We are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and my guest is therapist, and author KJ Ramsey. We’re taking about faith and suffering, our bodies and stress, grief, and our communion with Christ.
When we suffer, we might question our faith, or we might question whether we have a strong enough prayer life, or wonder if there’s more we could do to earn God’s favor. We tend to think that more effort should produce a blessing.
K.J. says, “I think that for me, finding hope and suffering and finding joy in suffering, being able to be resilient within vast amounts of uncertainty. That has largely come through dwelling in the scripture and seeing what the whole scripture says about what is the story that God is writing in our world and where does my life fall within it.”
What becomes clear is that God chose to enter into our suffering.
Now, as we walk through the uncertainty of our times, in this coronavirus pandemic, we can know we are not alone. Still, we have lost much. Acknowledging that grief and allowing ourselves to grieve the losses is human and healthy. It’s not a sign of a small faith, but rather, it’s an invitation to draw close to God, who loves us.
KJ is a therapist and a writer. She’s written for multiple publications, including Christianity Today and Relevant. Her new book, This Too Shall Last: Finding Grace When Suffering Lingers, comes out May 12th.
This Too Shall Last: Finding Grace When Suffering Lingers
Kay: My guest today is KJ Ramsey and KJ is a therapist and a writer and she’s written for multiple publications, including Christianity Today and Relevant. Her new book comes out in May, it’s called This Too, Shall Last Finding Grace When Suffering Lingers.
[00:00:45] KJ, first of all, thank you for being with us today.
[00:00:48] KJ-Ramsey: Thank you for having me.
[00:00:50] Kay: KJ let’s, let’s just start, with you and your book, and then we’ll move on to current events. Because, as at the time when we’re recording this, there’s a lot going on in the world that is so new to all of us, and we will, we will get there, I promise. But, because I think in terms of where we are in the world right now, and it’s such a timely message that you have.
[00:01:15] I’d like for our listeners to know a little bit about you and because of the type of questions that we’re all asking now, and the discomfort and the fear that we are feeling, you’ve not necessarily in a pandemic, but you, you’ve been down the road a little ahead of us. And so if you would tell us a little bit of your story.
[00:01:37] KJ-Ramsey: Yeah. So living in uncertainty, and loss is a big part of what my whole adult life has been. So I, I, I’ve lived with a severe autoimmune disease called ankylosing spondylitis for 11 years now. And, and along with that, my husband and I have experienced a lot of spiritual abuse and job loss. So combine my physical illness with some deep spiritual pain and job insecurity because of both.
[00:02:18] And that has really made me and my husband have to dwell in the place where we don’t know what our future holds, which is really all of us all the time. But we’ve had to live with that palpably in our faces for our whole marriage. We’re about to hit, um, our 10th anniversary in June, and we’ve had to live in the place of. Finding that God is with them, even when our life doesn’t feel good and doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better. Um, so yeah, both through disease and, and some deep spiritual pain and wounding, I’ve had to learn how to live in this deeply painful place and find that there’s still goodness here.
[00:03:09] That’s all. So that’s a little bit of a start.
Kay: and part of that road that you have traveled, that’s, that’s driven you in into God’s word. In a way maybe that a lot of us haven’t gone down that you know, some, sometimes, I mean, you can just kind of tell how the, the sometimes we kind of fling scripture around, without really grappling with it and with its meaning and the full meaning rather than just taking one verse.
[00:03:39] You know, but really saying was this whole passage say, and what does it say in the context of the whole word of God? And, and, I imagine that you have spent some time doing those deeper things. And in doing that, what have you found.
[00:03:55] KJ-Ramsey: Yeah. Well, you know, I think the way that the western church especially looks at suffering, is as though it is an indication of a lack of faith.
[00:04:08] KJ-Ramsey: Because we’ve so tied our faith in our risen Lord with progress with the American dream. So we think that more effort should produce a blessing, that a stronger faith and praying harder will produce the life that you want.
[00:04:33] Even if we don’t consider ourselves adherents of the prosperity gospel, it’s sunk its teeth into our souls. And. So when my life was turned upside down by suffering by this disease that came and never left, I had to find my way back to the whole story of scripture. I had to find my story. Within a bigger story and to see that the whole Canon of scripture tells us that pain and suffering actually have a place in the plotline and that within the scope of scripture, our suffering is part of the story of God making all things new.
