Clergy Faith & Wellness: Surviving -- one day at a time

Rev. Shelly Petz


The list of responsibilities these past few weeks has been ever-growing, ever-changing. It has opened up times to think about new opportunities. For me, I have also been overwhelmed. I have found myself in the midst of moments with renewed creativity and exploring uncharted waters. I have found myself in tears as I crumble to the floor exhausted. I have experienced, as maybe you have, the best and worst of humanity. There is deep faith. There is great fear. At the end of each day, I crawl into bed, giving thanks to God that I survived the day, and continuing my daily discipline of writing down my favorite moments of the day, and what helped me survive.

There is a series of books called the “I Survived” series written by Lauren Tarshis. Each book is a story from history from the standpoint of a child who lived through the event. I've been wondering what your “I Survived COVID-19” would look like, especially the chapter on “I Survived Holy Week during the COVID-19 pandemic.” What details would you include? What are the known facts? What are your feelings? What are the things that are terrifying? What new discoveries have you made? What are the things that have stressed or exhausted you? Where did you experience the presence of God?

I'm working on processing how I am surviving each day myself, as a way of caring for my mental health. At the same time, I am so aware of the many who have not survived and will not survive. There is so much going on right now and your mental health is a crucial part of your life and ministry for each day. Holy Week is a profound week in the life of the church. It also looks incredibly different right now from what we have known. I invite you to consider how it is you need to process this, now, or next week, or sometime ... to process your grief, thoughts, questions, and experiences. Many clergy struggle with mental health on a daily basis as you carry the weight of the congregations and ministry settings you serve. Add to this a global pandemic, and the stress on mental health right now is significant.

Please give yourself space and grace to process what it is you are experiencing. It may be through writing an “I Survived” story or calling a trusted friend. It may be reaching out to utilize the Employee Assistance Program of the conference (which offers counseling, financial, and legal services.) It may be intentionally focusing on physical or spiritual health. It may be exploring the list of resources on the Great Plains Conference website. It may be turning off all technology and tuning into the movement of the Holy Spirit in you.

Today I give thanks for a new day. There is so much that is difficult right now. There is so much for which to be thankful. I am grateful for companions like you who walk the road of compassion and proclaiming the good news that the worst thing is never the last thing.

During this Holy Week, I pray that I can be a part of joining with so many others to experience Christ's life, death, and resurrection in ways that transform forever.

Grace and peace,
Rev. Shelly Petz
Clergy Faith & Wellness