a wobble, a slight knock here and there. But under pressure But under pressure, one’s Jenga can take a topple. I once knew a man, John, whose life Jenga at one stage was a pile of psychotic pegs thrown about in an Inpatient Mental Health Unit. He had been going well in life. Wife, kids, job, and supportive church life. Loved and respected by all. Sure there were times when he had some thoughts and ideas that seemed to be a bit out of the normal. His wife had some concerns, but then things got back to normal. Then he lost his job. He got made redundant and found he wasn’t needed anymore. The fragile Jenga began to move. It swung, swayed, and eventually crashed. He started to lose sleep. He walked and paced. His sentences didn’t seem to make sense, but he thought he was perfectly OK. ‘Nothing wrong with me,’ he said with grandiose gestures, but there was, and everyone could see it. He was unwell. It could happen to you. We like to think we are invincible, that we can handle anything that comes our way. WRONG. We are all particulates of clay. Our Jenga isn’t perfect, and everyone reacts to stress in different ways. For some, when placed under a huge stress load, it might be high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, headaches. For others, it could be sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, and even psychotic breaks. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, but we are also fragile in our clay. Knowing your Jenga If I was to sit down with you and a pile of Jenga pegs, what words about you would you write on each peg. Job Relationships Finance Faith Family Now, let’s break those categories down even further. The pegs become Work goals Relationship with boss The stress of getting to work Worry about a daughter and her boyfriend Payment of power bill and many other pegs. As you see, the tower grows higher and higher and increasingly fragile. For the most part, you have it all together. Life is good, it’s manageable. But then a knock, a wind, a brush with someone else’s fragile Jenga, and you begin to wobble. A severe enough shake, such as the death of a loved one or a loss of a job, and the tower can shake violently and even crash. It’s then that the tower, with the help of others, has to be rebuilt. We pick up the pieces, examine them, and craft them into the new rebuild. It’s an ‘And next to them’ project. Nehemiah and the Jenga builders ‘Nehemiah and the Jenga Builders’ sounds like an 80’s rock band, doesn’t it, but they are more a recovery group. In my book ‘Broken to built,’ I share devotionals about how an entire city rebuilt their Jenga walls. It’s the story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Next to them Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 10 Next to them Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house; and next to him Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs. Nehemiah 3:9,10 It was a Jenga wall recovery movement of thousands of ‘Next to them’ relationships. Who are you ‘next to.’ Every one of us is standing next to someone’s Jenga and they next to ours. Are we helping them to be secure? Are we working on knowing ourselves and our vulnerabilities to stress? Do we have good strategies in place for reaching out and getting help when it’s needed? Our mental health is probably more fragile than we would like to admit to, so we need to build ‘and next to them’ relationships that foster resilience for when the storms come. John, with the help of others, recovered and rebuilt his Jenga. He now had a more honest and grounded reality in his life. He understood his vulnerabilities and accepted them. His faith was less ‘Woo woo’ and more earthy and honest. He had to review many of his beliefs about God and faith. As he did, he began to become more balanced, stable, and secure.   Mental Health is ... knowing your Jenga and the Jenga of others. How can you build a strong structure?CLICK TO TWEET We think our lives have a strength to them, but remove a few Jenga pegs, experience a shock, and we can easily topple to the stress. So we build with each other and find new resilience. Quotes to consider Assumptions are what make the world go round, but they can also create hell-on-earth until they are exposed and carefully examined. D. Riddell Strength is not the absence of vulnerability. Strength is knowing what your weaknesses are and working with them. Terrence Real The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others. Erik Erikson Questions to answer What are various Jenga pegs in your life? Where are you vulnerable? Some structures need to be broken down in order to be rebuilt. Think of an example where this has happened for you? Further reading A Particulate of Clay takes on COVID-19
We open the heart and then find our trust is broken, but trust is fragile at the best of times, so we are wisely careful with the gift. It’s those secret little internal vows we make that can cause so much damage. As I wrote some words upon a whiteboard, I could see her affirm what I was writing. ‘I’m never going to trust again’. She had opened her heart to someone, and it had got broken badly. She had trusted someone, shared the deep stuff, and now that part of her was locked in a coffin of her own making and was nailed down tight. A vow had been made. The thing is that this exposure wasn’t the first time. Many times as a child, she had reached out in vulnerability only to have her hands slapped. Every time this happened, she formed a belief that this world isn’t safe to venture one’s heart into. The vow was repeated. There are secrets we all carry. Heart stuff that we don’t tell anyone, especially not those closest to us. There is too much at stake. We have a recurring question. ‘If you knew me, would you love me.’ An internal vow is made, and that vow is repeated over and over again by that small inner child within us. We don’t go out to play because its easier and safer to stay inside, where it’s familiar and has controlled sterility to it. But locked rooms become stuffy. There’s no fresh air flowing in. We want and need fresh air to flow into our hearts, but the vows keep the windows shut. We socially isolate ourselves in our self made bubbles. We want to die, and the desire is granted. Something within dies because we were always meant to receive something of life from someone else. Post Eden In this post perfect world (Eden), we still have the lingering wafts of complete intimacy (in-to-me-see). We still have that desire and longing for love and to be known. But it’s no longer a world without weeds. Thorns jag us seemingly every time. People use and abuse. They don’t know how to engage with something so fragile as a heart. Our subconscious gets triggered by ghostly echoes of a former time and place. It happens so quickly and powerfully that everything runs into it. We lock down and lock-in. Trust is a fragile gift. We begin to trust someone, and so we open ourselves to being known. We feel held, and a sense of love begins to grow. A question forms around opening yourself further, sharing more of the deeper stuff? To be held ‘I just want to be held’ were the heart-wrenching words they said. Yes, on one level, they wanted a physical embrace, but more so, they were wanting to held at a heart level. Not everyone knows how to hold. Not everyone is equipped. Most people don’t know what to do and how to respond to the naked exposure of another’s soul. They want to fix, problem solve, spiritualize, and slap band-aids on the pain. Not many people know how to sit in Shiva anymore. Shiva (Hebrew: שִׁבְעָה, literally “seven”) is the week-long mourning period in Judaism for first-degree relatives. Shiva embraces a time when individuals discuss their loss and accept the comfort of others. Wikipedia We all have a loss in our lives. It may not be related to physical death, but it might be the loss of a dream, a relationship, a career, an innocence, an intimacy so desired. To sit in Shiva doesn’t have to be about loss at all. It’s about listening for the dirt gathered under the toenails of living in an outcast world. I’m never going to trust my heart to you because … How would you answer that question? Why do you find trust difficult? You’re not alone, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) holds a part of themselves within themselves where no one can see. One of my favorite writers about inclusion is Miroslav Volv, who I think captures the spirit of Shiva in this passage. ‘An embrace involves always a double movement of opening and closing. I open my arms to create space in myself for the other. The open arms are a sign of discontent at being myself only and of desire to include the other. They are an invitation to the others to come in and feel at home with me, to belong to me. In an embrace I also close my arms around the others – not tightly, so as to crush and assimilate them forcefully into myself, for that would not be an embrace but a concealed power-act of exclusion; but gently, so as to tell them that I do not want to be without them in their otherness. I want them in their openness. I want them to remain independent and true to their genuine selves, to maintain their identity and as such become part of me so that they can enrich me with what they have and I do not’. Judith M Gundry-Volf, Miroslav Volf. A spacious heart: essays on identity and belonging. (Trinity Press International, 1997, 58-59.) How to find someone to trust In grounded reality, you are probably not going to find someone perfect in trust. The best-case scenario is that you’re going to find a flawed image bearer that is honest with their trust issues. Maybe as you become a Shiva trust bearer, you will find someone who can be that to you. The one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. Galatians 6:7 The Message I have found that when I sow tomatoes, I reap tomatoes. As I grow in my ability to be trustworthy to others, I find others who I sense that I can trust. Trust is fragile at the best of times, so we are wisely careful with the gift.   Mental Health ... knowing who to trust and who not to. It takes time and wisdomCLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider The most powerful thing we can do to help someone change is to offer them a rich taste of God’s incredible goodness. Larry Crabb Learn to respond to others with honest, open questions instead of counsel or corrections. With such questions, we help “hear each other into deeper speech. Parker J. Palmer. Handicapped people have a special gift to bring you closer to the heart of God. Their poverty reveals the heart. They teach me that human beings distinguish themselves from the rest of creation not so much by the mind as by the heart. The ability to give and receive love is what makes us human. Henri Nouwen – Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life Only love can soften a hard heart. Only love can renew trust after it has been shattered. Only love can inspire acts of genuine self-sacrifice. Only love can free us from the tyrannizing effects of fear. David G. Benner God is no stranger to the process of repairing damaged relationships. His trust has been broken many times by those he loves. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud  Questions to answer What makes a person trustworthy? What rebuilds trust after it has been broken? Answer the question, ‘I’m never going to trust my heart to you because …’ Further reading Please. No Fixing, Advising, Saving or Straightening Out Why I need to be Inadequate Barry Pearman Image cc: JJ Jordan
