Everything I learned from non-musicians about being a better musician

After trying very hard to focus on the positives of getting through week 3 of Fresh Meat on Tuesday, I had a bit of a rough time at band on Wednesday. I’ve moved from playing the second part to sitting on the front desk, just for the next concert, and I’m finding playing solos stressful since I’m out of practice at playing on my own. We also had a guest conductor, who was excellent, but that’s always a little nerve-wracking. I started hyperventilating during a solo line in West Side Story which took me way out of tune and made me think about all the different kinds of things that go together to make it possible to stick at playing when you’re a slow-learner and an amateur.

It’s tempting to think it just comes together by accident, but I found myself remembering all of the supportive people I’ve learned from over the years., I realised that non-musicians may have taught me more about playing well than I realised. It’s not all about lessons, practice, and rehearsals.

1. Mistakes are not the end of the world

This one is obvious, right? I’ve made at least one mistake every time I’ve picked up my instrument, but I am almost always freaked out by them – especially when anyone else can hear, and even more if they comment.

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Shiny trophy: Area Table Topics Contest, 2014

When I started public speaking with Aylesbury Speakers (part of Toastmasters International), I was worried about evaluation. Every speaker is evaluated and given feedback based on specific targets for the role or project and suggestions for improvement.

Hearing feedback from both established and new speakers has undoubtedly improved my presence, posture, and presentation when I speak in meetings, at church, and at work. It’s given me confidence that I can be in front of a room without freaking out, and more than anything it’s taught me that everyone has room for improvement and if I am not the most naturally gifted in the room I can still learn and work and get better. Listening to the feedback from others even won me an award, once.

2. Your true limits are way beyond where you think they are

When I was 11 I had an excellent PE teacher. Mrs. Jarrett was a big believer in knowing your body and its capabilities. I have always suffered from crippling period pain, but there was no pain she couldn’t teach me to stretch our or run off, and to this day I know that if I can bear it, 2 naproxen and an aerobic warmup will do more good than any amount of chocolate when Aunt Flo has her cramping face on. (She also gave me my one and only D on a report card, for dance, but it came with a 1 for effort, so that’s nice!)

Since Mrs. Jarrett’s dance lessons I’ve not been afraid to tell people I have period pain or anxiety and can’t do my best work. I’ve learned to take recovery breaks if I need them, and perhaps most importantly I’ve learned that the limit is always a bit further away than you think it is. When I think my facial muscles are done, and I’m too tired to try again, there’s always a bit more to give.

3. Your strengths matter more than your weaknesses

I used to think that you couldn’t be thought of as good at something unless you were an all-rounder, and that unless you found each skill equally easy you may as well not bother. It was my maths teacher that taught me otherwise. At school level, I generally did pretty well, but I found maths deeply frustrating. Sometimes I mastered a concept instantly (this seemed particularly true with more abstract maths) and sometimes I could practice endlessly but would never be able to memorise or reproduce the mechanic without the text book in front of me.

I was trying to explain this to my teacher one day, when she said, “You’ve got a flair for mathematics, but it would be easier if you didn’t need to be perfect”. After all, you can get an A in an exam without answering every question correctly.

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I am better at rhythm than technique. I take notes well, and remember them, but can’t always apply them without significant personal practice. I’ll never be a virtuoso, but I can always work on improving tone and technique if I at least know I’m in the right place at the right time!

4. It’s not all about you

I am not my whole section, I am not the whole band. In a largeish section like the flute section of a concert band, you can afford to share the load out without feeling like you’re rubbish or lazy.

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Cinderella (Feb 2007)

When I was 20, I wrote and produced pantomime (a queer version of Cinderella) which was an exercise in pressure and absurdity with a mix of complete and utter amateurs from the LGBT Society (including me), and some tremendous amateurs from the Drama Society and Stage Crew. Cinderella was my baby, I put my degree  and several friendships at risk to get it done, and worked on every detail I could manage. It was the get-in at the Bloomsbury Theatre before my friend Jen kindly-but-firmly took me aside and suggested that, just maybe, focusing the lamps was not my job right now and if I didn’t want each and every member of Stage Crew to tear me limb from limb I might like to stay out of the way until the technical rehearsal.

Point taken. I can only work to my own skills. Between us, as a section, we can decide to put some parts down to one player only, or dovetail long runs, and stagger breaths on long notes. There is nothing to be gained by wearing myself out trying to play for everyone and making it sound lousy in the process. (Incidentally, letting people get on with their own jobs is a lifesaving skill in ministry, too!)

