TGIF with Ingrid
July 6, 2018
This week I am thinking about mental health. If you are a living, breathing human person, I trust that this has been on your mind at some point too. Likely you, or someone in your inner circle of family and friends, has faced a mental health crisis or a long-term diagnosis that seeps into all facets of life.
Our metal health and wellness begins at our first breath (likely before that) and carries right on through to our last breath (and perhaps beyond?). It is a piece of our overall health and wellness for our entire lives and we are juuuuuust beginning, as a society, to recognize this and take it seriously.
What I am Trusting
This week, as we finish the last bit of preparation for Summer Day Camp at St. G’s next week, I am keenly aware of how mental health is affected from events in our childhood – even as we move and function as adults. I know that some mental health challenges are triggered by traumatic events, and others are to do with chemicals and connections in the brain. Regardless of how and why these challenges arise, I think that childhood experiences that root and ground us in love and belonging dramatically change our outcomes if (when) we encounter these problems.
In the United Church of Canada, I have heard story after story of Summer Camp and Day Camp programs being a life-line for children who experience bullying, incredible pressures, and flat out rejection at school and/or at home.
I pray and trust that next week, as we welcome more than 30 (!) children into the doors of St. George’s, we can provide a place where they are assured of their place of belonging and assured that they are loved.
What I am Grateful For
I am so incredibly grateful for the help and support that I and other members of my family have received through the years with regards to mental wellness. And grateful to be able to pass along what has so freely been given – to act as a conduit through which God’s love and healing can infiltrate the world that so desperately needs it. I am grateful for the countless souls who stay up late monitoring crisis lines; for the outreach and social workers, the police officers and firefighters and paramedics that are often the first points of contact; the doctors who take seriously the patients brave enough to cry in their offices. Grateful for the everyday folks who notice when someone doesn’t show up somewhere and follows up in tender care.
What Inspires Me
Wednesday I had the privilege of spending the day with some fantastic youth and young adults who have totally inspired me. Three of them are the co-ordinators for the Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery Summer Day Camp program that travels from church to church, starting with St. G’s, through the summer offering faith-based programming, one week at a time. One is our new Summer Student Assistant at St. G’s, plus four other youth volunteers. We spent the day together in prayer, reflection, play, exploration, leadership development, and storytelling.
I got to spend a lot of time with this age group in the last church I served, and Wednesday reminded me of how much I love and appreciate the way youth think and see the world (and how much I miss that work sometimes!). I am so thrilled that we have such enthusiasm and generosity in our midst and can feel the Holy Spirit stirring something incredible. I cannot wait to see what comes to be!!
How I am Practicing My Faith
This week, and likely next week too, I am living into my faith through play. I am introducing the children at St. G’s to Flat Jesus (a faith-based play on the popular book Flat Stanley). This week they will colour their own Flat Jesus to take along with them on their Summer adventures…because even if you aren’t at church every week, Jesus is there with you! I want kids (and grown ups too!) to remember that everywhere we go there is room to pause and remember that we are all precious children of God, that our picture is on God’s fridge, that there is nothing we can do that can separate us from the love of God.
And that God likes to play too! Silliness with our stories and exploration of our faith in weird and quirky ways no doubt pleases the God who created puppies and otters and seven year old boys and other playful rascals.
And truth be told, I know that my own mental well-being is greatly served through play.
How can you play today?