[00:05:18] But that story isn’t done yet though the end has been written, we’re not to the end yet. And so. I think that for me, finding hope and suffering and finding joy in suffering, being able to be resilient within vast amounts of uncertainty. That has largely come through dwelling in the scripture and seeing what the whole scripture says about what is the story that God is writing in our world and where does my life fall within it.
[00:05:53] So I think that’s what I would encourage people to. To begin to explore is not just what does Romans eight 28 say about your life, but what does the whole story of how God relates to his people say about where you’re at and, and what is our hope? What are we longing for, and where are we headed? And I think where we’re headed, I think what scripture makes clear is that we’re headed to God making all things new.
[00:06:23] And when we suffer because of Jesus, we get to be. United to this power in the midst of our weakness that we can’t know in any other way.
[00:06:36] Kay: [00:06:36] Yeah, that’s good. And we’re all in this strange new place. We are recording this on April 3rd, 2020 in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic. So if you’re listening to this years down the line, you can look in the history books and see what happened because we’re in the middle of it right now.
[00:06:59] Kay: people all around the world are at home. We’re practicing social distancing and we’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty. And, um, it feels like the ground is moving under us every day.
[00:07:13] KJ-Ramsey: Yeah.
[00:07:14] Kay: and our usual coping mechanisms are, are groups that we go to are, we can’t even go to church right now and be with our people or our jobs right now. Many, many people, either are sitting home and trying to do their work alone or have been let go from their jobs because their businesses are closed right now because people can’t go in.
[00:07:39] KJ-Ramsey: Okay. Yeah.
[00:07:40] Kay: So much uncertainty and, and it’s global, like there just doesn’t seem any place that’s not touched.
[00:07:48] Why do we do when we’re so alone?
[00:07:51] KJ-Ramsey: Mm. Yeah. This is such a profound time of upheaval.
I find so much comfort in and Jesus in that Jesus knows the agony of feeling forsaken and the depth of feeling isolation, that Jesus was no stranger to anxiety, that in the garden of Gethsemane as he was about to die, it was preparing for his death. That he was so in so much anguish that he had sweat, like drops of blood. And, and when I read that as a therapist, I think Jesus had a panic attack. Our God knows what it is like to have your, your whole body in life feel like it’s shaking.
[00:08:55] Like, like you’re breathless, like God willingly and enfleshed himself into a life where he would feel that on our behalf and carry all that weight to the cross. I find so much comfort there. So in the middle of our aloneness, Mmm. I think we have a God who. Who knows where we’re at. He is not just the creator of the universe. He’s also the pain bearer of the universe. He. He moved in among us and decided to feel this weight of living in a broken world and in a broken body personally.
And I think that’s where we start. I think that’s where we started. I think it’s where we finish, uh, that there is a communion that we get to have with Christ in the middle of our uncertainty and in the middle of upheaval. That we can’t know when we’re so busy hustling hard to do things for God’s kingdom.
[00:10:16] Kay: Yeah, yeah. Two, two things there. As you were saying that, you know, Jesus told his disciples, I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you. And I thought it was interesting that he uses the word orphan because orphan is, that’s so much more than saying, I won’t leave you alone.
[00:10:41] An orphan is, is truly, truly alone. And unprotected, and probably feeling rejected.
[00:10:53]Kay: so much uncertainty in the life of an orphan and Mmm. I think in him saying that, I will not leave you as orphans. He’s acknowledging even there, you’re going to feel like orphans. There are, there are times when you are going to feel exposed. And broken and alone and Mmm. not provided for We need to acknowledge that, that we will feel that, that he understands that that’s something we feel. And the also says, I will come to you.
[00:11:32] KJ-Ramsey: Yeah.
[00:11:33] Kay: and the second thing when you, you said communion, I’m thinking literally about the practice of communion where we remember, do we, I mean, when we, when we take communion, how often do we do it um, some, just something we do. It’s something, it’s a ritual, but it’s in remembrance of him and the breaking of his body and that, and the shedding of his blood, which was for. Not only our salvation, but for our healing, and understand that there’s this tension between the already accomplished, it is finished
[00:12:17] KJ-Ramsey: Yeah.
