Theres a great picture on Facebook the outline of a head, with an internal repeating Help me, help me filling the space and an external No really, Im fine!
Many of us know those conversations. We ask how someone is and hear Im fine even when were pretty sure that is far from the truth. Counsellors have a very cheeky acronym for FINE not for publication in a church journal! We perhaps have a recognition that this word may be a huge cover up in many situations. If you asked me today how I am I might tell you that I am sad, if I think you would be willing to listen and not rush on. Recent bereavements have naturally resulted in sadness. It will pass and I will bounce back, but there is nothing wrong with honesty about feeling.
I often wonder about what leads Christian people to pretend that all is well, when it patently is not.Do we have some weird idea that we should not feel the tough things of life? Do we imagine that with Gods help we can overcome anything that life throws at us? Perhaps we imagine that clergy and other ministers should somehow be above all that. Perhaps acknowledging that our pain, fear, or anxiety is very real leaves us feeling very vulnerable and expecting some form of judgement.
Id like to suggest to you that in our current climate of a society daring to speak about mental health, to own the truth about what we experience, and to seek support and health, these are steps towards wellbeing. We are committed in Newcastle diocese to offer clergy and licensed lay leaders a supportive, willing, qualified and experienced team who will listen and stay with you through tough times. As Gods people we could be so much better at listening with care, and perhaps asking twice How are you?. Perhaps as Gods people we could also respond with authenticity, and together grow in better care of one another.
Join our Diocesan Facebook Wisdom for Wellbeing group as we journey together through Lent with daily reflections @ncldiocese