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He’s Calling Your Name

Coming to you today from an article I wrote for The Glorious Table.

You know what I love about children’s Bibles? They get right to the point. They kick out the Bible’s greatest hits one after another, just leaving out some of the details. But, as someone who is in the middle of a chronological read-through, I appreciate the opportunity to skip over the who-begat-whos every once in a while. Sometimes, it’s nice just to get a lesson out of a quick read.

This “quick lesson” is exactly the sort of thing that happened to me the other night. I was reading a children’s Bible to my daughter, and we happened upon the story of Samuel and Eli. We learned that Samuel had become Eli’s apprentice after being given into the Lord’s service by his mother Hannah (1 Sam. 1). And then, one night, Samuel had a strange experience:

“Then the Lord called Samel. And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me. Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'”

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Sam. 3, excerpts).

He's Calling Your Name

I love this story. I’ve read it before. Truth be told, as a parent of young children who come to see me sometimes in the night, I usually find this story amusing. But this time, it struck me differently. I knew God was saying something to me. Actually, I think he was saying something to a lot of us. Here it is:

  1. It’s okay if he has to call you more than once
  2. If he wants you to hear him, he will keep calling.

To read the full post follow the link here.

I’m On Vacation

You know, sometimes people teach on something because they are good at it. Others do because they have to work so hard at it. I am often the latter.

I have eagerly and happily written every week since the fall of 2018. Many times I am encouraging you to take time, pursue self-care and be present. And so, this week I am going to practice what I preach. I am going to be present with these beautiful souls in this beautiful place.

I have thought of you often during this time. Back at it next week. Anne’s on vacation 🥰

New Website & a Lesson on Overcoming Obstacles

Dum, dum, da-dum! It’s finally here! You know, when you launch into something completely new, it takes a while for things to “meld” as my Mother would say. I have known for quite a while that the original website design worked for the time being, but it didn’t feel totally authentic. So, after almost two years of working around raising kids, writing, COVID and you know, life ⁠— the website redesign finally got to the top of the list.

Thank you for the aethetics consultation from my friend Nicole Elliott, new headshots from motivator extraordinaire Charity Trotter, and all things SEO/marketing/web design from my mentor Beth Walker. You girls are a gift and a shove forward and I am grateful. Now, for some preview pictures and today’s teaching below.

Anne Rulo New Website & a Lesson on Overcoming Obstacles

Anne Rulo New Website & a Lesson on Overcoming Obstacles

You guys, doing whatever God has called/designed us to do with our lives can get really hard. Even when it comes to “little” steps like redoing a website. Time and ego are vicious menaces. And, we need to be able to identify their tactics so we can combat them. Living in the middle of what God designed for us is too much of a sweet adventure to miss because of a few obstacles. So, let’s look at a few that all-too-often try to get in our way.

Common Obstacles to Progress & Growth

Comparison: Everyone does this. Either we compare ourselves to others or to our ideal self. Either way, comparison is really just judgment dressed up in fancy clothes. If we are going to get anywhere, we have to stop judging where we are from where we want to be. Just do the work. God will get you there. He knows the best path and, more importantly, He knows the best time. You cannot compare your journey to anyone else’s. Yours is yours. Stay present. Keep working. Stay faithful to the work.

Time “Management”: Some people slack off. In fact, many of the entrepreneurial/coaching messages suggest that any delay in the success we desire is because we aren’t working hard enough or in the “right” way. Yes, I suppose, at times that is true. However, I have found that achieving success in God’s design means working hard within all the gifts/responsibilities He has given me. The greatest satisfaction I have found is a week where I worked some, played with my kids some, dated my husband some and cared for this temple well. You are not going to hear that from some motivational speakers but you’re going to hear it from me, the therapist. And the incredible Aundi Kolber. Trying softer is okay. Remember to live fully. You’ll still get there.

Dealing with Regret: Regret, shame and an unhealthy relationship with failure are dead weight when we step into things God asks us to do. We are not going to be the best when we start out. And, for the recovering perfectionists in the room, that can stop you before you ever get started or when you think you didn’t do something exactly “right”. I’ve bombed talks, written things that I’ve later read and shook my head and (I know it sounds silly) stared at this website each week often frustrated because I wanted to change it. We cannot do everything exactly as we want every time. Our fastest route to growth and progress is recognizing that we are human, learning, and getting better every time. Your practice is your product. We cannot just hide until everything is “perfect”.