Storms of life can hit hard against our mental health, but we can learn to stand firm and even advance. Developing resilience is a practice of strengthing your inner Bulldog. It was quite something as I watched this little goat headbutt a Bulldog. Repeatedly it launched itself at the Bulldog, but the dog stayed firm, resilient, and even advanced into the storm. To me, it spoke of resilience in the face of adversity. What is resilience? Resilience is one of those buzzwords that is popular in Mental Health. Psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. Resilience exists when the person uses “mental processes and behaviors in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors” Wikipedia For this post, it’s the ability to be a bulldog in the face of whatever stressor you are facing. Recently I had a goat try and take me out. It was an old familiar shame pathway that I have been hit by many times, but I could see it and knew what to do. I talked about the problem out and found my inner Bulldog strengthening its hind legs. I advanced, and the shame retreated. Building the Bulldog Know yourselfYou’re not someone else. You are you!What is your reality? We are all uniquely and wonderfully made. Every one of us is different, and we all have our vulnerabilities.I take some medication for my depression.If I feel my depression is getting worse or that I am experiencing Early Warning Signs, then part of my Bulldog wisdom is to talk about my mental health with my Doctor.I hold no shame regarding my taking of medication. My body seems to need it, and that’s ok. Work out of your restI believe many of us have an attitude about work and rest that is kind of mixed up. We see rest as the reward for work. ‘I’ve done enough, so now I can have a rest.’The day begins, for many, at sunrise, and sleep is what is needed to recover. I would like you to consider flipping this around.That the day begins at sunset when you go to sleep, and that you work out of your rest.That you have one day a week for solid Bulldog resting. On this day, you completely rest. You plan so that on that day you don’t even have to cook a meal.It’s called a Sabbath, and its what the Jews practice. A ceasing to restore and build resilience. Do what you canIn our head butting world, you are going to come up against lots of experiences and challenges that you can’t do much about.I can’t solve other’s problems for them, and I don’t want to rescue people from experiences that they need to learn from. But there are somethings that I do have power over so in these I will act.Knowing what I can do and what I can’t empowers me to be able to act and to move forward. Insights book/ journalSomething a counselor suggested for me to do to build my inner Bulldog was to have a small book in which I wrote by hand little self reminders and insights. In my little book, I have encouragements, reminders to tell myself.My mother had hers written on the front inner sleeve of her Bible.Here are some of mine.What I focus on gets me. Focus on the negatives/ challenges will always take me down. Focus on the positives/ good things will always give me hope.The subconscious can be reprogrammed through cognitive assessments.A feeling of hopelessness, no matter how strong, is an echo and perception from the past and is not how things really are.    The point is to have this little book readily accessible for those much needed quick reminders of truth. What worked then will more than likely work again. Millimeter stepsNotice that the Bulldog didn’t rush at the goat?Instead, he marched a few small steps ahead, stood his ground, and waited for the next attack. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your brain’s neural pathways weren’t either.Building resilience is a millimeter ministry of you creating and maintaining neural pathways that, over time, will become superhighway.New behaviors replace old, and they become so familiar that they are automatic. Dig in deep dailyCreate a time every day where you dig in deep to what fills your soul. It may be reading your Bible, listening to music, being still, meditating, pondering over poetry, or writing your heart into a journal.When you feed the inner Bulldog, it grows muscle for the next storm. Be a friendWe need others, and they need us. We can listen to the storms they are facing and how their inner Bulldog is doing.I glean so much strength myself when I see others facing into there goats. It tells me that I can do it too.I praise their inner Bulldogishness.I say, ‘Go get hmm boy/girl.’Tails twitch, tongues hang out, and bellies are exposed for a playful scratch. Storms of life can hit hard against our mental health, but we can learn to stand firm and even advance. Developing resilience is a practice of strengthing your inner Bulldog.   Mental Health is ... built by nurturing your inner bulldog resilience.CLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. Margaret Thatcher Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. Nelson Mandela I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it. Maya Angelou Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems. Gever Tulley Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. Nelson Mandela Questions to answer What are the ‘little goats’ that keep trying to break you down? What does a ‘millimeter’ step forward look like for you in building resilience? How much does rest factor in your life and your resilience to tough times? Further reading Barry Pearman Image cc: Sébastien LAVALAYE
