13 May 2021 | St Albans, UK [Paul Lockham]
From 10-12 May 2021 the staff of the Trans-European Division office were again joined by leaders and pastors from across Europe (and a few from even further afield) for the presentation of the latest series of Wellbeing Webinars.
Toxic Stress and Resilience – A Gospel Therapy
Mary Jo Vollmer-Sandholm, a Research Fellow, Lecturer and Specialist in Forensic Medicine and Prevention at Oslo University Hospital, Norway, started this month’s webinar series by describing her observation from early years working in the USA where there were a disproportionate number of patients from a religious background presenting with abuse injury. Later on, after witnessing abuse in her local church and the response of local leadership, she joined with others to introduce the ‘End it Now’* programme.
Giving examples of what constitutes “toxic stress”, Vollmer-Sandholm shared the findings of Dr Anda Fellitti regarding the lasting effects of Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) and how they can be “healed” by following the example of Jesus in addressing difficult themes without judgementalism by coming alongside the individuals. She spoke of the findings that the most important resilience factor to build is that of healthy relationships, making connections with people whom it is safe to talk to, whom you can open your heart to.
Closing with reference to Luke 4:17-21, Vollmer-Sandholm pointed out that Jesus came to meet us in our “toxic stress” and bring relief and joy and make that joy complete.
Unexpected Grace: An Unwanted Journey of Significant Loss
After sharing a favourite Bible reference found in Psalm 27:1, Andersson stated that between the two absolutes in life, birth and death, we will all experience a significant loss, that is something that cannot be retrieved. Those losses might be obvious or not so obvious, but each affects us and we all experience loss differently and react differently.
Sharing the details of the losses in her life, one of their family home by fire, and the second of her husband Lars as a result of a tragic accident, Andersson spoke of the challenge to address life based on her belief in a gracious God. Constantly the question “Why?” surfaces because nothing prepares you for significant loss, whether it is expected or unexpected. In dealing with her own “Why?” questions, she came to the place where “Why not?” was probably the question to ask.
Andersson shared nine lessons she has learned as a result of her significant losses. Pointing out that while we are sinners living in a sin-broken world, the losses have nothing to do with God and our relationship with Him. While those losses leave scars, some of them very deep, significant loss is the beginning of a journey, a journey of continual discovery that God never fails, God’s grace is sufficient to heal, His love continues on until we reach the land of “no more death, dying, suffering and pain.”
Lead(Serv)ing with a Limp
Marianne Dyrud, a pastor who is currently serving as the Executive Secretary of the Norwegian Union, introduced the presentation by recounting her family link of people with a limp. Her grandfather, her father, and herself.
Dyrud referred to that fact that we all have limps, though not all those limps are physical, some are spiritual, mental, or social. She also spoke of the fact that many people in the Bible also had limps.
Sharing some thoughts of Dan Allender, Teddy Roosevelt, J Robert Clinton, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Brene Brown, Dyrud built a picture of how God is able to use people to reveal Himself when they are willing to be “limpers”. People like the Woman at the Well, Paul, Jacob, and others.
Concluding with a quote from Allender “God choses…fools to live foolishly in order to reveal the economy of heaven, which reverses and inverts the wisdom of this world. He calls us to brokenness, not performance; to relationship, not commotion; to grace, not success.” Marianne challenges us all to “start walking and serving in who you have been created to be…”
* ‘End it Now’ is a joint initiative of the Children’s Ministries, Women’s Ministries, Family Ministries, Heath Ministries, Youth Ministries, Ministerial and Education departments of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The goal of this initiative is to help lower the incidence of domestic abuse in our families and churches.
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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