Serving Ourselves: Okay, this is the last one I’ll hit you with today, but it’s an important one. The greatest emotional hangup, physical slowing, or psychological disfaction I have found in trying to do what God has asked me to do is when I worry about how it will make me look. When we shift our eyes off of the people we are serving and the God who equips us to do so, we will start drowning in our own self-sufficiency and worship. Remember, we do it for Him and do it for them, whoever they are. I’m always amazed at how much better I am when I remember who I am serving, and that it’s not my own self-interest or promotion. No human is worthy of worship, ourselves included.

Alright, lovely humans. Thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your encouragement and messages as you graciously watch me practice right in front of your eyes. On my good days I remember this is all for you, and for Him. And when I forget, He graciously reminds me and brings me back to center. Enjoy the new website and take a roam around. I hope the words, resources and peace intended are a blessing to you.

Link to the new website: www.annerulo.com

Update: I’ve Been on a Couple Podcasts!

Anne Rulo - I've Been on a Couple Podcasts

Dear readers, just a quick update here. You now can become listeners! With COVID shutting down almost all in-person speaking opportunities, I have had the sincere privilege of being on two podcasts recently! Both of these are a combination of auto-biography, freedom speaking over mental health and grief, and a heaping helping of me with my therapist hat on. Reach them via the links below or wherever you get your podcasts. Enjoy!

The Death of My Father on “The Death of My _______.” Spotify Apple Podcasts
The Church & Mental Health on “Have Hope; Will Travel” Spotify Apple Podcasts

Multitasking is Making Mama Tired

I conducted an impromptu experiment this week. It wasn’t very scientific but it was eye-opening. I tallied the number of times my children said “Mom” in an hour. Y’all. It was A LOT.

Now, of course, I am going to start out with the obligatory (and accurate) statement that taking care of our children and attending to their needs is a privilege. I know my kids are a gift. But, I also noticed that each call of “Mom” seemed to be echoing around in an emptier than usual barrel of energy. I was finding myself bristling internally each time they said my name even though I love them dearly. It was obvious that I needed to take some time to consider what was influencing this. And here’s where that reflection landed.

Like many parents, the impact of the coronavirus means many of us have now been “on” more consistently than at any other point in their childhood (other than maybe infancy). I am not lamenting it. I have truly enjoyed our time together. But, the times when I used to be away from them ended earlier (school closing) ended altogether (grandparents who are appropriately keeping their distance) are suspended for a season (usual summer activities) or may go away again the future (unknown impacts of the virus moving forward). Many of us have now been taking care of a home, working, and managing the mental “what ifs” of our current/future circumstances all while also being with our kids more. In short, we have been hyper-multitasking for longer than ever in a smaller physical and mental space than ever — and, it’s slowly but surely taking a toll.

Anne Rulo Multitasking is Making Mama Tired

The concept of multitasking has more than a few debates around it. Some suggest the brain cannot multitask at all, while others offer evidence that the brain can “split” it’s attention if the competing tasks are simple enough. Regardless, there is a consensus that anytime we attend to more than one thing at a time there is a mental, emotional, and efficiency cost that comes with that load. We simply cannot function as well with multiple competing demands as we can when we focus on one thing at a time.

Translation: the kind of corona-level parenting/working/living many of us have been doing and may continue doing is, in many ways, harder than what we were doing before.

That’s what I want you to hear. What we are doing now is categorically different than what we were doing before because we are managing more things simultaneously than we were before. And, if we keep trying to function like we were before, we can be at risk for burnout. We have to make adjustments.

To that end, here are some suggestions for managing this strange, high-task/high-needs time in a more self-compassionate, brain-designed way.

