It's good to talk
One of the biggest hurdles people face within the Church community is opening up about difficulties they are facing. For some, pitching up to a Church service on a Sunday morning feels like a place where you have to put on your emotional “Sunday best”. It can be hard to speak about challenging experiences when those around us seem fresh, happy and buzzing with energy. There may be a fear of judgement, rejection and stigmatisation if we open up about our struggles.
The periods of lockdown this year have had wide-ranging effects on our various networks, including at work and at home. If we are being honest, within most workplaces we tend to put on a mask, to varying degrees, so it is not easy by any means to have an authentic conversation about our emotional wellbeing.
For those of us that live with family members, the time we spend together has gone up no end. This might bring opportunities for us to have meals together and exhaust out creative juices in entertaining each other. It can also be really hard for some people to spend so much time with their loved ones, particularly if relationships have already suffered damage.
This brings us on to our community networks, of which our church communities are an important example (in addition to other faith groups, sports and social clubs and...yes, pubs). Their importance cannot be underestimated. Amongst other things, they are a key problem-solving resource and help us to contain and cope with adversity, probably much more than we fully appreciate.
The impact of not being able to come together for communal worship cannot be underestimated. We have lost a crucial mechanism for dealing with challenges at a time of great uncertainty and real distress. There is something cruel about the fact that when we need community most, it is hard to reach for so many.
This emphasises the importance of finding novel ways to remain connected to your local church community. There are times when we may need to step up to the plate and give a little or a lot - of our time, energy and material resources - but let’s not be ashamed to put up our hands, reach to others and ask for support, prayer and guidance. That’s what friends are really for.