5. More than anything else, it’s about banishing The Fear.

This was Wednesday’s insight. The idea that exercise

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I do not believe in The Wall

requires mind-over-matter  is not new to me(especially in my case, getting out for a run at all is the last thing I usually want to do). I learned early on when I was training for the Royal Parks Half Marathon that walking in a long run was my worst enemy, not because of the effect on my body (which could be restorative), but because getting back up to a run was hard to do without feeling the need to drop down again every time it got hard.

When I started going for runs for fun, Emily bought a ‘Blerch’ t-shirt from The Oatmeal that says, “I do not believe in The Wall, I believe in The Blerch” (full comic). I wear the t-shirt and matching socks when I’m especially unkeen to go out or take on something new.

The new insight for me, when I was trying to convince myself to get through the solo line in One Hand, One Heart, was that I found myself thinking, “I got back on skates, I can do anything.” From there, it’s only a short leap to remembering the mantra that Derby is as much about mental toughness as physical fitness, and then it all clicked. If I can’t skate when my emotions are out of whack, why do I keep trying to play when I feel lousy without taking the time I need to calm down? After all, depression and anxiety take a huge physical toll.

So, next week when we get to the concert and I’m feeling anxious, I’m going to try and remember that my mistakes are unimportant, I can push on past my limits, I have strengths as well as weaknesses, it’s not about me, and I can do it if I can just keep calm and carry on.

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Fresh Meat

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Week 2 – intentional knee fall

So I’ve finally bitten the bullet and taken a tentative step towards learning to play Roller Derby. I went to a taster day at Oxford Wheels of Gory a couple of months back, and have just got home from Week 3 of an 8-week ‘Fresh Meat’ course. There is no doubt I look less like Bambi today than I did back in September, but I’ve already had a good taste of the difference between a Good Week and a Bad Week.

This week was a Bad Week, because last week I fell about 10 mins before the end of the session (not unusual) but for the first time ever I fell backwards. I hit my head pretty hard, and because the symptoms of concussion and of insomnia are pretty similar (and I’ve had insomnia since May) I did have to get checked out at Minor Injuries and took a day off work.

When I got home tonight, I wrote this on Facebook,

Training made me all philosophical today. I didn’t plan on being scared of hitting my head again but kept coming up against The Fear.
The thing is, though, that I have an anxiety disorder so I get The Fear when someone rings the doorbell, or I forget to answer an email, or for no bloody reason at all! I was scared of riding without stabilisers until I was 8, I was scared of rounders balls until I finally hit one when I was 10, I was scared of walking in Himalaya and I’m still scared of making mistakes, and of falling.
But if I’d never fallen and broken my leg I might not have met Emily. If I hadn’t ever risked rejection I’d never have worked, studied at UCL or Oxford, or been part of the early years of LGSW. I’d have a totally different group of friends, or hardly any at all.
I think I can do this. And you can do that thing you’re worried about. And if I can’t? I think I’d make a perfectly respectable NSO*, after all.

Next Tuesday is a whole other opportunity to learn new things, and this week was definitely not a total washout (I have finally managed to stand still on skates, without even trying!). I hope I still feel this positive next week but the lovely, lovely thing about Derby in general, and OWG in particular, is that everyone is determined to be kind and positive and let everyone take their own journey at their own pace. That culture is exactly what I was drawn to and it’s been lovely to realise that it’s not just a front(!)

*Non-Skating Official – scorers, penalty officials, etc.

On Fawkes & Forgiveness

First published on the blog of Northern Lights Metropolitan Community Church.

Remember, remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason, and plot!
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

On this day in 1605, a young Catholic man who felt persecuted under the successive Protestant governments of Elizabeth I and James VI/I entered a chamber under the House of Lords where earlier a group of his co-conspirators had hidden barrels of gunpowder. His intention was to blow up the Palaces of Westminster whilst King James was in the House of Lords opening Parliament. He was tortured and executed for treason, and in his name we still burn ‘Guys’ on bonfires along with the ironic fireworks to celebrate an explosion that never happened.

