I have enough trouble keeping up with my wedding anniversary that I cannot not remember other dates like Mental Health Month. Forgive me if I am bringing the topic up early, but my spirit is guiding me to share my thoughts on mental health.
Yes, we all need good mental health. It is far easier to state that than it is to achieve a healthy mind and spirit. I realize that, as a pastor, I cannot heal myself, because for one I don't have the advanced training that a mind like mine needs. Secondly, I know that I will never be totally honest with myself; that is how it is in life. I need the help and support of one called into the mental health field.
I am not bragging or whining; I am simply sharing that, throughout my ministry, I have made opportunities to be in a relationship with experienced and gifted counselors. It all began with a man named Don Ziemba at GAPC (now CCC of Ga). Don helped me to discover some deeply-hidden issues that weren't so hidden. He helped me to see that I might be an okay person. Since that time, I have been in and out of counseling. When I became a DS, I knew that I needed the support of a wise and competent non-biased individual. I owe a great deal to the man who listens to me each month and helps me see a way through.
This is not True Confessions or National Enquirer, but simply a testimony to state that it is totally acceptable to admit our weaknesses and our need for guidance. Didn't Paul say, something to the effect that when we are weak God is strong? My heart aches for the load I know that many of you are caring. I long to be there for you, but realize I don't have all the answers you might need. I want to encourage you to seek out a counselor and to have a wise and learned one walk with you.
We are blessed in the Atlanta Emory District to have Care and Counseling Center of Georgia within our bounds. The men and women who serve at CCC of GA are dedicated to offering support in a private and confidential manner. There may be a "Don" there for you. We also have one of our own in private practice; Rev. Dr. Melissa Sexton is a Pastoral Psychotherapist for individuals and families. You can reach her at 678-640-2726.
Also, I encourage you in your counseling to refer when the issues become too much. You and I know well that we were trained only so far in this very important area of ministry. The biggest take-away from those studies is to know when to refer. You may refer your people to either of the two above and rest assured they will be in great hands.
There is no shame ... there is no excuse; take care of yourself please. You are so important to me and to your family and to The United Methodist family.
Here's to you,