[00:12:17] Kay: and the not yet, that we live in. That’s the space.
[00:12:22] KJ-Ramsey: And right now, as we, as we acknowledge the upheaval that we’re in, as we feel the weight of our uncertainty, we have ample moments where we get to acknowledge that God was broken on our behalf. That God chose to be shattered by suffering. So every place of our shattering right now where our souls just ache with what is happening with where our stories feel shattered, our futures feel like they are not going to come together like we wanted. Every place, every moment where we acknowledge that becomes a thin space where the not yet of God’s kingdom touches the already where we get to acknowledge and feel perhaps in a truer deeper way that God really did come to dwell among us and to make us new. These moments of feeling ripped apart by what’s happening in our world, I think are also moments where we get to more deeply know that God chose to allow his own life to be ripped apart on our behalf to to purchase and create our world being healed.
[00:13:56] Kay: And, you know, we have this space here where we’re home. And I know that not everybody has a quiet home or unnecessarily restful home. All right? Now you’ve got kids that are home that weren’t, weren’t there all the time before people are getting a little antsy. I know I uh, to the bank today because I needed to, but I took the long way there. Just to be out of the house, Um, but we have this kind of, in America, we have this idea that we always have to be productive. We always have to be doing something.
But then there’s this rest that Jesus calls to a, yeah. He, he calls us into that rest and that’s the place where we can sit with him. And find peace in him. And I just wonder if we’re doing that. We have so many things that are, fingertips that we can do. We can, where we can just kind of put a screen in front of us and how can we find…
[00:15:04] Kay: that peace? I mean, they’re there. How can we enter into that rest, I guess is my real question.
[00:15:10] KJ-Ramsey: Well, I think we are all in our country—I’m addicted to productivity. And it is where we have found a lot of safety and identity. And so right now with how scarier the world is, we are not capable of staying as productive as we were. So that coping mechanism is being stripped away from us. But I think a lot of us are finding that we feel, a continued pressure to produce from home in our jobs and we don’t know how to stop.
[00:15:59] and so then a lot of us are feeling guilt, and shame about just how little we’re getting done in a day. Mmm. There is an invitation here. You can’t do it. You can’t keep up with your life like you were. The weight of the world is too heavy. This is heavier than anything we have ever seen and. You are not made to be able to carry this weight.
[00:16:32] We’re swimming in a sea of anxiety and loss grief. I mean, you look at the numbers. I don’t know when, by the time this comes out, we’ll see how many people will have died by then. But the numbers that are being projected right now are massive. And the number of people who have already died massive.
[00:16:56] That we are, we cannot be unaffected by this grief. And so we have an invitation here to be honest about where we’re at, but this is too heavy for us, and that we can set aside our striving and let our souls be where we’re actually at. And, and that, like you’re saying, that’s where we. Can experience the grace and rest of a God who loves us, not for what we do, but for existing because we’re his children.
[00:17:31] Kay: I believe something happens when we allow ourselves to just be raw with our emotions before
[00:17:38] KJ-Ramsey: 100%. Yeah. I think that, you know, we talked about Jesus and him being broken on our behalf. Well, his own cry, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Comes from the Psalms. So let Jesus’s own words carry you back to the prayer book of God’s people. The Psalms are full of God’s people, being honest about where they are.
[00:18:06] And crying out to God, not as people who are purely steadfast in their faith, but as people with great needs and arresting anguish and profound anger. That is the cry of God’s people. That is what God has given us in his word as the main demonstration of what it looks like to be faithful in prayer. So we get to go there and pray along with God’s people throughout the ages and say, God, how long?
[00:18:46] How long? Oh Lord, we get to. Call out anger and, and, and lamentation on, you know, what? We wish our world; it was like right now go back. We get to go back to the very prayers that Jesus himself prayed. And I think it’s really in that. Place of letting ourselves be honest about how hard this is that our hope will rise.
[00:19:23] Kay: Yeah. and we’re in that place, and just as there’s a tension between the, you know, the kingdom that is and the kingdom, that is, is to be, it’s not yet, you’ve written in, in this book that’s about to come out, This Too Shall Last. The subtitle is finding grace when suffering lingers. And you talk about, The grace, but that, you know there’s suffering and joy can, can the two coexist.
