The North Georgia Conference
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Each month we will bring you new resources to provide support around your wellbeing now and in the future. Be sure to bookmark or print these resources for easy reference.

Meaningful Moment  |  A quote from Maya Angelou
Just Checking In  | Where do you belong?
Dear Lindsay  |  Social media boundaries
What We’re Talking About  |  May is Mental Health Month
Conference Resources  |  Review of previously released resources

Meaningful Moment

Image reads "You are only free when you realize you belong no place - you belong everyplace - no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great." Maya Angelou

Just Checking In

Where do I belong? This question permeates my thoughts more frequently in the last few months as it feels like the world continues to shift around us. 

With all the change happening in our lives (and the world) right now, you might be wrestling with where you belong. We often connect our identity to things outside of ourselves. Which group do I fit in? How does that define me? What if we don’t want the old version of church but want a new one? What if we feel more connected in one facet of our identity than another? How do we define who we are and find our sense of belonging? 

The most common question lately: do I belong in my pre-pandemic or post-pandemic lifestyle? Part of me wants to hold onto the slower way of life while other days I miss the busyness of connecting with people all over town. 

There are so many questions like these that flood our thoughts. Do I feel like I belong more in this appointment or the next one? Do I belong in my immediate family or my new family? Do I belong in the Republican or Democratic party? Do I belong more on the conservative or progressive side of the UMC? Can I belong in the gray and uncertainty or do I need concrete answers? 

But when asking, “Where do I belong?” what if there isn’t a specific answer? In an interview with Bill Moyers in 1973, Maya Angelou said, “You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

What would it be like to hold one another up in this place of not knowing? A place where there aren’t defined edges and clear categories to fit in, but internal belonging. 

In Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, Brené Brown writes, “True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” 

Belonging isn’t about fitting in. We belong when we finally belong to ourselves and understand our belonging with God. When we are okay with who we are, what we believe. It is not that we can’t ever grow and change. But we must accept ourselves, rather than simply try to fit in, to truly love ourselves. 

As you head into a season of transition (appointments, pandemic, etc.), remember that belonging is more than achieving or fitting in. It’s not about labels. It is about belonging to ourselves. It’s about having courage to be vulnerable and step into unknown or uncertain spaces as we trust God and trust ourselves. 

Remember that you belong every place. You belong no place. You belong to yourself and to God. 

Grateful for you,

Dear Lindsay

Welcome to the newest section in our monthly newsletter! It’s our version of “Dear Abby.” Here you can submit any questions you might have about wellbeing resources or seek recommendations on how to handle personal or congregational situations. Submit your entry below and we’ll feature one each month! 
Ask Lindsay

Dear Lindsay,
     I often see rude, mean, and racist comments made by church members, family, and social media friends on news articles and other posts online. It hurts to read these comments and hurts to know that many of these people identify them self as a Christian. I don’t want to remove myself from social media. I don’t want to stop reading news articles from sources like the AJC. I want to address it, but not just add to the chaos and digital screaming on social media. What’s a healthy choice for addressing the people I know who are making harmful public statements on social media?
     -Exhausted by Social Media Chaos


Dear Exhausted by Social Media Chaos,

During this past year, a lot of us have spent more time on social media as we’ve been at home. And during that time, we’ve seen so many bold and hurtful comments on the internet—especially by people we know. Part of that is due to the heightened conversation around “freedom of speech” that has led people to believe they have a right to say anything, even if it’s hurtful. The other part is that with extended time sheltering at home, we haven’t exercised our socialization skills and we have forgotten that real people are on the receiving end of the hurtful comments. Instead, we just start sharing all our thoughts out loud (through typing) without visualizing being friends with that person and sitting across from them.

I appreciate your self-awareness to make sure you don’t add to the chaos of the internet when addressing this. A great first step could be utilizing the pulpit to talk about the importance of dialogue between people online. Preach about how our words and actions represent us as individuals, the church, and the kingdom of God as a whole. You don’t have to call out anyone individually while reminding the congregation that everyone can see those comments and it impacts both evangelism and our relationships within our congregation. Next, with prayer and discernment, decide if you want to have a conversation individually with the people making these rude comments online. It is important to not shame them; instead, ask them why it was important that they comment on that particular social media post. What is the purpose behind it? What is the point of engaging? What did they hope the outcome would be?

