I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health this week. It started with Wednesday’s post, which featured a “check your battery” meme. And then, yesterday, I posted about becoming your truest self (with the help of a gorgeous new song from NEEDTOBREATHE), and then last night I came across a video on Facebook posted by my colleague the Rev. Mark Chiang, who was a year ahead of me in studies at Knox College back in the day.

Mark shared about how quarantine has been affecting him, and about how the removal of some of his normal outlets (leading church, participating in meetings, and enjoying social gatherings, for example) had him feeling less present and more angry – not angry at anyone specific, but just generally angry.

I appreciated his vulnerability and honesty. He also spoke a bit about how the ‘reopening’ steps were causing him some anxiety. I felt that.

A few weeks ago, one of my elders asked me how much I was looking forward to getting a haircut when it was allowable. And my answer was – “I mean, I want a haircut as much as anyone else (maybe more than most!), but I don’t think I’ll be rushing right out to get one. I think I’ll wait a week or two, and see how things go.”

And when the announcement was made that Toronto and Peel (because my hair salon is in Brampton, which is Peel Region), were entering Phase 2, it took less than an hour before my hair dresser called. I booked for almost exactly two weeks from that day. On the one hand, I’m pretty swamped right now as I get ready to go away on some summer vacation. On the other hand, I just knew I needed time to process the newly relaxed ‘rules.’

I’ve known for a long time that I’m a process thinker. I need time to process new concepts, new experiences, new ideas. It takes time before I know what I think or what I want to do, in just about every situation I ever face.

And that’s ok. I know this about myself, and as I grow older I’m getting better at saying what I need (“Can I have a day or two to think about that?” is a phrase that literally saves my life regularly!).

My point, in all this, is that you may be just like me, or the exact opposite. Either way – you’re allowed to be the way you are. You’re allowed to ask for what you need. You’re allowed to do things at your own pace, to ensure that you can do them to the best of your ability.

You are absolutely allowed to learn new things about how God made you! And you’re absolutely allowed to be different than others.

Nothing you learn about you will come as a surprise to the One who made you. What a gift that He knows us even better than we know ourselves, that He made us and that we know He doesn’t make junk!

Until tomorrow, dear friends, be encouraged even in the midst of your struggles. Know that nothing about you surprises God or makes Him love you less. Keep on going, keep on growing, keep on learning!