Temperatures are in the single digits. The wind cuts to the bone and never stops blowing. It’s dark when we go to work, and it’s dark when we get off work. That’s if we can go to work at all; many of us are out of jobs for the season because the ground is frozen or the temperatures are unsafe. We’re dealing with lay-offs and Santa lists and debts that keep adding up, along with all the expectations for us to keep providing. We’re dealing with pipes freezing and power going out and vehicles breaking down and car accidents on slippery streets. We’re dealing with sore joints, sick kids, our parents’ failing health, finals week at South Dakota State University, and one thing after another. For some of us, it seems like every time we see a light at the end of the tunnel, it's just another hit coming.
Did I mention it’s cold? And dark? When you’re experiencing struggles with mental health, it’s already hard enough to get out of bed in the morning and cope with the things that need to be done. Add in the cold, dark deadlock of December in South Dakota, and even folks who don’t normally deal with depression are talking about feeling down and discouraged.
This month, my church is highlighting Brookings Empowerment Project as our Community Partner focus for December. We planned this on purpose, back in the early spring, knowing it would be right on time by the time we got here. Partnering with local organizations to support awareness is one way our church is working to share grace in our community. And this month’s Community Partner focus is especially relevant for a season of life that’s hard to talk about, when it becomes more than just the cold and the dark getting to us this time of year.
You can listen to Pastor Ben’s heart on this topic right before the 21-minute mark of our video from yesterday’s service. I really can't put it any better than he did.
If you live in Brookings, and you care about mental health awareness here at home, take a few minutes to visit empowerbrookings.org to learn about some of the encouraging developments taking place in our community over the past few years. The folks at BEP were kind enough to invite me to share a guest post last month, and you can read a bit about our church’s mental health ministry on their site.
While you’re there, check out this update about the City/County Mental Health Task Force, a group that’s been working tirelessly to complete a needs assessment in order to propose improvements to current services available in our community. We’ve got a long way to go, but when I see how far we’ve come, it makes my heart sing.
Or you can be the one to buy some copies of Christians Get Depressed, Too to hand out to anyone you know who might be interested in beginning a dialogue about mental health and faith. The book’s available for a discounted price at the moment, and I’ve already ordered a whole bunch more for next Sunday. It doesn’t have all the answers. It's just a starting point. My hope is it gets you asking new questions and seeing people around you with fresh eyes.
And hey, if you want to connect about your story and how God can use what you've been through to bring hope to other people, hit that "Share & Connect" tab up above, and let's talk. I'm inviting guest bloggers for the New Year, and I'd love to hear from you. Please send me a note if that's a way you feel led to "Join the Conversation" about mental health heading into 2019.
Meanwhile, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)