At times we can seem so small and vulnerable like a speck of clay, but joined together, we can take on the challenges such as COVID 19. Let’s bind together for our Mental Health. ‘Particulate’ is an interesting word. It refers to a minute separate particle. In a cup of flour, the particulates would be every little particle of flour, different of itself but essential in the whole. Back in the eighties, I studied Agriculture, and one of the classes I took was soil science. We studied rocks and minerals, silt, sand, and clay. Out of the soil come the very foundations of our existence. ‘Healthy soil = healthy food = healthy people’ was the 1942 mantra of J.I. Rodale.  A particulate of clay I learned that clay is quite different from sand and silt. First of all, a particulate of clay, the smallest particle, is super tiny. Relative-size-of-sand-silt-and-clay-particlesThe second aspect of clay is its unique shape. It’s flat, like a dinner plate or a piece of paper. Its size and shape give clay its strength. All those plate-like surfaces can sit on top of each other, create friction, and bind themselves together. Whereas the ball-like shape of silt and sand means that they have less surface contact with each other. So they can roll and not bind. Water passes through the gaps, hence silty and sandy soils are regarded as free-draining soils. Particulates of clay bind themselves together to form the coffee cup you’re holding, the foundations of a bridge you’re walking on, and the bricks surrounding your home. Clay is powerful, yet it also tiny. A pinch of clay When I was a pastor, I was invited into many clay awareness moments. A loved one had died, and people were brought to the reality of their mortality. That the body is fragile and a container. With words such as ‘dust to dust, ashes to ashes’ I accompanied people into an awareness of our grounded earthy existence. There is a character in the Bible by the name of Job. His story is one of earthy mortality. He loses health, wealth, family. It was like a ‘cosmic courtroom drama’ (Mike Mason) being played out over his life. In his clay, he speaks his existence and ours. Behold, I am toward God as you are;I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.  Job 33:6 Mental health and clay In talking with those who have come to an awareness of mental illness, the ones who make the most progress in their recovery are those who fully embrace fragility. Not in a victim mode or a ‘Woah is me’ mindset, but in a healthy coming to terms with the truth. They recognize that their bodies, the clay, can only take so much pressure/ stress and that eventually, the cup will break. The depression will swamp over; the psychosis will voice itself; the anxiety will shake its claw. Those who recover and build resilience to future earthquakes are ones who embrace their earthiness. They know the limits of the body. They become aware of the need for sleep, exercise, nutrition. Clay in the face of COVID As I write this, the world is in the torment of a pandemic. COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the clay of our lives. It is no respecter of man. From Kings and Queens, Presidents, and Prime Ministers to the homeless and elderly, it is on a death march. People are becoming aware that they are vulnerable to something they can’t see, feel, and touch. That something so small  (smallest particles are 0.06 microns, and the largest are 0.14 microns) can destroy us all. That we are not gods, we have limited power, and we are vulnerable. However, there is something we can do, and it’s found in the shape of clay. Bind us together That plate-like structure of a particulate of clay gives us the ability to be strong. The power of clay is that unified it is strong. Sand and silt are like freewheeling rolling balls of individuality. Clay binds together. We face a common enemy, and a common enemy needs a common approach. So we all self-isolate. We stay in our isolation bubbles, wash our hands, and we pray that the God of clay who, with incarnational presence, got dirt in toenails, will help us all. We may not be able to have our usual face to face, clay to clay conversations, but we can still connect online, on the phone, or singing from the balcony. There is a common humanity we need to share in. On the curbside Yesterday I took our rubbish up to the curb to be collected. A mother and her daughter were walking past on the other side of the road. The road was very quiet because of the lockdown. I greeted them with a cheery and happy hello. They responded with equal friendliness. Then they asked me if I was living alone. I was puzzled by this response but told them that there were four others living in my bubble with me. Then I realized that they thought that I was being super friendly because I hadn’t seen anyone for some time. Lonely people, I have found, often talk a lot when given the opportunity. I then explained that I like to be friendly, and it’s not every day these days that you can have a chat with a total stranger. We had a brief conversation, and then they continued in their walk. That is what clay particulate joining with clay particulate looks like. Its a conversation across the balconies, an encouraging word to stay healthy, a video chat with a friend across the other side of the world. Whatever you can safely do to connect with the clay of another will help.   Mental health is ... coming to terms with our clay and the clay of others.CLICK TO TWEET Quotes to consider The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer The race of mankind would perish did they cease to aid each other. We cannot exist without mutual help. Walter Scott Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:” What! You too? I thought I was the only one. C.S. Lewis Questions to answer How vulnerable are you feeling at the moment as a particulate of clay? How can you bind with another particulate of clay? What would it be like to reach out to a total stranger in your isolated neighborhood today? Further reading and next to them What the World needs now is Courage and Compassion Love heals. Indifference Kills. What do you most need? Would you Know my TRUE Name   Barry Pearman Image cc: Austin Ban
