Throughout the course of my life, I’ve followed a pretty predictable pattern when it came to dealing with particularly stressful periods. I would hunker down, make it through the stressful event, and THEN get sick. It was as if my body willed itself to make it through the event before giving itself permission to collapse in emotional and physical exhaustion.
This year my body did something different. Roughly two weeks before Christmas – and four days before a memorial service – I got sick.
Getting sick BEFORE major events had never happened to me before. “Why now?!” I asked myself.
Then I thought back about the events I had lived through since returning from my sabbatical. I have gone through two moves; two deaths in the community; three memorials; numerous illnesses and hospitalizations of congregants; a wedding; and the resignation of 2 of our 4 core church staff members. All of these things have been in addition to the regular demands of daily life.
As I thought about these events – particularly the turnover of 2 staff positions in the past 3 weeks – I’ve realized that it often felt as if those around me expected to live through the events as if nothing had happened. That is ridiculous: especially given the fact that one of these positions was our Office Assistant.
During this time, I made a HUGE mistake. Instead of reminding folks that we are in a period of transition and need to be especially gentle and grace-filled with each other, I tried to summon all of my strength and act as if nothing happened. It’s no wonder I got sick!!
All of this got me to thinking about the many times in our lives when we go through major stressors and we try to act as if nothing has happened. Perhaps we lose a loved one. Or we go through a major transition at work or a retirement. Or maybe we experience a health crisis.
It’s so easy to downplay the event and push on as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
Is that the best way to handle the transitions? Or might a healthier way of dealing with the stress be to openly acknowledge the transition and adjust our expectations accordingly?
See you next time …