This conspiracy had far-reaching consequences. After eighty years of religious turmoil, the Catholic conspiracy added fuel to sectarian rhetoric and fear of Catholics amongst English and Scottish Protestants. When James’ father (Charles I) took the throne and married a French, Catholic princess, it would be one of the major factors that caused the Civil War that was to follow, and the rise of the radical Protestant (or ‘Puritan’), Oliver Cromwell.

We see the echoes of religious persecution and the Gunpowder Plot resonate through the history of the British Isles. Lack of forgiveness fosters resentment that creates conflicts such as that in N. Ireland. Why do we still respond so unforgivingly to threats that appear to come from other cultures and religions?

We have not learned that persecution leads to threat in a vicious cycle, so we see regular articles that accuse young children fleeing Syria of being grown men seeking to infiltrate our country for Daesh. We have not understood that our actions have consequences, so men still shout at women wearing headscarves and veils in the street, and are then shocked when their sons and daughters are able to be coerced into believing that they would be safer in the war zones of Syria, or Iraq.

We have withstood hate crime and persecution in the LGBT+ communities for centuries. (Indeed, one reason James VI/I was so unpopular was his reported bisexuality.) We see our friends forced to return to nations where they are at great risk, and we must be a part of the solution. God will forgive those who persecute us. So must we – seventy times seven times.

Justice & Sacrifice

First published on the blog of Northern Lights Metropolitan Community Church.

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On the 21st October, 1854, a young woman named Florence Nightingale left England for Crimea, where a war was raging that was claiming lives on both sides in astonishing numbers and where the care for wounded and dying was almost non-existent. Her cohort of nurses included fifteen nuns, and a number of other women from different classes and backgrounds who shared Nightingale’s conviction that nursing was call from God on their lives. Her contemporaries included the extraordinary Mary Seacole, who set up a recuperation post behind the lines in Crimea, because she was refused the right to travel to a British field hospital because of her Jamaican heritage.

Women behind the lines found themselves working in desperately under-resources field hospitals offering what help they could to the men who were injured. Over 4,000 still died in the first winter they were posted, but Florence Nightingale’s position of some influence (as the daughter of a prominent and wealthy family) allowed her to make recommendations and resource training on her return to England that has gone on to save countless hundreds of thousands of lives since.

Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole stand as part of those in the course of human history who have heeded God’s call to care for humanity above and beyond their own needs. We could name the martyred British nurse Edith Cavell (who was shot for saving the lives of soldiers without reference to nationality or uniform), or Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. We could think of families like the ten Boom family who found themselves in concentration camps for hiding Jewish people. We could think of David Kato, who died speaking out for LGBT rights in Uganda.

In their tradition and honour, MCC set up the Global Justice Institute, which has been working for human rights around the world for ten years. They have small budget, and a big heart. They can be found around the world fighting in some of the most dangerous places for LGBT+ people and our allies. Their goal is not to impose their structures and ideas on local people, but to empower them to work for themselves. Please join us in prayer for them, and give what you can in this week’s offering. If you would like to give online, or set up a regular offering to the GJI, you can do so here.

God is a God of forgiveness, who pardons our injustices to one another. Let us be a part of bringing God’s new realm of justice and peace by seeking to correct what injustices we can see.

Privilege and Safe Space

First published on the blog of Northern Lights Metropolitan Community Church.

I had the lovely, but slightly strange, experience of running into an old friend last week. When I was 14 and took on a volunteering role, she was the manager of the charity shop I worked in. We then worked together for 2 years in that shop, and another two that she started up for a local hospice. In that time, I went through my GCSEs, AS Levels, A Levels, several friendships, and eventually moving away from home to start a life at university in London. I’ve never had any doubt that working with Pauline gave me a confidence that I never had around people my own age, and that in many ways learning to work in a shop that brought in people from all walks of life with a whole range of needs and intentions was an early step towards understanding what ministry meant.

I clearly remember one day two young men, about my own age, 17-18, came in and asked for some dresses to try. You very quickly learn when you work in a second-hand shop that your stock is a major source of outfits for local themed club nights, fancy dress parties, and dares. (I once managed to construct a rather good Peter Pan costume from just one day’s donations, but that’s another story.) I jumped to the conclusion that these two were looking for outfits for some kind of drag night, helped them to find their size, and left them to it. It was only later, when the assistant manager cracked a joke about the colour, “bringing out your eyes” to one of the young men that I realised he was the only one trying on clothes, and that he and his mate weren’t laughing.

