As a congregation member of mine put it one time, “Everything’s just a little bit bad.” You know the feeling. It’s not as bad as it could be but things aren’t great and you need a boost. Here are five things that have helped me during a rough patch.
I’m sharing this because recently my spiritual director created a ritual for me, bringing closure to a long, painful process that started years ago. Without going into details, it derailed my confidence, worth and questioned my abilities. When this situation was recently brought up again, all those feelings came flooding back. I’m a fan of ritual. In fact, I think Anabaptist churches often don’t do enough of them. While I originally talked about a ritual in jest, my spiritual director made it happen. I felt more closure than I have in a long time. By making something happen outwardly, I felt inward release. If you’ve found ritual helpful in the past, you may find yourself a part of a worshiping community that may need your encouragement to incorporate more. Your voice is valuable. If you’re in need of ritual, talk to a pastor, spiritual director, friend or therapist about what might be meaningful for you. No idea is too big or small.
Do you ever need to sit in your feelings? I’ve spent a lot of years in therapy learning to live and breathe in how I feel and not stuff, ignore or invalidate how I’m feeling. The key is being able to not only notice and feel it, but eventually allow it to pass when the time is right. I recently created a playlist for those times when you’re “in” it. But maybe more importantly, I created a playlist for when you’re coming out of it. One of these songs is a ’90s song by Jennifer Knapp (taking it back old school, I know) singing “Martyrs and Thieves.” The line that sticks out to me each time is “Could it be that my worth should depend/By the crimson stained grace on a hand?” When you start to realize your worth doesn’t rely on what you do or how others see you, this is a greatly affirming feeling, and not one you want to stuff down.
3. More songs
I hope you’re the type of person who loves, celebrates and honors your body for all it does for you. All bodies are good bodies. If this type of thinking is difficult for you (as it is for me), and hey, even if it isn’t, please listen to “Victoria’s Secret” by Jax. If you’ve ever starved yourself, ignored your appetite or cried when your body didn’t look like a Victoria’s Secret or Abercrombie and Fitch model, listen to this song and remember that the person behind making you feel this way is an old man who lives in Ohio. As the song says, “I know Victoria’s Secret; it was made up by a dude.” It’s a bop and if you do anything with this list this week, please give it a listen.
4. Uplifting documentaries
I love documentaries, and there are an abundance of ones that are incredibly sad, promoted because they are sensational. If you’re looking for less sensational and more uplifting, I found one such story in Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution on Netflix. This is a nickname given by campers for Camp Jened, a camp for people with disabilities in upstate New York. A Sundance winner and produced by the Obamas, many of the campers went on to be activists for disability rights after being empowered over a series of summers. Be advised there are mentions of both drugs and sexuality (it was the ’60s). If you’re looking for ways to talk about disability rights in your congregations, I recently wrote a study guide for Anabaptist Disabilities Network that can be used in congregations and small groups.
There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself some dopamine by having a bit of chocolate. And when you need CHOCOLATE chocolate, as in, you’re just looking for a soft, fluffy vehicle for getting more chocolate to your taste buds, try these chocolate chocolate chip cookies from Love from the Oven. They’re soft, melty, easy and hopefully a lift for your spirits.