It’s an isolated world, well, sort of, but it’s one that needs courage and compassion if we are going to create connection. Today as I write this, is it our first day of mandatory nationwide lockdown in New Zealand due to the spread of the Corona Virus. People have been told to stay at home. There is an eerie quietness to where we live. The motorway a few kilometers provides no hum. Two words keep coming to my thinking: courage and compassion. Courage I think of all those who hold positions of authority in our world. The courageous decisions they have had to take. Closing borders, shutting down economies, enforcing lockdowns. Some of the leadership decisions were not made in time; some decisions were made well. There is also the courage required in you and me in our everyday lives. We face the issue, and we do the right thing. We do the best we can. The word courage has its roots in the Latin word cor, which literally means “heart.” People all over the world may well be losing heart at the moment, losing their sense of courage. Seeing the overwhelming horror of this pandemic can cause a degradation of the soul—a whittling away of our life. Courage is needed by all to reach out to our neighbor and say you’re not alone. Compassion We’re not going to get everything right. Somethings we do in this world war will be successful others will fail. Will we be compassionate towards the leaders who will get it wrong? Will you be compassionate towards yourself in this time of crisis. Self-compassion absorbs the failures and forgives the self. It says you’re doing ok and that you’re loved. Compassion is the venue where we can sit with each other and say you’re not alone. Social isolation in a time of loneliness About eight years ago, I used to do door-to-surveying for a research company. I was given a specific neighborhood and told to survey every third house. There were also many other rules to my surveying to make sure I got a very accurate representation of the people living in the neighborhood. The one thing that surprised me the most was the number of people living by themselves. In the latest census, New Zealand has  405,000 people living by themselves. Now add in the fact that due to the pandemic, you can’t have your regular social activities where you can mix and mingle, and you’re heading towards more anxiety and depression. We need each other for good mental health. We were never meant to be alone. We may get through this through physical isolation, but we will be poorer and sicker if we don’t have a social connection. Connection needs courage and compassion In my gardening business, I work for many people who live by themselves. Age, illness, disability all in some way contribute to their need for someone to come and prune, weed, and tidy. So I am going to keep in connection with them. I have compassion for their potential social isolation and the courage they will need to face into this. I’m going to ring them and have a chat. Who in your social network needs you to connect with them? It could be a phone call, an email, a meeting over the internet. I recently sent out an offer (totally free) to all my email subscribers to have a chat or video call with me on the internet. If you want to chat, email me. It’s been so good to meet many of them for the first time. For me to get to know them and their situation. They learn a bit more about me too! Here’s the challenge Who, in your life, needs your connection? It might be the stranger, the neighbor, the friend, and even the enemy. Remember, you’re not there to necessarily solve their problems. What most people want is to know someone is there for them. Quotes to consider Courage is like—it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging. Mary Daly It takes courage to respond to the invitation to share one’s self with another person. David G. Benner Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ”What! You too? I thought I was the only one. C.S. Lewis  Loneliness isn’t the physical absence of other people it’s the sense that you’re not sharing anything that matters with anyone else. Johann Hari   To end loneliness, you need other people—plus something else. You also need to feel you are sharing something with the other person, or the group, that is meaningful to both of you. You have to be in it together—and “it” can be anything that you both think has meaning and value. Johann Hari Compassion for yourself is where you start when things are tough, not where you stop. Rick Hanson Compassion means entering the suffering of another in order to lead the way out.  Rosaria Champagne Butterfield Questions to answer What can we do in this time of social isolation to enable a safe social connection? Who are you being prompted to get in touch with? How are you compassionate to yourself in these stressful times? Further reading   Barry Pearman Image cc: Toa Heftiba  
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