I think that was the first time I stopped to think about safe space, anonymity, and the projections we cast onto other people. I have always had a more-than-average levels of privilege, being cisgender, white, able to learn in the specific ways our education system demands, etc., but I don’t think I’d really taken it until then. I had never thought of my position as being one that could be used to hurt other people.

I often wonder now if that moment changed anything substantial, or how often I still allow the preconceptions I was brought up with to penetrate my everyday thinking unchallenged, and how that in turn affects my behaviour. I was reminded of the words of the traditional confession, which acknowledges that we sin, “through negligence, through weakness, through [our] own deliberate fault”. This means that when we contribute to behaviours and structures that harm others, that is as much as sin as deliberate harm. And what we do to one another, we do to God.

What a joy, then, to be in a community of believers who commit to forgiveness! When you are next invited to share absolution with one another, and to accept your own forgiveness, remember that Christ forgives all of us, even when, “they know not what they do”. Remember also that we are called to accept that forgiveness and seek to turn it into strength to make ourselves anew in the mould of Christ, who resisted taking on any power that suppresses the weak, instead fighting in word and deed for those who are oppressed.

Choose your words carefully #PrayforOrlando

It’s Monday morning in the UK. Less than 24 hours ago, we began to hear that a man with a gun had entered Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Since then, the news media and social media alike have been struggling to process what has happened. We live in a world of 24 hour news, where reactions are instant, and emotional.

There has been a major problem with most of the coverage I have seen and heard, though; it has felt seriously straight/cis/white-washed. Let me be clear: this violence was perpetuated against gay, bi, trans, and queer people because they are gay, bi, trans, and queer.  It’s not an attack on “American values” or “the freedom of all people to try and enjoy themselves“, it was an attack on queer people in their own space. Perhaps, he chose a Latin night specifically, perhaps that was a coincidence, we will probably never know, but we do know that the victims we know about so far are almost exclusively Latin@.

Our responses to this tragedy matter. Who we give voice to matters. I have not yet heard the voices of queer people of colour in the British media. I have barely heard any LGBTQ+ voices at all. Owen Jones has been widely criticised for walking off a Sky News newspaper review, when his emotional request that this terrorist attack be claimed as a specific hate crime was cut off repeatedly by both the host and his fellow guest. Furthermore, the Today Programme on Radio 4 this morning included a segment in which “Christian Concern” were allowed to claim that gender neutral school uniforms are damaging to children, in which John Humphries asserted that the existence of only two genders is, “just a fact”.

On top of all this is the narrative that claims that because this terrorist was of Afghan descent, there is a need to deal with “Muslim” violence. This is despite the fact that the man arrested on the way to L.A. Pride with a cache of weapons was white (and has hardly been reported). Islam is not the problem. Hate is the problem. Every politician or commentator who challenges our right to marry, or to use a public toilet, or to do our jobs – whatever their faith or political affiliation – is the problem. Every “I’m not homophobic, but…”, every “love the sinner, but hate the sin”, every “there are only two genders” is another step on the road to the attack at Pulse.

One last thing – the language of “madness” and “lunatics” will get you nowhere.  As a narrative, it’s designed to challenge the idea that Islam is violent, and I support that aim, but let’s just say, “Islam is not a violent religion,” and not start to throw mud at vulnerable people with poor mental health just to make that point.

So, let’s choose our words carefully. Let’s choose whose voices we are putting out there. Give LGBTQ+ people a platform, give a platform to queer and allied faith leaders, and tell the stories of the victims. We are scared, we are vulnerable, and we might not say what you think you want to hear, but please – let us speak.

Perfectly Imperfect, and Precisely Imprecise

There is a Persian proverb, “A Persian Rug is Perfectly Imperfect, and Precisely Imprecise”.  It’s said that weavers of Persian rugs create ‘mistakes’ or deliberate imperfections in their work, in recognition that the only source of perfect creation is God, the one perfect Creator.

You could read this as a naïve arrogance, I suppose, and find an underlying assumption that this human creation would be perfect if only there were not this single disruption to the fabric, but I experience it slightly differently. As someone who enjoys the creative process for its own sake and is also cursed with a perfectionism thatcan be cruelly pedantic, I find the idea that errors are necessary in any human endeavour to be a liberating one. After all, we create so much more than carpets.

