Processing Your Pain for Better Emotional Health

Chris Cook

Chris Cook

Director of Care Initiatives
Life has its way of injecting a venom inside of us that the human body and soul was just not built to carry – especially if it is left unspoken, unprocessed and without perspective.

Processing Your Pain for Better Emotional Health

In the last eight months with the onset of the COVID crisis, I have been powerfully reminded that everyone is carrying the weight of heartache and disappointment – from the lost job to the sabotaged graduation ceremony, to the ache of missed friendships – not to mention those who have lost a loved one and can’t have a memorial with more than a few people.
 
Life has its way of injecting a venom inside of us that the human body and soul was just not built to carry – especially if it is left unspoken, unprocessed and without perspective. Our emotional and physical health hinges on our ability to give ourselves permission to feel something.
 
There is good news, though. The Bible gives us clues on how we can address the pain and disappointment life gives us by entering into rhythms of healthy lament
 
Lament is an old word ­– but a powerful concept. You need only look at the Psalms to see the waves of emotion that are expressed, and not all of it are the cries of triumph. Almost a third of the 150 Psalms are classified as expressions of grief and sadness; and honest anguish is seen all over the Old and New Testaments.
 
What do the healthy laments from the writers of Scripture teach us? An awful lot of the time, we can release much of the pain that we’re carrying by just honestly expressing it out loud or on paper. 
 
“Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 4:1
 
And often all we need is a safe person and a safe space to process our pain for better emotional health. Save this infographic to your phone, share it with a friend, and refer back often.

We can help each other.

We can partner with a trusted friend or someone in our small group. We can set a time and turn off our phones. But where do we start?
 
Kensington has tapped the expertise of our Counselor Referral Network and other experts and developed a tool to help. It’s a starting place with ground rules and best practices for both the speaker and the listener so that a conversation can begin and some of the emotional pain and grief can be released.
 
Let me give you a little advice on how to get the most out of it:
 
If you are the one Sharing – it can be tricky to get started because it can all feel overwhelming. Be kind to yourself and start with something small and specific. Leave the long-term family dysfunction for another day and pick something you noticed in the last 24 hours. Even if you don’t have the perfect words right away, there are great resources to help you identify the feeling – and naming it is where processing can begin.
 
Listener – in many ways, you are the keeper of the other person’s soul in that moment – there’s a real vulnerability that opens up. Part of your role is to honor and protect it. 
 
They have to do their own work. You can’t fix what they are feeling, but you can encourage and empower them to process it. You can offer them words like “tell me more about that” or gently remind them of their “share well” pointers.
 
But mostly, you are there to maintain the safety of the space. Let me quickly drill down a bit on a few things that can get you off track:
 
Broken Confidentiality — that should be self-explanatory. What is shared must stay there (unless, of course they’re talking about hurting themselves – get professional help if that happens).  When a person is processing disappointment, it can come out in ways that they wouldn’t share on social media. Don’t even share what you hear with your spouse or partner.
 
Judgment – Remember you are dealing primarily with emotions, which are neither good nor bad. Even when the person sharing says something uncomfortable, remember that they are trying to put words to their feelings – don’t stop them in the middle of the process.
 
Fixing – Even if you can see it, don’t give them the solution. They will own it if they discover it themselves – even if that takes more time.
 
Toxic Positivity – There’s an old adage in recovery circles that says we are only as sick as the stuff we don’t talk about. Like it or not, unpleasant emotions are real and denying them only makes them grow. There is space later on for choosing gratitude, but we need to embrace the reality of all of our emotions.
 
Comparative Grief – I’m guilty of this one all the time. I say, “I have a home, a family and we are all safe. Considering the suffering I see every day, I have nothing to complain about.” That is patently untrue. Comparing our pain is fruitless; but if I can be honest about my own, I can be more present for others. And even if the pain I’m processing is relatively mild at the moment, I’m building important skills for when things get harder.
 
By the way, if you feel energized and strong as you listen to and encourage someone who needs a safe person, you may want to consider joining Kensington’s Pastoral Care Team as a Stephen Minister.  If you’d like to find out more, please email us.
 
For Both of You – I’ll say it again: turn off your phones. Also, remember to switch roles when the time is right.

Prayer & Gratitude

Through it all, it’s important to end the processing time in prayer and gratitude. Without dipping into the toxic positivity (see above), decide to focus for a moment on two or three tangible things that you are genuinely grateful for. That simple exercise brings perspective and energy to keep going and move with the pain that remains.
 
Finally, celebrate! You have both taken a really important step! Pray and thank God for the time of healing and trust Him with the pain and unanswered questions that remain. And remember to set another time to do it again. Lament happens best if it’s done in regular rhythms, so the times of overwhelming grief are less frequent.
One last thing: If you are finding it hard to carry the pain you are feeling – if it is affecting your relationships and persistently sapping your energy – you might benefit from more focused and professional help. Check out the Safe Sources We Trust section on the handout above for resources that can continue the journey.
 
You are stronger than you feel – you are more loved than you can imagine.

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Birmingham Campus

We are offering a time for our congregation to gather after the 10am service for prayer in the Groves Auditorium, 20500 W 13 Mile Rd, Beverly Hills, MI 48025.

