Past Due

Pain, Pissed, PTSD, Pitiful, Pointless, Problems, Petty

Anxiety, Anger, Alone, Afraid, Absent, Ambiguity, Agitated

Stress, Sorrow, Silenced, Sick, Stuck, Siloed, Shell Shocked

Trauma, Triggered, Tired, Trapped, Tunnel Vision, Turmoil, Threatened

Depression, Devastated, Doubtful, Done, Depleted, Dire, Despair

Unhealthy, Uncaring, Unsettled, Unprepared, Unmotivated, Useless

Exhaustion, Enraged, Energy-less, Envious, Exit plans

When I look at each line of words, they represent what I see in homes, families, workplaces, schools and churches. I do not have one friend, loved one or colleague who is not currently dealing with a major life stressor at this time. Not one. We are the helpers who have become helpless. We are the houses that have become homeless. We are the peacemakers who live in fear. We are books without words to read. We are the anchors floating on top of endless waves. We are heavy eyelids at war with the light. Because our light has forgotten how to shine. It has been overwhelmed by an onslaught of pandemic loss, betrayal trauma and flat-lined hope in need of resuscitation.

If we carefully examine all the words and emotions listed and look down, we see the words, PAST DUE. So now the words become an intervention, a PSA, and a wake-up call that we are PAST DUE. PAST DUE for making that call to a therapist, spiritual director, clergy, doctor or a trusted friend. All who I hope will bring us back to the therapist. Even if just for a few sessions of debriefing and re-calibration. And no one is exempt. Especially many therapists who are also in a season of holding unprecedented pain, stressors, deep grief and loss for others.  They, too, are in need of regularly checking in with their own therapist. And many most likely are also past due.

We are not in a white-knuckling or black-knuckling it moment. We are in a “your emotional and physical health is having a devastating effect on you, your loved ones, your work, your calling, your vision, and your significant relationships” moment. It is affecting our ability to fully love in the ways we are used to. To attend to what is important to us and for us. Otherwise, we remain mayor of the town of good intentions and fleeting special moments. 

Most of us are so mentally fatigued that the thought of making a phone call to a therapist is met with a sigh so deep that the upward wind from exhaling pushes our eye roll even higher inside our lids. But it’s still the answer, I believe.

We don’t have to watch ourselves or our loved ones drown in the weight of all those words and emotions. Clarity is available. Healing is available. Hope is available.

It’s that place where our eyelids welcome and make peace with the light at the end of the tunnel. Where our memories are restored and reset. Where our joy is restored and reset. Our possibilities actually become reality again. God is God enough again. We are enough again.

All of us, every part, deserves to be well and nourished. Allowing us once again to have the bandwidth to love ourselves and love our neighbor. Energy to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly. Welcoming long lists of joy-filled words of promise and goodness and resplendent emotions. 

As a therapist, I’ve had the privilege of providing space for such hope. I have witnessed the surprise of the survivor seeing their strength for the first time. Relationships on the brink, salvaged. Trauma unspeakable, faced and silenced.

I’ve seen counseling offices transformed into a catwalk where peace struts down the runway of hope, applauded by me as I’m seeing vibrant eyes awaken to their dreams again. No longer playing a perpetual game of emotional and spiritual catch-up, they now take a sankofa-like gaze over their shoulder.  Staring down their past and all unhealthy life rhythms. Poised now to look forward with clarity and wisdom. Witnessing the return of their energy and marveling at the momentum of their joy. Because a weight has been lifted. Margin has been created to accommodate creativity.  Rest is no longer seen as negotiable. New insights, aha moments, sacred tears, resources and tools have been acquired. Replacing physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion, with inexhaustible possibilities.  Exchanging fleeting good intentions for their heart, mind and soul care with action. No longer permitting their fullest expressions of love, their ability to see the good or their sense of peace and inner freedom to remain past due.

Deborah Masten lives in Redondo Beach, CA. She is currently the Director of Global Personnel with Serve Globally – a part of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Formerly on staff at Quest Church in Seattle as the Associate Director of Global and Local Ministries. Deborah is a licensed therapist. She lived in Cambodia for 14 years, has 3 adult children who live on the West Coast, and is captivated by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Deborah is also a huge Lenny Kravitz fan!

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