In all of our work, we make mistakes. We make typos and calculation errors, we mis-step in our relationships and interactions, and we do it often. These are the mistakes woven through the fabric of our lives, and on the lives of others. What is created by us, and those around us, must fall short of the glory of God. We were created perfect, but cannot sustain the perfection of the Creator.

What is in our control is what we do with our mistakes. Do we try to rip back our lives to fix them so that we are never able to live what we were created to live, or do we look in faith to the forgiveness of others and the grace that is available in God, and take on our precise imperfections as markers of all we have been forgiven for? If we are to live life in its fullness, we must trust God and our community to love us regardless, our perfectly imperfect selves.

Be kind and compassionate to one another,forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

Knit one, Pray one

The story of a knit object doesn’t begin with the first stitch cast on. It’s hard to know where it does begin, in truth. With the idea of this project, or with the first stitch this knitter created? Or earlier, in the Middle East, when the first true knitted fabrics were created? What is the heritage of this glove, or that shawl?

In a sense, a knitter’s own history and all knitting heritage is contained in any object. Under the literal woven yarn of the garment, toy, or blanket is the figurative thread that ties together the stories of creator and recipient. When I was an archaeology student, that peculiar sense of holding global and individual history in a created object never ceased to be compelling.

I’m very aware of that as a knitter, too, and it is one of the reasons I find great joy in creating gifts for other people. The crafty Pay-It-Forward that does the rounds on Facebook every year (in which folk commit to make presents for the first five people who comment on the post) is so much of a feature of my calendar that my wife has been known to try and forbid it in an attempt to fend off the inevitable moments towards the end of the year when I’m freaking out about the hat for someone I’ve not seen for five years being too big / too small / too green. I know it will happen, but I’m drawn to the challenge of creating just the right gift for someone who is important to me but a bit distant. In the time you spend creating for someone, they’re not distant at all.

Sometimes I see a pattern I want to make and instantly know who would love it (my Ravelry faves are full of these), but many of those never come to fruition. I’m much more likely to follow through on the projects where I start with the idea that Lovely Person would like a scarf, and it should probably be made from a cabled fabric. That is followed by hours of total immersion in Ravelry seeking yarn and patterns and pestering the long-suffering Mrs. H. to help me make every decision along the way. I might sometimes consult with the prospective recipient, but I’m v fond of giving Surprise Knitted Objects, so I’ll often take a risk rather than give the game away.

Assuming I’m not paralysed with indecision, and I can find a yarn and pattern that are both perfect, then I can finally cast on, and get to one of my favourite things: watching a 3d object emerge from sticks and string.

The best thing about all of this for me is how calming the process can be. I find it pretty easy to be in the moment with my yarncraft, especially a more complex pattern, and I have this amazing time to rest with my prayers and cares for the recipient, and work them into the fabric. It’s also one of the few times I really find it easy to sit with God. I’m often on the bus (in fact, I’m writing this seven hours into an eight-hour coach journey with two works-in-progress in my bag), so it turns my dependence on public transport into a blessing in my day.

Every year, I resolve to make more things for myself. I even broke my ‘yarn fast’ to spend my birthday money on some amazing wool to make myself a skirt this year, but since then I have cast on two gifts that were not in the Plan because when it really comes to it, making gifts makes me happy, and keeps me grounded.

If you’re a yarncrafter and you’ve never taken a risk on making a surprise present for a friend you miss, or that person you don’t know well who seems to be having a really pants time right now, take a risk. Search a pattern and cast on a Surprise Knitted Object for them, and just enjoy spending time with them; I hope it will be a blessing.

Many of my favourite ever projects have been gifts, here’s a few I had amazing fun with (in no special order):

More Tea, Vicar? (This  is the original, but I have made several for clergy friends.)

Cthulhu cozy (This was a request – so much fun to work out how to do it.)

Professor Steg (Every baby needs a dinosaur.)

Fab & Beautiful hat (Inspired by a church logo, my first charted-from-scratch colourwork.)

Boob hat (Of course! Inspired by an image that went viral after a series of women being asked to cover up whilst feeding.)

Piano scarf (The genius of this pattern! So boring to make, but so worth it.)

Piano gloves (These were hard to give away, love them so much.)

I’m v excited about my works in progress, and my project queue, but you’ll have to wait and see those. Watch this space.

Church leaders: we need to talk #SHAD2016

If self-harm is part of your story, and reading about it is a trigger, please take care before reading the following. Take care of you.