On Sunday evening, Dec 5, parents of high school and middle school students are invited to the second half of our Edge gathering at Genesis Church, 309 N Main St, Royal Oak, MI 48067, at 6:15pm. We will have a breakout to equip parents in caring for themselves and processing pain with their children in times of tragedy.

Parents & Student Resources

Parents – self care is critical. It’s important to do your own processing with another adult so that you can be more present as your child processes. Here are tools that you can use to get you started.

Podcast

Helpful Blogs

Other Materials

Counselors Are Needed After Tragedy

“The aftermath of the Oxford shooting tragedy will undoubtedly result in traumatic symptoms and experiences across our communities for quite some time. Healing the brain through evidence-based therapies is absolutely possible with clinical guidance. There is a valuable village of Trauma Therapists with collective resources standing by for Oxford, for both direct and secondary survivors to engage in therapy. Until then, we honorably hold a sacred space, as students, families, staff and school partners continue to mourn.” -Laura Azoni, LMSW, Founder of Sanctuary Services

Orion Campus

We believe that unity at this time is more important than ever. Several churches in the area are partnering together to offer space for students to begin the process of healing.

We will have several grief and trauma specialists on site this Sunday evening at our Orion Campus (4640 S Lapeer Rd Lake Orion, MI 48359) from 5-6:30pm and will have a night of prayer, worship and an opportunity for students to process with each other.

Tate Myre Funeral:
Monday, 12.6 Visitation 1 to 8pm
Tuesday, 12.7 Visitation 10-12pm and funeral at Noon

Clinton Township Campus

We will be offering a time for our congregation to gather after each service for a time of corporate prayer in the Greatroom. Prayer will be offered at 10:15 am and 12:15 pm. (25000 Hall Rd, Charter Twp of Clinton, MI 48036)

This Sunday at 3:30 pm as a community we want to gather, pray and mourn together. We are all looking for answers and wondering why tragedy happens but we can find hope and peace in Jesus. 

Troy Campus

Join us Sunday night, December 5th for a Community Prayer Vigil at Kensington Church at 6:00 pm. Invite friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers to come together for a time of hope and prayer. 

Following the Vigil, at 7:00 pm, there will be breakouts for students and for parents to process and be equipped in caring for themselves and those around in times of tragedy.

Marriage Classes

What grows marriages? Focusing on the two of you and being in community!
The Marriage Course includes seven sessions, designed to help couples invest in their relationship and build a strong marriage. Some couples do the course to intentionally invest in their relationship, others are looking to address more specific challenges. Either way, the course offers essential tools and practical ideas to help you build a relationship that lasts a lifetime. The Marriage Course is based on Christian principles but designed for all couples with or without a church background.

Please email marriage@kensingtonchurch.org with any questions.

Financial Peace University (FPU)

Financial Peace University (FPU) is a catalyst to help people live in financial freedom and enable them to have a posture of openhandedness. We have witnessed numerous Kensington families experience life change as a result of applying Biblical truths to their personal finances. The real blessing is seeing people create lives of margin that allow them to hear and respond to the Lord’s calling on their lives.

Please email discipleship@kensingtonchurch.org with any questions.

Bible Basics

Whether you are brand new to the Bible or have been reading it for decades, Bible Basics is a course that will help you understand the overall flow of the Bible. Over the course of several weeks, learn how the Bible came from the original writers to the English versions we have today. We’ll look at the big-picture story of the Bible and how all the individual books add to the whole. We’ll even learn a little about the history of the Jewish nation. But most of all, we’ll grow in our awe of the amazing author of this amazing book!

Please email discipleship@kensingtonchurch.org with any questions.

All Campus

Orion

Clinton Township

Alpha

What is my purpose? What value does the Bible have in my life? How do I pray? How can I grow in confidence to share my faith? These are the big questions that are at the heart of what it means to have a relationship with God. Alpha is a space to explore life’s big questions, to say what you think and to hear other people’s points of view. Over ten-weeks you will explore and discover while listening to weekly topics, participating in table discussion, and developing community. Alpha courses meeting in-person gather around a meal.

You don’t have to come for the whole series—just check it out for the first session and see what you think. No pressure.

Please email discipleship@kensingtonchurch.org with any questions.

All Campus

Orion

Troy

Clinton Township

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For additional questions, please contact giving@kensingtonchurch.org or call 248.786.0637

GROUP LEADER DEVELOPMENT

Together Again

updated June 23, 2021

It’s been life-giving to be in-person for our weekend services since last July when we reopened. If you haven’t yet, we invite you to join us in person sometime soon.

Reservations and ticketing have been discontinued at all our campuses.

Masks are optional at all services, events, and ministry gatherings for kids, students, and adults. We know that everyone needs to make the right health decisions for themselves and their family, so if you feel comfortable removing your mask, you may. And if you’d like to continue wearing a mask or face covering, you may do that as well. This is a personal choice that only you can decide what is best for yourself when attending in person at Kensington.

If you are sick, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or have possibly been exposed to COVID-19, please plan to stay home and participate in our services via our many online streaming options.

At the start of the pandemic, Kensington’s Executive Team commissioned a group of staff members as a COVID Task Force to establish protocols and procedures for the safety of our church community. Thanks for sticking with us throughout all the changes and adjustments over the past 15 months.

We’re grateful to be together again!