  • Decrease the multitasking we have control over. I know limiting our tasks is not always possible but, when you can just laundry, just fold laundry. When cooking, just cook. Just be on the phone. We so often try to combine our tasks to get them all done but the research suggests that we will ultimately feel better and feel more productive if we do one thing at a time. We have control over how many things we choose to do at once. Then, if we choose one and our kid asks us to open a cheese stick we are only taking a break from a single thing rather than several.
  • Set boundaries around our best focus times. Our brains need stretches of uninterrupted thought/work. For many of us, there is a space in the day when we focus best. I love Havilah Cunnington’s teaching on “tiger hours”. If we make sure to use these hours well, we are less likely to feel as drained by the caretaking the rest of the day. A stretch of non-multitasking time helps give us the energy we need to help manage high-needs during other points in the day.
  • Accept that things, not necessarily you, are different. Many of us are trying to hold pre-corona standards for productivity, creativity, accomplishment, etc. We simply cannot do all that we used to do when many of us have more things simultaneously on our plates. If you are criticizing yourself for not being able to get it all done in the way you did before you are not holding yourself to a fair standard. Give credit where credit is due.
  • Go with the resistance. This is our life now. I think part of my recent feelings of burnout is because I am finally realizing life could this way for longer than I ever imagined. We have to ask ourselves how we can lean into the demands that are non-negotiable rather than resent them. And, use this same mindset to identify what is negotiable and let those things go. We’ll get them back someday.
  • Ask for help. Maybe this is your partner. Maybe this is a friend. Maybe this is your kids. Yes, it’s okay to ask your kids to help you have a stretch of time where you get to do only one thing at a time. And maybe this is God. “God, you know how many times my kids will say ‘Mom’ today. You know how many times I will need to multi-task. Give me the strength and energy I need for each one.” Remember, there’s no trophy coming someday for doing it all on your own.

In the end, I just know that I want to receive as many calls for “Mom” in my life with gratitude, rather than resentment. And, when I start to feel the frustration of “Mom” rather than the gift in “Mom” it is clear that my heart and my mind are trying to tell me something. Slow down today. Lean in and listen to what may be causing that for you and make the changes needed. You, and your precious kiddos, are so very worth it.

Image by Chuck Underwood from Pixabay

 

Embracing the Value in Waiting

I have two children. At eight and five, they are often “selective-listeners” who don’t wait well. Pretty typical kid stuff, but their responses are interesting to watch play out.

“Hey guys, we are going on a trip today. I need you to grab a couple toys and your water bottles. Mom and Dad are both coming and we’ll be back before dinner.”

Usually, each of them only hears, “Hey guys, we are going on a trip today” before they move into well-established coping strategies. One kid worries. “Where are we going? What are we doing? Is Dad coming? What about the pizza we planned for dinner?!” The other just makes up her own solutions, packs a suitcase full of lovies, sticker books, one dress and a pair of pants and figures she’s set.

Sheesh, tiny humans. Would you please just wait to hear the whole plan before you start panicking or coming up with your own solutions?!

(God’s voice) Uh, Anne? Would you please wait to hear My whole plan before you start panicking or coming up with your own solutions?

Oh. Right.

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A lesson that’s been pressing on me lately is that sometimes we are also “selective-listeners” who don’t wait well. Because we live in a hurry-up culture with access to instant information, many of us really struggle with the ability to sit still long enough to hear from God or wait for Him to develop a situation. And then, in the discomfort of waiting, we either panic about everything that could go wrong or press ahead with our own solutions.

The thing about these seemingly different coping strategies is that they actually serve the same purpose. Control. If I choose to worry, then maybe I will be able to anticipate and manage disasters that might come my way. Or, if I go ahead and patchwork together a solution on my own, at least I can tell myself I am being “proactive” and “responsible”.

So, what are we supposed to do? It is extremely counter-cultural to “sit about” waiting on God to develop a situation or give further instruction. It can make us feel lazy, or cowardly, or vulnerable to simply, wait. And yet…

As always, the best example we have for living out our faith is Jesus — and He was a great listener and NOT in a hurry. He said things like, “it’s not time yet” “don’t tell anyone yet” and even gave it 48 hours when he knew Lazarus was sick. He was confident in His waiting and he wasn’t afraid to set that boundary with others. He believed things would come about in their time. He knew that panicking about what was coming wouldn’t help Him and that preemptive solutions would never be as good as what God had planned. He didn’t give in to the pressure to hustle or make a decision too quickly. Jesus saw value, rather than frustration, in waiting and listening for God’s best. And, if we can do the same, maybe we’ll be able to say…

I’m not sure yet, and that’s okay.
It’s not time yet, there is benefit in waiting to see how this develops.
I’m still listening.
I’m waiting to see what God does here.

And it’s with these phrases added to our lives that we offer this prayer today…

“Lord, help us to know when You are saying ‘go’ and when You are saying ‘slow’. We are so much more likely to be able to discern this difference if we truly understand the value of waiting — the way Your Son understood it. We no longer want to listen or be impatient like children. Help us to be good watchers. Help us to be good waiters. Only then will we be able to fully listen to what You say.”