Here is an uncomfortable truth for people in pastoral leadership: people in your church are affected by self-harm, they don’t know where to turn, and they need you.

In the UK, self-harm (intentionally hurting or injuring oneself) accounts for around 150,000 admissions to hospital each year. Young people (especially adolescents), people living in poverty, and LGBT+ people are at particularly high risk[1],[2]. Researchers and health professionals believe that self-harm is under-reported, because of the level of stigma and shame that people experience when they disclose self-harm to friends, family, and health professionals. So, let’s accept that there are people in your congregation who self-harm, or live with someone who self-harms, or have a child who self-harms, or experience the sorts of mental health problems that make them more likely than average to resort to self-harming behaviours. Have you ever thought about how you would support them, or empower others in the congregation to offer support?

I started self-harming in various ways when I was a young child. I didn’t know there was a name for it then, and it would be years before I really understood what was going on, or sought help. Like many people of faith, I was scared that what I was doing was wrong, or sinful, and that God could never love someone who hurt themselves.

When I first disclosed to a youth worker at church (with the help of a friend) that I was self-harming, I was scared. I was 16, I was just beginning to find a place for myself and my faith in a church that my friends attended, and I wanted to know how to feel better. Unfortunately, the church’s response was not a helpful one. I was led to believe that I was sinning every time I hurt myself, that I didn’t have enough trust in God, and that my best (or only) route to help was to seek out Christian counselling that would help me to deal with my ‘same-sex attraction’ and in the process I would be healed of all symptoms of mental ill-health. I internalised that for years; the guilt and shame were overwhelming.

It took nearly four years to disclose to anyone else in a position of church leadership, when I finally told the pastor of an MCC church I had started to attend as a student. His reaction was calmer, more measured, and emphasised the universal nature of my experiences. Instead of focusing on what was wrong with my response, he talked about how we could deal with the distress underlying it. It was like a weight being lifted from my shoulders – here was a church in which I could be whole. There were many differences between these two responses, but what my experience came down to was this: in one, I felt judged, in the second, I felt loved.

It is a scary thing, to encounter self-harm for the first time. I recently led a group of ministers in a discussion of pastoral responses to self-harm recently, and one described their initial reaction to seeing a self-inflicted wound as, ‘visceral repulsion’. There is something within the healthy self that is repelled by the idea of imposing bodily harm on oneself. It’s hard to grasp; it feels more abstract than an eating disorder, or an addiction, but it’s very real and has its origins in a similar state of mind – needing to do something to overcome or adjust the painful feelings. The apparent severity of what is done (be it wound, burn, or overdose) cannot be conflated with the severity of their emotional distress – the two are related but not immediately analogous.

Spiritually, someone who self-harms is engaged in a process of trying to make manifest soul-pain that they cannot process. They are reflecting their internal pain on their body to try to make sense of it, but in doing so they often feel a deep sense of shame. If the shame is left unchecked, it starts to magnify the other pain and self-loathing that is already present in the individual. As a pastoral carer, you may not be able to soothe the soul-wounds, but you can reassure a child of God that they are loved and cared for, and they do not need to feel shame simply for the way in which they seek to understand and express their pain. There are a number of ways we can do this in pastoral care. The most obvious is to be fully available for people who self-harm, on their own terms. It can be tempting to try and ‘fix’ the problem, but when people have found a way to cope often it is enough just to sit with them in their pain and be there for them in their coping. It may be wise to encourage someone to seek support from a doctor, but you do not need to fix them.

The other thing we can do as pastoral leaders is to take a stand from the front. Talk about mental health – good, bad, and everything in between – in sermons and seminars, and encourage your congregation to see mental health and physical health as aligned. Just as neither cancer nor diabetes are caused by a lack of faith, or spiritual possession, neither is a personality disorder, or severe depression. Preach bravely about the love of God for all who suffer, and dare to name the unnameable. There are people waiting to hear it. There are people who need that reassurance more than you can possibly know.

Today – 1st March – is Self-Harm Awareness Day. There are loads of good resources being shared today to help you to learn more. Here are just a few, in no particular order:

Self-harm UK

Self-Harm Myths (TheSite.org)

Why we need to talk about self-harm (inourhands.com)

Self-harm (Christian Medical Fellowship)

 

[1] http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg16/evidence/cg16-selfharm-full-guideline-2

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scarred-soul/200911/the-relationship-between-self-injury-and-sexual-orientation