[00:19:51] KJ-Ramsey: 100%
[00:19:53] Kay: Okay. That’s such good news. We needed to hear that.
[00:19:58] KJ-Ramsey: you can’t, I believe that you can’t have joy without sorrow.
[00:20:06] Kay: Hmm.
[00:20:07] KJ-Ramsey: really, it’s grief that makes space for goodness. This is the pattern of the human soul. And as we acknowledge the grit and groaning of where we’re at, who we are. Are enlarged by the Holy spirit to also see and taste and share the goodness of what’s here too.
[00:20:42] This has been my story. This is the church’s story. This is what we get to know more tangibly right now than we ever have before. God meets us in our grief because he took it on himself. And he makes grief the place where goodness grows.
[00:21:03] Kay: And it’s a place, um, think about when, when we go through things and we have those friends that stick with us through the hard times. The friends that come to visit when it’s, you know, when we’re in the middle just willing to be, you know, that I’m not trying to fix us, not trying to shame us or change us or. Push us in a direction, but just to they don’t come with an agenda, except to be with us in that and that in a way, even right now, Surely Jesus is there with us in our suffering. The friend that is always with us and always available to take, uh, take that space.
[00:21:53] KJ-Ramsey: Yeah. And Jesus is the friend that’s closer than a brother. Um, but we can’t see Jesus just an end right now. There’s so many people in our lives we can’t see . I think that. This time is in its profound pain is also such an invitation. I think that something I wrote about a lot in my book is that when we’re stuck in trying to make and, and identify the purpose in our pain, we can’t feel God’s presence.
[00:22:35] Because. When we’re stuck in an, okay a state of analysis, operating largely in the left brain, and we are anxiously trying to figure out why would God allow this to happen? What is the point? Um, our brains and our bodies can’t experience. We can’t turn on what is called the social engagement system of our brains.
[00:23:03] And. So I think I bring this up for listeners because Oh, and stress, what we know how to do is to run away from it, to avoid it, to pretend like it’s not as bad as it is. And when we do those things, we’re not going to be able to feel the presence of the invisible God. But if we can. Stop and remember our bodies.
[00:23:35] Remember that what is happening in our world really is affecting us and really is making us feel dysregulated physically, most moments of most days right now. And we offer our bodies a chance to breathe.That is what turns on your brain social engagement system, which is what you need, not only to connect with other humans, but to connect with the God who is here.
[00:24:01] So faith right now and always, but right now we can feel it more acutely and notice and notice it and lead into it more palpably. Faith actually looks like remembering that your body is fragile and susceptible to stress and that you can breathe in the midst of it. Acknowledged the breath of God. The spirit of God is in you because you’ve been United to Jesus, and from that place of physical care, self care, you will begin to feel the presence of the invisible God.
[00:24:37] Kay: what are some things that we can do? How can we take kind of some first steps towards doing, taking care of our physical bodies so that we can do that?
[00:24:46] KJ-Ramsey: Yeah. So I talk about breath prayer all the time because I think that our breath or actual in and out breathing is our first, first means of remembering that God is with us. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the spirit is called the breath of God.
[00:25:10] and that we. Have to breathe to live. So when you breathe, when you remember to take a deep breath, you really are offering your body a moment to remember that the breath of God is in you, that you are not alone.
[00:25:31] You are not forsaken. You were always connected to the spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. So first and foremost, we have to remember our bodies. We have to remember to breathe. We get to acknowledge throughout our days that we feel overwhelmed by all the news that we’re seeing, that we feel deep sorrow over the suffering of our world.
[00:26:00]That we feel anxious about the ways that our family’s futures are changing. Every one of those moments throughout our day, which is many, many moments. Because if you’re human, you are being affected by this in a lot of ways. Every one of those moments is a chance to breathe, to remember that when your body feels stress, overwhelm, anxiety, shame, guilt.
[00:26:29] Your body is sending signals throughout your whole body. Your brain is sending signals throughout your whole body that say like, you’re not okay. You’re not okay. That is a chance to stop and breathe. Offer yourself a physiological way to remember that God is with you. So I always start with breathing.
[00:26:50] Kay: Yeah.