Photo by Eutah Mizushima on Unsplash

When It’s Hard to Learn

Ugh, fractions. Fractions were the very first time I remember struggling so much with a concept that it made me cry. My poor Mom spent so much time, trying every which way she could think of to help me make sense of it. At times, it would seem to click. But then, I would move onto another problem and it would escape me again. I remember being so frustrated. I had to work so hard until it finally, finally made sense.

A few of the experiences we are having in 2020 remind me a bit of that process with fractions — like, times infinity. Between the coronavirus, discussions about racial equality and the media, my mind sometimes feels like one of those old cartoons where things start to overheat, springs start popping off here and there, and the whole unit collapses from exhaustion. (You’re welcome for the visual.)

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I think one of the most challenging parts of trying to understand things these days is that the world is just so darn NOISY. There is endless information available and, it is getting harder and harder to vet the accuracy of the sources. Facts and opinions are difficult to discern from one another. And yet, when it comes to critical issues such as our health or human injustice, we simply cannot afford to tune it out or give up just because it’s hard and complicated.

I’ve spoken with several people recently who said something along these lines, “I don’t understand but I want to understand” or “I’m not sure what to do”. I have said this too, both in reference to the developing/changing information about the coronavirus and as we lean in and listen better to the lived experience of BIPOC voices. I do not understand but I want to understand so that I can do what is right, healthy, and just. More importantly, we need to understand as best we can so we can be part of the solution rather than perpetuating problems.

So, where does this leave us? What are we to do when information is conflicting, confusing, or difficult to understand? What do we do when we can’t seem to discern who or what is right?

We ask God. And, we ask Him first.

Let me say this clearly. I do not offer this as a pat answer. On the contrary. I think we sometimes forget that God’s Word is not only a guide, it is also chock-full of promises. And, as it happens there are more than a few promises related to wisdom, understanding, and learning. Here are just a couple:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5, NIV

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8, NIV

“Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2:10-11, NIV

Dear readers, this is where we have to start. When I plow ahead trying to understand things without God’s guidance, I tend to get overwhelmed and frustrated. But, when I take Him along, even if I don’t understand right away, at least I have His peace and promises to rest in. Here are some examples of what that looks like:

“Lord, I’m about to go read about the rising COVID cases in parts of the US. Be generous with me Lord. Give me the wisdom to know what decisions we should make for our family.”

“Father, there is so much I don’t know. Lead me to accurate sources that honor Your perspective. Thank You for Your promise to teach me lovingly. Help me to be patient.”

“Sweet Jesus, I don’t understand but I want to. As I listen more and more to the lived experiences of people of color, help me to understand what is right, just, and fair. Grant me wisdom, discernment, and knowledge Lord, so I can love Your people well.”

You guys, we can’t do this alone. The wisdom and discernment we need right now are too important and too complicated to figure out on our own. And, the resources He’s offering us are too powerful to leave behind. We must bring Him along.

The fractions aren’t making sense again Lord. Make it plain, and make it plain again. We can not do this without You.

Image by Lynn Greyling from Pixabay

 

Facing Our Biases

For several years, I taught the very first graduate school course a student would take to become a counselor. I loved this class. We spent each semester talking through why they wanted to be a therapist, basic principles of providing mental health care, and examining the myths and truths of counseling.

One of the lessons I valued most each semester was the night we spent considering our biases. One of the primary goals of counseling is for the therapist to be aware of and avoid imposing their own beliefs and values upon the client. As you might imagine, this requires the therapist to have done the hard internal work of examining themselves — a process many of these students had never done intentionally, publicly, or with the permission to be honest.

The exercise was always the same. I would ask the students to consider groups of people and observe their “gut” reactions. The goal was to consider who they may have trouble working with based on their personal values. Then we would share.

Anne Rulo Facing Our Biases

There were always a few who initially believed they didn’t have any biases. They “valued all people equally”, “didn’t see color”, and “had friends of all backgrounds” as evidence. There were also a couple who would offer “safe” answers like, “I don’t like criminals” to avoid giving a potentially offensive answer. But then there was one, always one, who would risk something like this, “I sometimes feel scared of Black people when I don’t know them.” And you could feel the shame, and the permission, begin to grow in the room.

