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Rest in the Wilderness


I read the headline, “So how do we, Olympians and non-Olympians, get stuck in that no-good mixed-up place?”  It struck me that we have lived in “no-good mixed up places” this past year and a half.1

The Olympics have been on the last few weeks, and we got a window into mental health from World-Class Olympian Simone Biles of the United States.  Going into the Olympic Games expectations were high as she was the face of the United States team if not for the face of the entire Olympic Games.  She acknowledged the stress she was under and stepped back for a time. 

Licensed Professional Counselor, Craig Lein from the Sinclair Health Clinic in Winchester, Virginia writes, “The world was stunned when Simone Biles withdrew from competition for mental health reasons to address what she called “the twisties.” Many rushed to say she cracked under pressure, she failed, she quit, on and on.” 

There are times in our lives that we feel as though the stress of life is going to pull us under.  On Sunday in our readings during worship, we heard about Elijah going to the wilderness after a very intense and stressful time in his life.  That stress was compounded because of being a prophet. Prophets lived dangerous lives, prophesying to powerful people who did not want to hear what he had to say.  Prophets lived a life where loss of reputation or even life itself was around every corner.  The stress of life was before Elijah, so he retreated to the wilderness.

Our lives are filled with stressors.  The intensity of some of them have increased.  We have spent the last year and a half trying to make decisions with unknown outcomes.  Decision after decision in our homes, our work, and our play.  Do we go outside? Do we go inside? 12ft, 6ft or 3ft distancing?  Will a cloth mask do or KN95?  Can I go on that trip I planned, or can I get a refund?  How do we plan out events when we don’t know if they will even be possible?  What about our kids?  And now a new COVID19 variant that is significantly more contagious.

COVID19, quarantine, social and political unrest, piled on top of the already existing family stress, work stress, interpersonal stress can feel as though we will be dragged under.  Stress in  our lives is at an all-time high.  Stress can have negative impacts on our health and well-being and our mental health is important.  Though not Olympians there are times we have “the twisties.”

Simone Biles showed the world that athletes are human and like us, face some of the same things.  We may not be trying to land on a vault, balance beam or uneven bars with the world watching… but our mental health matters, especially to those we love, our family, co-workers and friends. 

It was in that wilderness where Elijah found rest.  God provided for him.  He received rest and nourishment for his journey.  We too are on journeys and out of God’s abundant love for us, God meets us in the wilderness, on the road, or wherever we find ourselves.

Please take care of your mental help and seek help. You Matter!



Craig Lein’s Article -

Find a Psychologist -

WebMD “What is Stress” -

Posted by Jonathan Boynton

The Rev. Jonathan Boynton, M.Div. joined our staff during the summer of 2014. A 2012 graduate of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, ordained by the Virginia Synod, ELCA, in 2012, and served his first call as co-pastor at the North Mountain Lutheran Parish in Toms Brook and Strasburg, Virginia, with his wife, the Rev. Deanna Boynton. His undergraduate degree in Business Administration is from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, with a concentration in Marketing Management. While at NC State he served as a youth director at the church he attended, and was active in Lutheran Campus Ministry.  Pastor Boynton also serves on the Executive Committee and Synod Council for the Virginia Synod. 

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