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  |  For the one who doesn’t know yet 
Just Checking In  | Coping with the unpredictable 
Dear Lindsay  |  Social media boundaries, Part Two
What We’re Talking About  |  Languishing or flourishing
Conference Resources  |  Review of previously released resources

Meaningful Moment

"For the one who doesn't know yet," by Emily P. Freeman.
View the entire prayer at this link.

Just Checking In

We like when life is predictable. It helps us know what choices to make. We feel safe when we know what to expect. And this predictability helps us best regulate our emotions and our reactions to others. We build habits and routines to maintain this predictability.

Predictability is really a privilege when you think about it. There are lots of people whose lives have been totally upended at some point. Maybe you’re one of them. And we can easily forget that feeling safe and knowing how to regulate our emotions is really a privilege that not everyone has experienced. Not everyone has a community in place to offer support. 

Many of us have had pretty predictable lives (minus that whole call to ministry thing turning our lives on their heads). And the fairly expectant trajectory has made us feel safe and secure to know what’s coming next. 

But then what happens when life doesn’t go as expected? 

That’s what has happened so much for both us AND the church this past year. The bottom fell out and life was no longer predictable. We didn’t know what was going to happen next. Life didn’t follow a linear timeline. But do you know what else was no longer predictable? How we coped with things. 

We all have coping skills (healthy or unhealthy) that help us navigate and manage the world around us. They are our go-to ways that we take care of ourselves when things go awry. There are healthier coping skills like meeting up with friends, going to Orange Theory, early bedtimes, and seeing a therapist. And there are unhealthier coping skills such as consuming more alcohol than usual, staying in a relationship to feel needed, and self-isolating to avoid pain. Both healthy and unhealthy coping skills are our attempts at taking care of ourselves. And regardless of whether they were good for us, they probably gave us a predictable outcome.

So then what happens when these coping skills no longer help you? Or as Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry ask in their new book (What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing): “What no longer serves me?” 

I think the same can be asked of our churches as we look ahead to returning to “old ways.” What programs, relationships, and systems no longer serve us? We have this beautiful liminal moment where we could embrace the in-between. We can choose not to bring old programs back. We can try new outreach activities or worship elements. We can change some of our toxic interactions and communicate differently. 

We have the choice to let go of what no longer serves us. 

This is also true in our personal lives. We experienced a year that contained moments of rest (yes, I know everyone worked harder at moments… but we also hopefully got breaks from our previous lives of non-stop busyness). Maybe being busy without boundaries no longer serves us and we need to put more guardrails in place for our personal lives. Maybe meetings that could have been emails really taught us that we don’t need those particular meetings anymore. Perhaps our priorities have shifted and elevating the celebration of average worship attendance no longer carries as much meaning as personal engagement with congregants via Zoom or phone calls. 

We have the opportunity to make changes right now. To ask the challenging question, “What no longer serves us/me?” And LET IT GO. Sure, people will be upset. No one likes change, and predictability (even if the coping skills are unhealthy) feels safe. It’s going to be a challenge to leave our comfort zones. But when we are comfortable and safe, we have the most creativity and curiosity. Let’s take advantage of our safe cocoons and learn how to explore and change again. 

I can’t wait to see what the future holds in this beautiful moment of reflection and empowerment as we let things go that no longer serve us and our congregations. 

Grateful for you,

PS. As a reminder, May is Mental Health Month. I hope that the question, “What no longer serves me?” is one that you can explore to best care for your own mental health. And, as always, check out the NGUMC Wellbeing website for resources, statistics, and steps to find a therapist. This month the new resource is a list of websites specifically related to BIPOC mental health

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


Note: This is a part 2 answer to the question from last month. This month specifically is addressing racist comments and not just rude and mean comments that we see on social media. 

Dear Exhausted by Social Media Chaos,

    It can be really painful (and angering) to see people we know in our social circles and communities make racist comments on social media. And so often, our gut reaction is to either immediately unfriend the person or to react out of anger. I’m right there with you. But neither of these options address the deeper issue.

    My first recommendation – if you don’t know the individual, just keep scrolling your social media feed. There are very few benefits in getting in a back-and-forth with someone that you don’t have the foundation of a relationship to build upon while you navigate a challenging topic. Yes, I know this feels wild and maybe even avoidant. But we have learned over the years that minds are most often changed when you’re first in relationship with someone, not just the stranger on the street. Because with a stranger, that person has nothing to lose if you two don’t agree. If you are in relationship with someone, there is already some level of trust. 

    My next recommendation – I was talking with a friend of mine recently who seems to be a pro at handling these types of situations. And my friend said that when they see a racist post on social media from someone they know, they usually post the response: “Wow. I’m surprised you posted that. I expected something different from you.” That’s it. Not accusatory. Not inflammatory. Just a statement hoping to invoke an invitation to conversation. And usually, the original poster responds with something along the lines of, “What do you mean?” Now here’s the crucial part: you must effectively communicate how the post is racist. You can’t just throw around accusations of racism without being able to articulate specifically how it’s racist. Evidence is critical here instead of simply pointing fingers. It’s a teaching moment instead of a blaming moment. 

    I hope that we seek to both teach others about covert (and overt!) racism. But I hope we are also open to learn ourselves when we, too, might say something that is racist. It’s not enough to be non-racist; we have to be open to growing and stretching so that we can be anti-racist. None of us are perfect and a lot of us have areas to grow. May we do this with kindness and grace as we help each other identify and name racism in our midst… and then provide and receive education to grow. 

    Grateful for you,


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

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

The Pandemic and Our Current Functioning Abilities:

Assessment Tools:

Wespath Resources for Mental Health Month

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.

BIPOC Mental Health Resources

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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