“I think poor people are lazy.”
“I am turned off by outspoken women.”
“I don’t want to work with teenagers, they are too self-centered.”
“I hate liberals.”
“Republicans are racist.”
“Religious people make me uncomfortable.”
“I think being in a sorority is stupid.”
“I would cross the street if I saw you coming.”

I know these statements may be shocking to read, but in the room, they were not said with confidence. Instead, they were almost whispered, heavy with the awareness that they didn’t want to feel this way or think this way but they did — and so do we.

There is simply no way for us to exist in a country so historically threaded with systemic racism, gender inequality, and political dichotomy and not be affected — often without realizing it. While we are not born with bias, even in our earliest days we are influenced by powerful media, our own culture, and the immediate impact of family and friends. And while certainly some of this influence will be positive, no one grows up in a utopia. Messages about power, privilege, and inequality are unavoidable and we must be willing to consider which ones we may have consciously, or unconsciously, absorbed.

This process of identifying and challenging our biases is hard. It means we have to get really honest with ourselves. It means having to recognize that there are ways we sometimes think about others that aren’t fair or right, even if we don’t act on them. It means facing the hard truth that some of the things we learned from the people we love, or in the country we love, need to change. Remember, just because we’ve been influenced toward bias in certain ways doesn’t mean we have to stay there.

One final thought. While this call to look into our biases is not entirely about race, the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd (and many others before them) have shaken many of us. As a middle-class white woman in a small, mostly white midwestern town, I have the option to ignore this.  Where I live and who I am means I have the choice to stay comfortable or not. But, if I choose to stay comfortable, any biases I may hold will likely remain uncovered, and tragically, unchanged. I say I am an ally. And if I’m really going to be, I regularly need to be doing the hard work of looking within myself to make sure that’s true. It will not “just happen”.

As the world continues to wake up, I think back to those years of teaching. I watched with awe as student after student bravely began to acknowledge the ways they had been influenced, the biases they held as a result, and the freedom that came from knowing they could now challenge the thoughts they no longer wanted to carry. We can only do better when we know better. And we only know better when we lean in, listen, and grow. Let’s be brave folks. Maybe, if enough of us do the hard work of changing inside, the outside world will finally change too.

Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash

 

COVIDevotional: Looking for God on the Bumpy Road

This experience with the coronavirus has been a deep dive into facing unknowns and what-ifs. The sheer volume and discrepancy of information makes it challenging to know the best way forward. And, in a place as big as the United States, there are so many variables at play that it can’t be uniform, won’t be pretty, and is probably going to feel really uncomfortable sometimes.

But, here’s our truth for today: Just because a journey is difficult doesn’t mean God isn’t in it — or maybe even directing it.

Anne Rulo COVIDevotional: Looking for God on the Bumpy Road

I spent a little time recently thinking about two of the more famous journeys God’s people have ever been on. The first is the Israelites getting out of Egypt. Those poor people. They knew freedom was coming, but they spent months wondering when it was going to happen and what it was going to look like. And then, once it happened, they were critical of how it was happening, worried they would run out of food and complained about their circumstances. Any of this sounding familiar?

Fast-forward about thirteen centuries and we get to witness another journey that was more than a little inconvenient and uncomfortable. Mary, heavily pregnant with Jesus, has to leave her home and journey to Bethlehem for a census. Governmental decisions affected her plans, her housing, and her medical care. Yes, I feel like I’ve seen this somewhere lately too.

Here’s the deal. I know this process is hard. However, if we are continually finding ourselves critical and irritated at every frustration and confusion we may have bought into a modern lie of convenience — and forgotten the truth that sometimes God gets us to freedom and safety via bumpy roads.

Remember, just because something looks messy to us doesn’t mean it looks messy to God. It is essential that we leave room in our spirit for the uncomfortable, inconvenient or confusing so that we may inquire of God in it. If, in His infinite wisdom, He hauled thousands of Hebrews out of Egypt in the middle of the night or asked a pregnant lady to ride a donkey to a barn to give birth, I think we can count on the idea that at least some of the challenging things we experience during COVID-19 may have His fingerprints on it.

Just as we can look back on these two incredible stories and see how God was at work, a time will come when we will be able see how He is at work now. Remember, God is present when the road is smooth, but He is also present when it’s not. Leave room in your faith to keep looking for Him, remembering that sometimes, it is the bumpy roads that lead to the most incredible ends.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

 

COVID-19 Series: Suicide Prevention

It is important for everyone to learn a little bit about suicide prevention. Yes, I really mean everyone. The reason is that people who are considering suicide are more likely to reach out to a trusted friend or family member than go to an emergency room or mental health professional. Add to that the isolation and intense medical environment created by COVID-19 and this may be even more likely. Remember, you don’t have to be an expert to be helpful. You just have to know enough to feel equipped and empowered.