[00:26:51] KJ-Ramsey: with breath prayer, you can just, you can just breathe. But. You know, saints, throughout the ages, Christians throughout the ages have used breath prayer. So tying your in and out your inhale and your exhale with a simple prayer. Like what I use is just Lord on my inhale, have mercy on my exhale and I just pray that in my head.
[00:27:13] There are other, you know, lines that you can use, but just a simple acknowledgement as I breathe, that I am dependent on God’s mercy to live and breathe and have my being and that that is a good thing. And that remembrance in those moments, changes the way that I experience my day.
[00:27:34] Kay: what role does gratitude play in that?
[00:27:36] KJ-Ramsey: In breathing?
[00:27:37] Kay: Yeah. I guess in that whole experience of understanding that at once now we’ve taken that moment to acknowledge that dependence on him and his presence.
[00:27:49] KJ-Ramsey: well, I think the—we, we don’t necessarily have to start with gratitude, but I think that, when we are honest about our need for grace and we breathed into it, that gratitude will be the result because you will experience that God is with you. Even if you don’t feel everything is better. Cause you probably won’t
[00:28:18] That moment of breathing, that 30 seconds that you take to breathe in and out slowly to remember that the breath of God is in you will counter the story of scarcity that’s happening and playing out in your life right now. That. That you aren’t enough, that you won’t have enough, and that you’ve had enough with this already.
That’s the story that we’re all living, but the greater story that each of us is part of is that God is enough.
[00:28:50] Kay: Yeah.
[00:28:51] KJ-Ramsey: God has enough for all of our needs, even unto death. Yeah. And that he will always meet us where we’re at. Acknowledging that story that produces gratitude, a gratitude that is a bit beyond what we can understand or a gratitude that’s passed sometimes what our circumstances would appear to hold. But I think also, when we breathe, our bodies are put into a state where we are more capable of acknowledging and savoring goodness that’s here.
[00:29:35] So when you’re in a state of stress and alarm, which we’re, like I said all in like many, many times throughout the day, right now, you’re not capable of. Noticing as much beauty or goodness. But when you breathe, your body is going to be in a state where it’s more capable of seeing goodness too. So as we pay attention to our bodies and try to stay regulated right now, that’s gonna put you in a place where you’re going to be able to be more grateful because you’re going to be more at peace within yourself and capable of noticing what’s here. That’s good.
[00:30:13] Kay: was thinking about, you know, some of
[00:30:15] KJ-Ramsey: Okay.
[00:30:16] Kay: some of our experience with what is happening in the world right now is because our expectations have just been shattered. We have, um, I’m thinking of like high school students that were planning their graduations, you know, and now school’s out.And, all of these kinds of milestones in our lives and things when we have shattered expectations, what does that do to us? How is that playing into, how do you think that’s playing into what’s happening with us right now and, and what can we do.
[00:30:54] KJ-Ramsey: Well, I think that there, I’m seeing a lot of Christians. Treat these moments like we, this is exposing our idols and we should never have had these expectations in the first place. And I don’t think that that’s, an embodiment of the kindness of the God that I know. I think that God grieves with us for the way that our stories feel shattered right now. And. I think the invitation is to grieve. These are losses, not being able to graduate, not being able to see the people that you love. Having your future be changed. That these are losses. And I believe that every loss that we endure. That God endures it with us. He doesn’t judge it from a distance because we’ve been United to Jesus.
[00:32:04] Jesus is experiencing this in us with us, and so as we feel a deep sadness and sorrow for what’s happening in our lives. The God of the universe is experiencing that, feeling that with us on our behalf in us, God grieves for what we are losing and grieving too. So I think the simple answer is grieve. We have a lot to grieve right now.
[00:32:40] I wish that there was more that I could tell people to do. But, I think our culture is allergic to grief and we would rather just feel good, but grief is what your soul needs in order to, again, find. Goodness, in where your, what your life is becoming. You need grief. And, and that’s, I, I guess I would love people to know that we as Christians, we often treat our emotions like there fickle things that should not be trusted.
[00:33:17] But emotions are actually just body States. God made you with a body that is good and that feels. Because he wants you to pay attention to your life and yourself as though they matter.
[00:33:35] Every emotion that we feel from fear to grief to anger are. Physical first felt physically as sensations and their physical prompts to pay attention to ourselves as though we are loved by God and to pay attention to our needs as though they are things that God cares about.
