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Just My Thoughts – Mind Matters

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
March 24 2021

Sometime last April, one of those Facebook memes floated by my distracted attention span, but really spoke to me.  It read: Welcome to 2020.  If you do not yet have an anxiety disorder, one will be assigned to you.

At the time, we were in the throes of it; trying to make our own hand sanitizer and figuring out if we were skilled enough to sew our own face masks. And although I remember laughing when I read it, I also remember thinking that the only reason it was comical is because it was 100% true. Because I also remember standing in our garage about the same time trying to decide if I should wipe down every item I just purchased at the grocery store, and then freaking myself out at the thought of using up all of those (then) coveted disinfecting wipes!

Panic.

Stress.

Insomnia.

Call it by many names, but its title is Anxiety.   And in the past 12 or 13 months, we’ve all experienced it. But let’s be honest, we’ve also experienced some other things; sadness, helplessness, depression, hopelessness…

Raise your hand if some morning amidst this pandemic, you rolled over in your snuggly bed to see the sun glowing out the window and smiled internally at the thought of a lovely day ahead to enjoy, only to be gobsmacked by the reality slowing sinking into your sleepy brain that you’d only be enjoying that sunshine from the safety of your own porch or patio.

Pandemics are hard.

Life – in general – is often times really hard.

Life IN a pandemic…well, it’s downright …um … uh … I don’t even KNOW the appropriate word.

And yet, here we all still are.  Trying to keep putting one day after the next, in spite of the fact that human beings are not meant to live and function like this.

Here is what I DO KNOW though:

  • If you’re reading this you’re still here too – albeit in some varied state of general OK-ness.
  • Some of us are more OK than others. And some of us started out in this pandemic less OK than others.
  • And this is the big one – your church family cares about your OK-ness!

Honestly, we care so much about your general OK-ness that we signed on to be a WISE congregation within the UCC a few years back. In case you missed it, a WISE congregation has joined the mission to being Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged in the Mental Health of the community and the wider world. The objective is to encourage our congregations to become more welcoming of those living with mental health challenges, to expand our inclusion of those who are living with mental health challenges, to be supportive of all who are affected by mental health conditions, and to engage in ways to live our commitment to be W.I.S.E. about mental health.

Funny thing is that back in the naïve days of 2018 when we became WISE, no one knew just how important this would be after the year that was 2020.

Next week we are launching a brand new program at First Central, called Mind Matters. Because, you know, there just isn’t quite enough going on during Holy Week! But see…?  That’s just HOW IMPORTANT this really is.

On the first Thursday of each month, Mind Matters: Safe Conversations About Mental Health will be presented (for now) on ZOOM at 7 PM.   Our goal is just as it states – to create a safe space for open discussions about mental health issues in the midst of our congregation and in the broader community.  For our inaugural meeting, Pastor Jim Harmon and Pastor Charlene Wozny will lead our discussion about life during and after the pandemic and how our mental health may have been impacted. (Amongst other things…they are still working vociferously as I write.)

I invite you to consider joining in! Going forward, we might read and discuss books on various mental health topics. We might have guest speakers to enlighten us to various points of view on mental health issues. We might be inspired by the group discussion to tackle a tough topic of your own suggestion.  We will FOR SURE be welcoming, inclusive, supportive and engaged into your well being while you are in attendance.