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Last summer, Summit Church launched their first ever Sixty Minute Seminars. The concept, carefully planned by the reGROUP team, was described as a way to start dialogue and bring insight into topics that many people deal with in our church, community, and nation but are minimally addressed within a church setting. Normally, the idea that Summit was willing to take such risks would’ve piqued my interest alone, but it was the list of topics on the black and yellow handout that sealed the deal. At age 26, I have encountered family members and friends who are or have battled depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and addiction of varying kinds—all topics that boldly jumped from that flyer. That’s why I made the decision to attend. About half-way through the opening session I realized that not only would these seminars help me navigate conversations and offer genuine encouragement to the people in my life, but it would also grow and stretch me emotionally and spiritually. I was hungry to gain a deeper understanding of the psychological aspects of these topics and to learn about my role in it all. Week after week, I attended the one-hour sessions and walked away with much more than I came in with. As I expected, only a few topics and discussions truly resonated with my personal experiences, but I benefited deeply from all of them by gaining a new perspective on topics I knew little about (despite what I previously thought).

I’ll confess to you that I have said my share of insensitive and hurtful comments to those battling anxiety, sex addiction, substance abuse, codependency, etc. In hindsight, I was bringing very little value to those I loved and was unfairly judging others who I hadn’t even met. These unproductive comments, such as telling a friend battling depression to “just cheer up” or “snap out of it” were never intended to be harmful, but showed my naiveté. I realized that if cheering up and snapping out of it were really an option, then people would have been using that tactic for years.

Even if we don’t struggle with judgment and a desire for quick fixes or if we haven’t had a run in with a single topic being covered in these seminars, I’m confident that we eventually will. Because Satan exists, hurts are deep, pain is real, wounds are often left unhealed, and people can be cruel and reckless with their words and actions. If attending Sixty Minute Seminars does nothing but increase knowledge, decrease stigma attached to these topics, and offer a next step for care, then I think we’re walking one step closer to love and freedom.

As Sixty Minute Seminars rolled around again this year, I was quick to encourage others to go but I also found myself thinking that I’d already attended and learned all that I could. I begrudgingly attended the opening session, entitled “The Core Problem” and was quickly reminded that just as these topics are ongoing struggles, our knowledge should be too. Sin is ever present and I still struggle with casting unfair judgments and blurting out the occasional insensitive comment. I need to show up each summer. I need to be willing to continually learn more and I sincerely encourage you to do the same. Do it for yourself–to begin healing your own wounds. Do it for those you know–to learn more about what they are experiencing in order to help walk better along side them. And do it for those you don’t yet know–to breakdown judgments and welcome them into a safe place of empathy and understanding when the moment arises.

Sixty Minute Seminars  engages in topics that matter deeply, such as depression, addiction, anxiety, and body image. Even if you’re not wrestling with one of these topics yourself, someone you know and love might be. Click here to view a schedule of topics and speakers.

Guest blogger, Kara Mosley, works in digital marketing for a creative agency called Laughing Samurai and also helps manage Twelve21 Gallery. She has attended Summit since 2012 and volunteers with Base Camp.