This has NOT been the kind of week I had anticipated. Some of my clients are going through particularly challenging seasons. Though counselors are trained to not take other’s problems home with us, this week, it was not so easy. Then COVID decided to visit our home, again. We just had it in January. It came with my sister-in-law and niece from Colorado. It’s not their fault. It just happens. So far, I’m the only one in our household who hasn’t gotten sick. Their trip eastward to see more family was delayed and our planned trip to see my mother this weekend had to be postponed as well. I’ve been a bit bummed by the change in plans. Everyone is on the mend, which I’m very thankful for, but the stress of keeping a safe distance, washing my hands constantly, testing myself every morning, and not sleeping in my own bed has been wearing on me a bit. I recognize this is the stuff of life and others are dealing with far worse than I am. I’m a little embarrassed to sound like a complainer at this point.
Tuesday afternoon, I was preparing to lead our men’s recovery group. I texted the group to let them know I’d been exposed. Honestly, I somewhat hoped everyone would tell me to cancel group and stay home. Maybe I could catch the Mid-Summer Classic (that’s the MLB All-Star Game for you non-baseball fans) and treat myself to some comfort food. Maybe with some Buffalo Wild Wings—no such luck. Our men wanted to meet and needed to be there. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much I needed to be there.
In recovery circles, sharing the ups and downs or highs and lows of the week is common. For those who struggle with anxieties, mood disorders, addictions, or unwanted compulsive behaviors, it’s very important to have a place to simply talk about what’s been happening and what emotions we’ve experienced. To lack emotional awareness will often lead to a relapse into old sinful patterns. So we take time at every meeting for each man to identify and talk about his emotions. As you might imagine, we use a cheat sheet because we men often need a little help in this area. One of the resources we use lists over 175 emotions, and hungry and sleepy weren’t even included! Imagine that. In all seriousness, other than praying for one another, identifying and processing emotions may be the most important thing together.
At Tuesday’s recovery meeting, I took advantage of the opportunity to process some of my frustrations, disappointments, worries, and insecurities while the men listened without response or judgment. I felt better, and I remember saying something similar to, “I didn’t realize I was carrying so much. Thanks for listening. I needed that.” The process was therapeutic. It almost always is.
The value of sharing our burdens, confessing our sins, and praying with one another, cannot be overemphasized. To have people in your life with whom you can share honestly and know you will be accepted and loved is priceless. It’s what we do in Christ’s community, and it’s how the Spirit can move to lift one another up and give each other hope.
Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you will be healed.James 5:16
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 6:1-2