Volunteer / Youth Worker Development

3 Resources for Relational Recovery

Sarah Rice
August 10th, 2021

For most people, recovery from all of the challenges 2020 brought are really just in the beginning stages. We’re all somewhere along the spectrum of the Zoom/livestream community and reentry back to a “real life” community. I’ve found myself a little dazed when it comes to reconnecting to people in meaningful ways and relearning how to relate to people who might not be at the same recovery point as I am. We’ve laughed at how sometimes our teenagers can seem a little relationally stunted by how much time they spend in front of screens. I’m definitely feeling that on a personal level as an adult and find myself wanting to move to a better place mental health-wise, spiritually (in this post-2020 chaos world), and in terms of relational skills (which have been a little wonky since re-entry started.) 

It’s been helpful to me to take stock in what I can actually manage for myself in order to give mercy to everyone else I’m encountering these days. In addition to time spent with the Lord, it’s been helpful to me to invest some extra time in the upkeep of my own heart, mind, and spirit. Here are a few things that have helped me regain my footing and navigate life a little less like a newborn giraffe and a little more like someone who has an idea of where they’re going and how to get there. 

Improving Your Serve by Charles Swindoll

This book is one of the first things I ever read about Christian service and it was pivotal in my life at 15. My Young Life Area Director (Hi Bob Ramos!) gave it to me to read in preparation for going on Work Crew at Woodleaf. Here’s the thing: If you spend enough time working on messaging and programming, you can lose sight of why on earth you’re actually doing those things. Sometimes my To Do List becomes an idol, and not even one I LIKE! Reposturing my heart and remembering the real reason why I care about caring for youth students and volunteers has been a breath of fresh air. I’m sure there’s some sort of analogy between being cooped up on account of Covid and feeling cooped up by a job description. I’ll just say that it’s been freeing to set down some of the things that I had allowed to be “king” so that I could actually bend my heart to the One who really sits on The Throne. This book was written in 1981 and it’s just as relevant now as it was then. It’s also cheap and easy to find. Your church library might even already have a copy.  (Hebrews 10: 24-25)

Relational Intelligence by Dr. Dharius Daniels

The shut down of the World and intentional isolation from people (friends, family, and co-workers) has brought a bunch of struggles to the surface. It’s almost like the world forgot “how to people.” We’d be wise to throttle back some voices to appropriate levels. This book easily explains all sorts of roles that different people play in our lives and how it’s a good thing to consider how much time and energy we devote to certain relationships. Just the exercise of mulling over which people have the most influence on your thoughts and time is valuable. If you’re one of those people that’s a “peopling pro” and a hard core extrovert and never experienced relational loss through the last 18 months, good for you. For the rest of us, there’s this book! Don’t like reading? No problem. The audiobook exists and is great! It will make you feel like caring for other people well is possible and creating boundaries in relationships isn’t unkind. It also means that we can walk out our purpose and calling in our ministry in a way that honors God in our relationships. This is good stuff. (Ephesians 4: 2-3) 

The Ways We Grieve, Understanding the Emotional and Biological Processes that Bind Us All” 

A digital workshop by OnSite  https://onsiteworkshops.samcart.com/products/grief/

Maybe you’re like me and experienced a major loss before Covid complicated the world and really compounded the pain and difficulty with the grief you were already experiencing. Maybe you’ve experienced a loss or losses through Covid. Maybe someone you love has encountered serious mental health issues, maybe not even due to Covid. Maybe that someone is you. Get this: There’s not a person who ever lived that has not experienced grief. We can’t escape it, but we can choose how we’ll move through it. This digital workshop was immensely helpful to me. It’s presented in 7 video sessions that total 80 minutes (about 10 minutes each).  It’s hosted by Cindy Westcott, who has more than 30 years of experience with helping people through grief and who you will probably want to hug by the end, even if you are not a hugger. It comes with a digital workbook that you can fill out online or print out to work through while you complete sessions. Considering what constitutes normal grief and what exactly it is we need to grieve was really helpful to me. It helped me realize what I was missing in my own life, so that I could seek those out and be better equipped to help care for others in similar situations. None of us can elud grief. So, it makes sense to gather tools to help ourselves with it, while simultaneously gaining experience to help comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 anyone?). There are several online courses through OnSite, but this one was invaluable to me and the best $40 I spent this year. 

Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice has been married for 21 years to her railroading, Navy veteran sweetheart, Dave. They have 4 kids (2 college aged and 2 high schoolers), an English Springer Spaniel that does no tricks, and an actual Hens Deep fortress of chickens in Lower Alabama. Youth Ministry is in her blood, as a Work Crew/ Summer Staff alumni of Oakbridge and Woodleaf in the mid 90s and the kid of 2 former Young Life staff members. It’s all over her house, as a parent of 4 emerging adults. And it actually gets to be a part of her job, as the NextGen Admin of her church. She used the better part of her brain as a SAHM of young kids for many years, sometimes while Dave was on deployment, and started a blog about trying to live out an authentic, faith-filled life when you don’t have all the answers. She also spent a bunch of years working in labs in the pharmaceutical industry and at the University of Arkansas’ Poultry Science and Plant Pathology Departments. She also started an Elementary Game Theory business to teach logic to elementary school aged kids at after school programs in rural Alabama because there’s beauty in the logical way God ordered the world. She’s been a part of all kinds of family ministries over the last 3 decades from Young Life to Awana and wrote a couple of Bible studies for young women. She thinks cheese is the best snack when you’re cranky and that correcting typos & movie trivia should each be an Olympic sport. She also thinks helping parents win with their kids in matters of faith is a vital hill to fight on for the youth ministers of today. Connect with Sarah on Instagram @mamaricecake.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.