This week I’m highlighting the top viewed session from the 2021 Church Mental Health Summit and I’m so pumped that it’s with Kay Warren because her talk is just so amazing. Her session is titled Taking Care Of Your Soul.
Kay and her husband Rick founded Saddleback Church where they have recently retired after 42 years of service.
After the death of their son, Matthew, who lived with a serious mental illness, she founded Saddleback’s Hope for Mental Health Initiative to support individuals and family members of loved ones with mental illness and suicidal ideation.
These resources have equipped and inspired churches around the world to offer mental health ministries.
Kay and Rick Warren are known to be among the biggest champions of the church becoming safe places for those who struggle with mental health to find support and hope.
In her talk, Kay doesn’t come as a ministry leader who has successfully grown a large church, but as a mom. Someone who has personally touched my mental illness and who had to do a lot of work to be a caregiver of someone who struggled with serious mental illness.
She says that at one point in time where she questioned “How can I survive my child’s mental illness with my soul intact? “
I think this is such a brave question and I think it’s what many of us have thought it too but are too ashamed to say out loud.
For Kay, she was coming from the perspective of being a mom but, how many of us also feel that?
How can I survive ministry with my soul intact? How can I survive my own mental illness with my soul intact? How can I survive a career in counseling others with my soul intact?
It’s’ a brave question that Kay addresses and offers strategies and resources to thrive despite being surrounded by suffering.
This year in the Church Mental Health Summit we have over 50 speakers who offer sessions similar to Kay’s. Pastors, clinicians, organizational leaders, and those with lived experience all offer sessions with tools resources, and strategies to support mental health in your leaders, churches, and community.
if you want to learn more about the summit go to churchmentalhealthsummit.com and register free for this year’s free online event that goes live on October 10th
In 2019, Kay started a ministry called Breathe to support parents and children who deal with serious mental illnesses. She stated that mental illness is a long journey and parents/caregivers require support in this journey.
Kay believes this kind of support is similar to rest stops. She recalls going on road trips with her family and taking rest stops to grab what to eat and drink then continuing on the journey. This is what Kay believes caregivers/parents need, these rest stops as they journey on with supporting a loved one with a mental illness.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR SOUL
When being on a journey with a loved one with a mental illness it is important that you take care of your soul so the fire in it does not burn out.
The anxiety involved in caregiving for this role can be overwhelming and if one is not careful they can easily lose the fire in their soul navigating the role. This can have you walking around numb or oblivious of what is happening around you.
The Bible highlights how valuable it is to take care of your soul in 3rd John 2. It says, “ I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
John not only prays for us to have good health but prays that our souls are in the right state.
KAY’S JOURNEY SUPPORTING HER SON MATTHEW
While taking care of her son Matthew in the last few years as he was deteriorating before his life, Kay’s goal became one of survival.
She was concerned about how she would survive his illness with her soul staying intact. Kay did not know how to support him while not losing herself because she had no control over his illness and moods.
After a while, Kay understood that the only thing she had in control was her emotions and reactions so she started to cater to them
As a caregiver, if you do not look for intentional ways to care for your soul, you can become a bleeding heart and then have no ability to help your loved ones.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT STRENGTHENING YOUR SOUL
Jeremiah 17: 5-8 says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
This verse highlights three things about caring for your soul:
1. Stay deeply connected to God
Don’t let the hard circumstances in life make you bitter and lead you away from God.
Life’s circumstances can make you bitter towards God and have your heart wandering and pull further from God
2. Stay connected to other people
It is difficult to be connected with other people who share the same issue with you however it is worth anything money can buy. This can be through support groups around your community or online. When people with similar experiences gather, there is unbelievable strength and collectiveness amongst individuals working on the same road as you.
3. Stay connected to beauty
Beauty is the provision that God has made to fill our souls with life. We should busk in the beauty of God as a reminder of his love for us.
Practicing these three things will allow your soul to flourish and be like the tree in Jeremiah 17, bringing forth fruit in every season and being able to face whatever comes out way.
CONNECT WITH HOPE MADE STRONG
Join the Church Mental Health Facebook Group! In the Facebook group, we chat about how to care for others, what are your challenges as well as share tons of resources. This is a great community of pastors, clinicians, and those with lived experience and we want to get to know you.