Be Still and Know

by Charlotte Long, Youth Ministries

In any given month of the year, our teens find action and bustle and worry. We start them on that path at an early age, it seems. We talk sometimes about the Great Commandment - love the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind and all your soul. And the mind is included in that list! How can we get the great muscle of the brain to experience union with the Love Divine? How is our brain, which is always making lists, always prepping for tests, always checking what is right and wrong... how is our brain a part of Love?

Scientifically, we know that emotions like (lowercase) love are absolutely a part of the brain's function. And that is the start of knowing God as Love. For Lent, the teens, teachers and I have been focusing on finding our still, True Self: that part that understands our connection to everything and our Union with God. This True Self is the part that doesn't have to try or do or pretend or make up or stress. It just gives in, gives up and understands that Union isn't made - it already exists. We have been exploring that idea through several mediums; through Richard Rohr's deconstruction of the Enneagram, the world's oldest personality test; through contemplative prayer; through meditation; and through silence. The "giving up" aspect of Lent has always felt too limiting for me. I have always felt that it can be giving up or adding on anything and everything that gets you towards that True Self, the self that knows and talks to God. It can be a stripping away of extra gunk or an adding on of Light.

In this line of thought, stress and anxiety are a huge part of what separates us from God. Teens start experiencing this early on. The pressures of homework, friend groups, developing emotions, family dynamics, and college preparation all can weigh heavily on a body that is still developing and learning to regulate those important functions. And yet we ask so much of them during this time of their lives! One of my goals this year is to give our group Godly tools to assist in that worldly strain. Taking it all on by ourselves can feel impossible. But with God, nothing is impossible. Working with God, there is Peace and Stillness.

With this in mind, we decided to ask Dr. Melissa Perrin to join us for our SECOND LECTURE this year in our 2014 - 2015 three lectures series for teens. The first lecture and discussion was led by Rev. Chris Hardman and discussed the relationship between Science and God, to great success. This second one will discuss Stress and Anxiety and will strive to create discussion about how a relationship with God can give a teenager a way to handle pressures of school, stress and feelings of self-worth.

Dr. Perrin has been working in the field of psychology for over 25 years. Locations of study and work include Lutheran General Hospital on the adult and adolescent units; clinics in Englewood, Evergreen Park and on Division Street in Chicago working with gangs and an HIV testing clinic and responding to clients who received a positive test result; a crisis intervention initiatives for children and teens for the City of Chicago; and the Community Mental Health Center in the child and adolescent program doing individual therapy, family therapy, couples therapy, student supervision and crisis intervention. In 2001 she opened her private practice and now works with children, adolescents, families and adults of all ages. Many of her clients work 12 Step programs, Life Transitions, and existential thoughts and concerns. As a result, her work concerning God, and spiritual matters is often at the core. She believes it is almost impossible to work with Life Transitions and Addiction and Recovery issues without addressing existential needs, longings and struggles.

Peace! Charlotte