On 21–22 September 2021, staff from the Trans-European Division (TED) and leaders from across Europe enjoyed the latest edition of the TED Wellbeing Webinars. The initiative started in January this year to help people maintain mental wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Today, there are over 20 webinars available for free on the TED website, covering a variety of wellbeing topics, including “Toxic Stress and Resilience”, “Healing Generational Trauma”, and “The Journey of Joy”. This week’s installment included two presentations: “Relational Crisis: what to do when wellbeing is challenged” by Augustus Lawrence; and “How to Deal with Disappointment” by Daniel Duda.
Relational Crisis: what to do when wellbeing is challenged
The first webinar was presented by Augustus Lawrence, who is the Family Ministries director at the South England Conference.
Lawrence used Hagar’s story, her distress at the sight of her dying son, Ishmael, to illustrate the nature of a relational crisis. He emphasized the importance of having people who are “there for us” to help us cope—people who are accessible, responsive, and engaged. Lawrence then showed how God Himself intervened in the story of Hagar, becoming accessible, responsive, and engaged. By stepping in the emotional landscape of Hagar and Ishmael, God was saying, “Look, I am not absent; I am not distant from you; I am with you.” Lawrence believes this “is the challenge we have as a church, walking alongside people—not doing the work for them, but holding their hands… walking with them in their pain.”
Lawrence closed his presentation by offering two simple tips on what not to do when someone is going through a relational crisis: 1) You don’t have to answer the “why” questions, and 2) Now is not the time for a theological debate.
It is the ability not to shy away from the pain and suffering of others that truly has the power to heal relationships, Lawrence concluded.
How to Deal with Disappointment
The second webinar this week was presented by Daniel Duda, who is a field \Secretary for the division and is also responsible for the Education Department and Adventist Mission.
Duda started his presentation by stating that living in a broken world means dealing with disappointment. He further explained that “as Christians, the temptation is to use religion to avoid disappointment.” However, having a slot-machine view of religion will cause Christians to be disappointed, not only in the unfairness of life but also in the God who allows it. Duda offered five healthy ways to deal with disappointment:
- Do not take things personally: Don’t be too quick to blame yourself; there may be more things outside your control than you realize now. Accept that life involves some degree of randomness.
- Talk it over with someone close to you: Don’t deny your feelings or push them away. Instead, find a good friend and learn to lament.
- Adjust your expectations: Disillusionment is not a bad thing; it is the loss of an illusion. While it is painful, disillusionment can set us free from wrong ideas about God, ourselves, and others. In fact, disappointment can draw us closer into the mystery of God.
- Refocus on what you still have in your life: Don’t let the one thing you do not have prevent you from seeing all you do have. Open your eyes and find grace in unexpected places.
- Disappointment will happen if you go out of your comfort zone: Being disappointed may be a sign of growth—a sign that you are willing to be emotionally and intellectually honest.
Duda concluded his presentation by affirming that “God is never disappointed in you.” He believes God is gently pushing people out of their comfort zones because He is “more interested in your growth than in your comfort.”