It’s a simple question. Are you okay?
With typical flippant answers to the question “how are you doing?” we rush to fill the empty airspace with “good, we’re good.” And yet, my office could be booked six days a week, twelve hours a day with counseling appointments filled with failing marriages, anxiety-riddled adolescents, and lonely adults. We, as a society, are not okay.
Loneliness has been a growing problem for decades—with some social scientists estimating that 61 percent of adults in the United States feel lonely—and it’s only been made worse by last year’s COVID-19 lockdown. While keeping to ourselves helps prevent coronavirus’ spread, we humans are social creatures, and prolonged isolation takes a toll on our mental and emotional health.
Many reports from adolescent studies state that one-third of 13 to 18-year-olds suffer from varied sources of anxiety disorder. Almost 50% of teenaged females are greatly affected by anxiety. More than 7% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have been diagnosed with anxiety. And more than 3% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have been diagnosed with depression.
Almost 50% of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce or separation. Researchers estimate that 41 percent of all first marriages end in divorce. I counsel plenty of marital difficulties, and honestly, most can be repaired. But that takes work. In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, I read the following; “Over the years, researchers have determined certain factors that put people at higher risk for divorce: marrying young, limited education and income, living together before a commitment to marriage, premarital pregnancy, no religious affiliation, coming from a divorced family, and feelings of insecurity.”
I’m no Einstein, but can we not see the big, bold, highlighted lettering on the wall? We are in a mess! And the fabric of our country is under attack. But before you go waving your red or blue political buttons at me, hear this. We are messed up politically, educationally, racially, and spiritually, but we are in crisis mode emotionally!
You could go all John Wayne on me and tell this generation to toughen up. You could blame one political party or another. You could blame the schools, or the churches, or the president. But when it all hits the fan, we have nowhere to look but in the mirror!
While we have been fighting political wars that have burned through billions of dollars and countless hours of uncivilized discourse, we have allowed America to be the epicenter of mental illness. Rather than fixing problems, we have spent all of our time fixing blame on others. Rather than supporting educators that can serve our students, we’ve lobbied for preferential curriculums. Rather than churches loving on communities, we’ve focused on megachurches and celebrity pastors. Rather than the government serving its people, our government just wants to bicker and sling crap at each other while grasping for more personal and party power. Friends, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, is it not?
That is why I’m spending a great deal of my time and energy creating ClearPath Counseling Network. I can see, in my mind’s eye, a robust network of resources, listeners, prayer warriors, counselors, and most importantly, well-equipped and educated clinicians. I can see a network where parents sitting at their kid’s games will refer friends to ClearPath. I see a day when schools and churches connect for the betterment of our society and families as they join the greater good to help support our communities with real, affordable, practical care. I see a network of providers that will rise above the clutter of our white-noised-filled world and focus on the person in front of them, rather than the one that can pay the most. I am committed, along with my partner and friend, Julie Homrich to build something that will tangibly, practically, and affordably care for children, adolescents, families, couples, and adults. A place that is accessible, helpful, and safe. A place for every color, race, creed, faith, and sex. I’m finding that it isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t cheap. But is worth building! More to come on ClearPath Counseling Network!
If you’ve read my articles before, you know that I have zero tolerance for the foolishness in politics. I considered running for office, but I honestly don’t know if I’ve got the stomach for it. I do know that when the Divine was so kind as to call me into His service, I was called to make a difference. When I first got to Sugar Hill Church as Lead Pastor almost ten years ago, I knew it was only a matter of time before we would eliminate our debt, invest ourselves into public schools, community, our local municipalities, educating young Latino students, feeding hungry people, and loving on anyone and everyone that came across our path. And now, we have two huge initiatives on the horizon.
First, the ClearPath Counseling Network. We will soft-launch the network this fall and be open and ready to serve in January of 2022. Julie has done a masterful job of creating our network, assessments, and developing our first wave of clinicians. I think we could see this modeled in churches and schools across the country! The second initiative will start with some baby steps until will can crawl, walk and someday run. It will be focused on serving single mothers. Imagine a holistic service that can assist single mothers with practical help like parenting skills, financial management, housing, personal care, proper education, GED counseling, job skills, and job placement. All of those tools and more, wrapped in the kind of love and care that Jesus Himself instructed the church to show! White, black, brown, green, or purple – Moms that are struggling and on their own need help in these weird and tumultuous days! I am just a big enough fool to believe that we can build both of these initiatives and by 2023 have both of them cooking with gas and ready for replication.
I’ll bet that most of you can help, and in the months to come, I’ll let you know how you can be a part of it all. In the meantime, don’t lose hope! Every single problem that this country faces is within our grasp if we were to somehow decide that Jesus of Nazareth was right then and He;’s still right. “Love One Another.” I say it every single week, and I believe it more every single day – If we would individually, then as communities place Jesus and His teachings in the right priority of our lives, we will discover every solution to every problem!
The problems of loneliness, anxiety, mental health, marriage, and family are all about our hearts. We really can be the greatest country on earth AND be the most grace-filled, caring, kind country on the planet. As a matter of fact, you cannot have one without the other!
Let’s start with three simple steps in our personal lives:
- Choose to talk with your family today (apart from text and devices)
- Choose to be grateful for what you have today. When you’re grateful for waht you have, what you have is always enough.
- Choose to extend a kindness to someone that you cannot get anything in return for today.
It’s that simple and it’s a good start!
Talk Soon, Chuck