June 2020 Ministry Column
The Shadow Side of Service by Bessie Senette
In 2005, the double calamities of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita found our stress management team in Acadiana scrambling to keep boots on the ground. A team of about 20 specialists in right-brain therapies had to keep a team of about 300 crisis counselors emotionally and physically well enough to serve the displaced population of more than 16,000 evacuees in eleven parishes.
If you interviewed any of those service providers today, you would probably find that they would describe that time as the most purposeful and fulfilling work they have ever done. If you dig a little deeper and ask the right questions, you would also find that the end of that service left them exhausted, with a level of compassion fatigue they had never before experienced. Some were even diagnosed with PTSD. Every time hurricane season rolls around we, in southern Louisiana, get triggered by that fateful experience. Nobody here doubts that what we accomplished was true greatness, but at what cost?
Today, I can see the comparison of what our exceptional work has been through a global pandemic, but at what cost? Selfcare has never been more important. While hurricanes have an end date, albeit longer than anyone anticipated in 2005, this pandemic has, as of yet, an unknown expiration.
YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH, BUT IF SALT HAS LOST ITS TASTE, HOW SHALL ITS SALTINESS BE RESTORED? IT IS NO LONGER GOOD FOR ANYTHING EXCEPT TO BE THROWN OUT AND TRAMPLED UNDER PEOPLE’S FEET. MATTHEW 5:13
Dear Lord, help us to recognize the signs of fatigue and value our time with you in prayer, our families, and our restorative rest time as much as we value our service to others. Amen
For more on what the Bible says about selfcare: https://graceinmyspace.com/self-care-what-does-the-bible-say/
Bessie Senette, Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rogue Chaplain.