[00:33:56] So every feeling of grief and loss and even anger that we have can propel us to the feet of Jesus. Who, who stands with us in our sorrow. I guess I just really want people to know that your, your big feelings that you have right now are not the enemy and they’re not, and they’re not only things that are being used by the enemy to keep you from faith.
[00:34:24] They’re actually the very ground where your faith can be nurtured and sustained because God wants to meet you in your big feelings with his big love.
[00:34:36] Kay: yeah. And that’s the thing that doesn’t leave. It’s the thing that won’t leave us. He’s, we, we get outcomes focused. But he’s focused on us and on the relationship. That, uh, to me, that’s very comforting. But yeah, that permission to grieve, because I think we have really, Mmm. Struggled to name what is happening with us on what we’re experiencing.
[00:35:08]KJ-Ramsey: Yeah. And you know, I study a lot of interpersonal neurobiology and the father of interpersonal neurobiology, talks about name it to tame it, that we have to name our feelings in order to tame them. You know, our feelings do feel really overwhelming right now cause there’s a lot of them and they’re intense.
[00:35:28] When we take time to name how we feel too. And that first starts with noticing your body. Notice where you feel tension. Where are you feel pain or, discomfort? Because that is often your first signal or way of figuring out what you’re really feeling. Notice your body. Take Mo. Take more than a moment, but take at least a moment to try to name what you might be feeling right now.
[00:36:02] You can use things. You can Google feelings wheel. There are lots of. resources out there where they have, it’s, when you Google it, you’ll see there’s like a really colorful wheel that has a ton of emotions. Words on there. You start in the center with some of the bigger feelings, like mad, and then you can trace your way out to get more specific from there.
[00:36:25] If you have a really hard time naming what you feel, you can use things like an emotions wheel to help you figure out what is this feeling. That you’re feeling, and by naming it, you actually are helping your brain and body relax. you know, it’s like Harry Potter, were, I think it was reminding us of like, fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.
[00:36:53] Naming this Massive loss. Naming these feelings that we have actually decreases their power to overwhelm us. So taking the time to slow down and stop trying to get so much stuff done and just name how you feel that is actually what’s going to bring you back to a place of feeling that God is with you.
[00:37:23] Kay: Mm. Mm,
[00:37:24] KJ-Ramsey: It takes time. It’s inconvenient, but it’s actually what you most need.
[00:37:29] Kay: and I know a lot of us, um. Especially, therapists, pastors, certainly the people that are working in healthcare. But I’m thinking kind of the next, the next circle out, the people that are trying to help the helpers that are on the front line, um, are hearing a lot. Yeah. You know, we’re, we’re sharing stories and even, you know, we’re listening to people’s stories on the news and, but especially the ones who, in their role.
[00:37:59] As a counselor or pastor or hearing the stories there, the other people are bringing their suffering, um, to us and maybe maybe there’s physical symptoms is the first clue that I’m bearing too much weight on my own. But what would you say to the counselors or pastors who are having people come to them maybe in more numbers than you’re used to or with things that you’ve never, where we’re all encountering things that we’ve never encountered before, but you know what I’m trying to get to there.
[00:38:35] KJ-Ramsey: Well, we, you know, as a therapist, I’m feeling the weight of my clients and the sum, I’m not just feeling my, the trauma that I’m going through personally in this, but I’m feeling what they’re going through too. And what I’ve noticed is that I can’t, I can’t carry the weight. It is too much. And while it’s a sacred thing to get to meet with them and to hear their stories and to make space for those stories, I have to make space for myself again.
[00:39:15] After having heard those stories, and I have to have ways to release the weight of their stories and their trauma back to God because he is the only one who can hold this weight.
[00:39:27] So I think that it’s paramount for those of us who are in helping professions right now. To first be honest, that we can’t hold the weight of the stories that we’re hearing and the things that we’re witnessing.
[00:39:43] We just can’t, our bodies were not made to encounter this much trauma, and that means we also have to be willing to stop. And to set aside pockets of time where we let ourselves slow and we acknowledge how futile we feel and fragile. We feel. And, um, take time to grieve what we’re hearing and to come back to ourselves and acknowledge how this worldwide trauma is affecting us.