The broad impact of this virus is placing some people at added risk for a suicidal crisis. There are so many things to consider, but, for our purposes today I just want to provide you with three of the most important concepts I’ve learned in my training as a therapist. It is my hope that even knowing these few things will help you feel better equipped to recognize and help someone in distress.

Anne Rulo COVID-19 Series: Suicide Prevention

Many people who are suicidal don’t want to die, they just don’t want to live. I know that sounds like semantics but it is not. I have sat with a number of people over the years who said, “I do not want to die, but I can’t live like this.” Our bodies are deeply ingrained with a bunch of mental, emotional, and physical survival mechanisms that are designed to prevent our death. The level of psychological distress someone has to be in to overcome these stop guards is immense. Focusing in on their mental and emotional pain rather than our fear in hearing it moves us in the right direction. Simply listening and being present in their pain is “doing” something. Unless they are at immediate risk to harm themselves it’s okay to breathe, listen, and then find a way to get them professional help through a therapist or medical center.*

The other two concepts I want to share are language cues. They are things to listen for that may help alert you to the possibility that someone is experiencing a suicidal crisis.

Listen for hopelessness. When suicide feels like a logical solution, it is as though the distressed person has put on horse blinders. Psychologically, they can only see the problem in front of them and any belief that there is another path, solution, or option is lost. They have, quite literally, no hope for a change in their circumstances.

With the transition between the end of the school year and summer, I have heard from several people this week who are experiencing sadness as they consider how COVID-19 may affect us into the summer and fall. While it is very common for us to feel somewhat overwhelmed at how long things could be affected, most of us have hope that somehow/someday/someway we will figure it out. For someone considering suicide, this is not the narrative. You may hear things like, “I don’t think I’ll be able to do this for much longer” or “If we are isolated again, I won’t be able to make it”. Listen for phrases that indicate they do not think they will be able to adjust, cope, or that life will not be sustainable in future conditions. It is our hope to get them to pause their plan long enough to gain a new perspective through appropriate care.

Listen for “perceived burdensomeness”. This type of language is a tell-tale sign of someone in crisis. Perceived burdensomeness is when someone has convinced themselves that the world, their loved ones, their business, their spouse, or children will be “better off without me”. As the term suggests, they perceive themselves to be a burden. It is an insidious lie that tricks their mind into believing that they are truly helping people by not living any longer. And it’s dangerous because it allows the distressed person to have a “good” reason to take their lives.

With the loss of a job, income, identity in wealth, career, or ambition, it is easy to see how the extended effects of COVID-19 could create an opportunity for someone to think that they aren’t as valuable as they once were. If they can’t do as they did before or pursue the goals they had it can be challenging to rework a new sense of purpose. These distressed individuals can believe that having one less person to care for, the assistance of their life insurance money, or the freedom from “dealing” with their despair is a gift.

(Stop. Breathe.)

Okay, I know this is heavy stuff. I am a licensed mental health professional and my heart almost always does a quick flutter when I encounter a suicidal crisis. But, we must remember that with the right resources, suicide is one of the most preventable forms of death. It is very, very possible for people to recover from feeling this way. And to that end, the very best thing you can do if you find yourself in this scary, sacred, precarious place is…

Ask the question. I know it’s hard. But, there is zero evidence that asking someone about suicide makes them suicidal. Does it make you uncomfortable? Sure. Does it create an awkward moment? Possibly. Does it give the person the message that you care, find them valuable, and want to help? Absolutely.

Asking the question is the caring thing to do. But more importantly, it may just give that precious soul the window they need to see that someone cares, and the freedom or opportunity to say “yes, I need help”.

Be present folks. If this hideous virus has taught us nothing else, we have become beautifully aware of how slowing down, listening, and paying attention can benefit us. May we be able to do the same for those around us. It just may save a few lives.

*If you or someone in your life is experiencing suicidal thoughts, here are some resources to find the help you need:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Question, Persuade, Refer
Mayo Clinic – How to Help Someone
How to Support Someone Who Feels Suicidal

Photo by taylor hernandez on Unsplash