Silence That Speaks

By July 28, 2015 Blog

How do you ‘do’ pastoral care?  Is it something that requires training? A hospital placement? A degree in theology? A specific calling? These things can be helpful.  But I reckon much of it comes down to two things: curiosity – and compassion. 1. Curiosity: being interested in the person you’re with. Simple, eh? But not easy. At least, not for me.. Often, instead of listening,  I’ll be talking to someone and thinking about myself.  Waiting for the opportunity to wedge in …Read More

Don’t Drown Together

By November 3, 2014 Blog

What do you do if someone you love is caught up in an addiction? They want help – but the help they want is not the kind they need. They want to be rescued, or just left alone – but you can’t do either. They’re trapped and unable to get out – but every day they make decisions which mire them deeper in the mess. So. You can be hard.  I can’t help you.  I won’t.  Sort yourself out and come back …Read More

Stronger than Sympathy

By October 13, 2014 Blog

What does it mean to help someone who’s depressed or in distress? Do we join them? Or keep our distance? One approach is illustrated in the cartoon pictured. Helping here means making a nest for the hurting person, withdrawing with them and keeping them company in the dark. It breaks down the wall between “sufferer” and “carer” – and that’s a good thing. It’s also a lovely picture of empathy and understanding. But is it enough? Joining the depressed person in their pit pictures part of Christ’s love – …Read More

Making Church ‘Safe’

By September 30, 2014 Blog

Following on from yesterday’s post, some thoughts on making church less scary:  Expect that folks in your pews will struggle.  Model weakness and beware of a leadership model that says that ‘proper’ Christians have to be strong and together.  Talk about mental health issues – even in sermons: and not as something ‘unusual’ or ‘weak’. Avoid using loaded words e.g. ‘mad’, ‘crazy’ – especially from the pulpit. Invite speakers in to talk about specific issues, including testimonies from …Read More

Bible for the Bruised

By September 22, 2014 Blog

I have an enduring love for Gideon bibles.   Especially the section at the start, where they list verses according to topics. When I first became a Christian, that wee red book was like a road map: What to do when you’re: depressed/lonely/doubting/angry. How to find help when looking for a job/tempted to despair. Where to turn when people slander you or mock you for your faith. It’s not the best way to read the Bible, but God used these headings to bring me comfort. (‘Longing for …Read More

Fixer Versus Friend

By September 8, 2014 Blog

When it comes to friendship, I have one rule for others and another for me. It seems to me that the way I give myself to others, is by holding myself back. Providing solutions instead of silence, keeping it together and most of all, Not Being A Burden. What blesses people is not Messy Emma (in all her brokenness). It’s Shiny Emma: the Helper with her box of solutions. If I lean on others, I’m not being a friend. They want answers: not mess …Read More

Experience, but not answers.

By July 20, 2014 Blog

This afternoon I’m hoping to chat with a girl who’s in the midst of anorexia and is being treated at an in-patient unit.  Her family got in touch and suggested we talk, but she’s not too sure – and whilst I can understand her family’s concerns, I can understand hers too. It’s a bit like when you’re younger and you’re paired off with someone who’s the same age – everyone expects you will be friends.  Or at church sometimes, when we …Read More

Supporting Survivors of Sex Abuse

By July 14, 2014 Blog

First, be aware of the facts: Sexual abuse takes different forms and does not necessarily involve penetration or physical harm. 30 to 40 percent of victims are abused by family members 50 percent have been abused by someone outside the family whom they know and trust. over 30 percent of survivors never disclose the abuse to anyone. Of those who do tell someone, approximately 75 percent do so accidentally. Almost 80 percent initially deny it and don’t want to share. More …Read More

When It’s Right To Say ‘No’

By June 18, 2014 Blog

When it comes to personal boundaries, most of us lean in one of two directions.  The first is this: we wall ourselves in and keep others at arm’s length, (maybe using sarcasm or busyness or  deflecting questions back). Or we have no boundaries at all.  We say ‘yes’ to everything, we’re terrified of causing offense and we’re over-committed and exhausted. Tea rota? Check.  Baby-sitting? Check. 24/7 Emergency helpline for friends and family? Check. Neither of these are good options but …Read More

The Church Blanket

By May 29, 2014 Blog

Sometimes it feels like nothing we do or say can make a difference.  Turn on the TV and it’s a wave of suffering. Open the newspaper and sadness spills from every page.  In our relationships and in our lives: we see people hurting and we want to help, but don’t know how. We’re scared of reaching out in case we make things worse. This is one reason why church matters.  Individually, we’re weak, isolated and afraid.  But together we’re strong. …Read More