Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3 - 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.

The last couple of days have been interesting for me in a way that I didn’t expect, and I share my experience in the hope that it may help others express how they are feeling. On the whole, I am a person that copes well under difficult circumstances. In a sense that’s part of my vocation, not just to be present for people in the happier moments of their life, but to also be present in the moments of anxiety and struggle, those moments when life is hard.

 

So during the current situation we are all living in I felt I was doing OK, I wasn’t feeling anxious, I was able to talk to people about how they were doing and walk with them as they expressed how I was feeling. I was doing OK. I recognised I was lucky to have much around me to keep me occupied, I was surrounded by family, I was still able to work… all in all I counted by blessing and didn’t feel much disquiet in my soul or life, except for the obvious restrictions we are all experiencing.

Then, on Tuesday morning that changed. I woke up on Monday not feeling very well, a bit run down, earache etc. I suspect, this in part, contributed to what happened when I woke up on Tuesday morning in a state of melancholy and not really feeling happy or inclined to engage with the day at all. I was still not feeling great physically, but my emotional state was additional to this. It was as if I were an elastic band that had been stretched until it snapped. Now before I go on any further I must say I am feeling much better today than I was at on Tuesday, but Tuesday and Wednesday were quite tough days for me… and what surprised me more was that it was harder for me to admit than I thought.

To express how I felt seemed like an admission that I had failed somehow, that I wasn’t strong enough to cope with what was going on… I asked myself ‘how was I to support other people if I can’t manage how I feel’. And as I sought God in the midst of my ‘funk’ he reminded me of some words by an American Professor called Jon Kabat-Zinn who works in the field of stress management, what he said was ‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf’… and as these words came to me God asked me what it means for me to ‘learn to surf’.

And then the words from 2 Corinthians 1:3 came to mind, with their focus where to find comfort in the midst of trouble. And I was reminded that I was a person, God’s child, before I am anything else. And whilst my ‘cope in an emergency’ streak is useful – especially in an emergency, it becomes very damaging when that’s what becomes my core. I think I forgot to breathe over the last 6 weeks, always moving from one issue to the next, one question to the next, one email, one phone call, one decision to the next… and in doing so I forgot to ask the question ‘how am I?’ And on Tuesday, the answer came back… ‘not so good today’.

SurfSo how am I ‘learning to surf’?…. By remembering these are difficult times. that it means I, we, are all feeling stress in ways we didn’t expect to have to cope with not so long ago, that recognising missing people is hard, recognising that I need space I can no longer access in the same way. And because of all these things and more, I need to be kinder to myself than I have been. But most of all I need to come honestly to God with how I am feeling, not just how I wish I could feel.

So if, and when, we feel down, as I’m sure we will from time to time lets be honest with each other, let’s ask each other how we are and seek a truthful response, but always seek God as our comforter in times of trouble.