Teach people that if they want to engage with others online, start by asking questions. Questions to clarify and to learn. Questions not to accuse, but to grow and understand. And when asking these questions to learn from others, instead of immediately dismissing their point of view or saying they’re wrong for their beliefs, help people ask themselves: is it more important to be right or in healthy community with one another? 

(Racist comments are additional layer to address. I’ll share more comments on this next month. It deserves a response all to itself.)

As you reflect on your own boundaries and self-care, ask yourself why it is important that you address and confront these rude comments on social media. Do you want to make sure people stay safe? Do you want to be sure your congregants know your position on the subject? Do you want to be right? And besides your own motivations to address these rude comments, be sure to know what boundaries you need to uphold for your own self-care. Snooze the individuals on Facebook or unfollow them (not unfriend). This will remove their posts on your news feed. And if you want to create some additional boundaries, you can create separate social media accounts to only follow news outlets to avoid rude comments and the comparison game. Some people have found this helpful to not get rid of all social media, but to stay connected on modified terms.

Overall, rude comments on social media are painful to see – and even more painful to receive. I’m glad that you’re looking for ways to keep yourself and your congregation healthy. 

Grateful for you,


What We're Talking About – Recommendation of the Month!

Each month we will share some of our favorite wellbeing resources.

Resources & Key Information for May Mental Health Month:
Mental Health & COVID:
Re-Entry Anxiety articles:

New Resources

Each month we will link new resources we have created to support your wellbeing now and in the future. Be sure to bookmark or print these resources for easy reference.

This month, instead of releasing new resources, I encourage you to look back at some of the previously released resources in the section below and do some planning around Mental Health Month for May! There are great resources in the section above from Mental Health America and key mental health websites with current statistics on the Wellbeing website. Catch up on what you’ve missed to prepare for this upcoming season of transition for yourself, your congregations, and providing education around mental health. 

WE WANT YOU! Do you have a great resource we need to know about? We are compiling resource lists of virtual/in-person grief groups, therapists, spiritual directors, and clergy coaches. Also, we are building lists of recovery resource groups in each district, so if you know of great active AA/NA/CA/Celebrate Recovery groups (or any others) in your area, please share them with us

Previously Released Conference Resources

All resources can be found at any time on the NGUMC Wellbeing website.

Key Mental Health Websites
Ambiguous Loss Rituals
"A Weary World Rejoices" worship resources to help you take a Sunday off
Holiday Conversation Starters
Stages of Grief resource
Tips to Manage through the Holiday Season
A Walking Meditation guide 
Rest & Renewal Plan
Reflection Guide for Rest and Renewal
100 Self-Care Ideas 
A Moment of Reflection journal template 
Letter to SPRC Chairs (October 2020)
Crisis Hotline Numbers
How to Find a Therapist video
How to Find a Therapist guide
Recommended Podcasts

Season 2 of “Not Alone: Faith and Mental Health” Podcast

Want to keep talking about topics of wellbeing and how they fit into our faith journey? Join Rev. Michael McCord, Director of the Georgia UMCommission, Evan DeYoung, a campus minister, and Rev. Lindsay Geist, a licensed clinical social worker, as they walk together through a life of faith and wellbeing. Find Not Alone on your favorite podcast platform.

Apple Podcasts
Podcast homepage

Key Contact Numbers

For a printable list of Mental Health and Substance Use crisis numbers, click here.

Additionally, the Georgia COVID-19 Emotional Support Line (866-399-8938) assists callers needing emotional support or resource information as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emotional Support Line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals and others who have received training in crisis counseling.
Rev. Lindsay Geist, MDiv, MSW, LCSW
Church Transition & Clinical Resource Specialist
North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church
Copyright © 2021 The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, All rights reserved.

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