[00:40:23] Personally, I think it’s. It’s essential and that, and, and sometimes that might be like, you have to take a whole day off. But sometimes that might mean, like I did this morning before our podcast, I had things I was dealing with before we started recording, and I needed to take a few extra minutes to center myself because I didn’t feel grounded.
[00:40:49] And I wanted to be able to be here with you and listen well and extend kindness. But I first needed to extend some kindness to myself that I, that I didn’t feel okay. So that was just me taking three minutes to breathe. Sometimes you might just have one minute, but when you acknowledge that, Whoa, that was a lot that I just heard, or a lot that I just encountered with somebody’s story, or w you know, the trauma written across their face of what they just lost.
[00:41:21] You get to take a minute to breathe and to, to release that weight back to God.
[00:41:29] Kay: Yeah. Because we can’t, I think that just that acknowledgement. And it’s not ours to bear, and I know we’ve probably all heard this a million times, I’m going to say it again, that the oxygen mask in the plane, right? Put it on yourself first before you help others so that you’re able.
[00:41:50] And I think we all just need to make sure we’re doing that. It’s hard because we want to, especially we kind of, if you’re wired to be a helper, um, the tendency is to keep going, keep going, and keep going. But there’s a crash. That comes.
[00:42:05] KJ-Ramsey: Well the thing is that we can’t fix this.
[00:42:09] It, we just can’t. There is nothing that we can fix. but what we can do is be present for one another even just through our screens. Cause that’s the main way that most of us can be present right now. And. to be present. Like we can extend the presence of God through our presence with one another, but you’re not going to extend a grounded, gracious presence.
[00:42:34] If your body is dysregulated and flooded with your own fear and, or, or the fears of those who you just helped, we have to keep going back to the presence of God. The peace of God and grounding our bodies there and help our bodies to feel okay, to not be in this heightened state of alarm. So that then when we meet with someone again, we can extend the grounded grace and peace of God.
[00:43:05] So I think for helpers right now, that means taking a lot more time in between for therapists, taking a lot more time in between sessions to ground ourselves. we have to protect space to be still so that our bodies can keep coming back to a state of calm, to offer that first to ourselves and then to our clients.
[00:43:29] And you know, the same is true for pastors, etc. But.
[00:43:33] Kay: Yeah. Yeah. As we wrap up the interview, I do want to come back to the book that This Too Shall Last. because I, it is such an important message. I think a lot of people, um, and church that. Or wondering, you know, w what does this situation that I’m in or the sickness that I have or, or this experience, there’s a shame even they can, can be there or a feeling that I’m not doing enough. We touched on that a little bit, but what do you hope will happen with this book as it comes out.
[00:44:12]KJ-Ramsey: I hope that the book will be a message of relief for those who feel like they’re drowning in sorrow. Number one, to be shaken by our suffering or to feel ongoing sorrow because of it does not mean that we are not faithful. That a story that includes suffering is a story that is still good and loved by God.
[00:44:53] I hope that it is relieving to people that your life doesn’t have to look amazing in order to still be a life that’s full of faith. And that. It makes people turn toward themselves and their stories with curiosity and compassion and courage that perhaps this God who chose to suffer as the means of showing us his love really does meet us in a unique way when we suffer.
[00:45:38] That perhaps these stories that are shattered by suffering are stories that make it possible for us to hold and know the most grace
[00:45:51] that perhaps we really are loved by God. Not for what we do, but for existing. And that perhaps because Jesus suffered and died and was Rose again by the spirit. But that spirit who lives in us can empower us to live these lives where we feel totally inadequate and totally shattered as full of grace and life and even joy.
[00:46:26] I pray that the book, um, just meets people with the compassion and the, uh, empowering energy of the Holy spirit to say that, Hm, maybe my life that is really full of sorrow can actually be full of grace and goodness too.
[00:46:52] Kay: KJ, thank you for being with us
[00:46:54] KJ-Ramsey: Thanks for having me. It’s good to be with you.
[00:46:57] Kay: Thank you for the book. Thank you for the articles and for the wisdom and the depth that you speak to these, these deep issues. You know, you speak to at a level that a lot of us are afraid to talk about?
[00:47:15] And you go there. And so I want to thank you for that. And I wish you well as we continue on this adventure that we are in.
[00:47:25] KJ-Ramsey: The same to you. Grace and peace to you in this too.