Monday, April 30, 2018

Mental Health

I had a friend who would sometimes say, "I need a mental health day!" and would take a day off from work. I commend her for recognizing when she needs to take time for herself. Not everyone has the privilege of being able to do that, but for those who can it's a good practice.
I'm not saying this will cure mental illnesses. Of course it won't. In many cases, medication and/or therapy will be necessary. But for those who do not have a diagnosed mental illness, taking time for yourself is a good preventative measure. 
Here at Trinity we've just started reading "Blessed Are the Crazy" by Sarah Griffith Lund. Many were put off by the title because it seems to support the stigma that people with mental illnesses are "crazy." We all agreed they are not. They have a physical illness like cancer or diabetes. But mental illnesses are very complex and they affect people's mood and demeanor. That's why it's so hard NOT to label them as "crazy" or "weird."
But they are not. They are God's children and they have an illness which means they need help, and they need compassion. 
I was impressed and deeply moved by how bravely several individuals shared their own history with mental illnesses. This I believe is where we need to begin: by talking about it. By learning about people's experiences and recognizing the immense suffering they go through. The shame that's associated with it. How it can be incredibly isolating when you feel misunderstood. 
We talked about what helped them through it, and the support of family and friends was mentioned. 
That's where we as people of faith come in: we can support individuals with mental illnesses by listening, being patient and compassionate.
More and more people are dealing with anxiety and depression. More and more young people! This is an epidemic that we cannot ignore. 
There's so much more to this: Our mental health care system, for example. Anyone who has had to deal with it could tell story after story about how frustrating it is to find help. 
But for now, let's start talking about mental illnesses. Let's start talking about our own struggles and where we find hope and healing. 
For more information on mental illnesses, check out this link:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Created in God's Image

On Earth Day we read the story of how God created humankind: Genesis 1:26-31.
"God created humankind in God's image; male and female God created them. [...] God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good."
When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see "very good?" 
If not, let me remind you that you are. Because God said so.
We talked a little bit about what that means, being created in God's image. Some said it means we are different than the animals, we have a special role. We are supposed to be like God, as much as humanly possible. We were created pure. 
Do you have an image of God in your mind? Do you imagine God looking a certain way? Is it the "old man upstairs?"
But if God created male and female in God's image that means God is as much female as male.
To me, God is neither. God doesn't really have a face. God is love and spirit, creativity and presence. God is good. And God created us the same way: to love, to be creative, to be good and do good. And to be connected to God, to the Great Spirit. We are material beings: We have bodies that get hurt and that age and that eventually will die. But we are also spiritual beings. We have a spirit that connects directly to God's spirit, and to all life. 
In Genesis 1:28, God tells humankind to rule over the earth. There's that special role that we were given.
To rule also means to have responsibility. To take care of. That's what God calls us to do: To be God's presence in this world, and to care for all living beings. 
I said yesterday: That's a big responsibility we didn't ask for. But God thinks we can do it or God wouldn't have given it to us. 
We are very good. We are not bad or evil or ugly. And the world needs us.
God help us! 

Monday, April 9, 2018

My Body, A Temple

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?"  1 Corinthians 6:19

Jesus was raised from the dead in his physical body. He was changed somehow. His closest friends did not recognize him. But according to the Gospel of John, chapter 20, his disciples knew him when he showed them the wounds in his hands and side. 
Jesus' body was maimed and injured. The resurrection did not take that away. Those injuries made him who he was: The beloved of God, and the victim of humanity's hatred and violence.
Some of the wounds we acquire in this lifetime stay with us, and make us who we are.

But we are more than that. We are more than physical bodies, injured, ailing, aging, imperfect. 
We are God's temple. We are not our own. We are God's. 

I believe everything we have was given us by God, and it was given with a purpose and a responsibility. Our bodies deserve care and reverence, as any sacred space. Our bodies are God's way of being present in this world. They are vessels of God's love and temples of the holy Spirit. God wants us to use them to build God's reign in this world. 

How would you live if you believed that?