From Stressed Out to Emotionally Well
By Lindsay Peyton
Ready to hit pause and reset before you start living again? The TAC may just have the perfect solution this November. The TAC has partnered with the Upper Room, to hold a transformative retreat featuring Rev. Junius Dotson, general secretary of Discipleship Ministries. The two-day session is designed for clergy and laypeople who want to move away from feeling overwhelmed, depleted and depressed – and want to step into the light, toward spiritual well-being.
“They’ll learn spiritual practices they can integrate into their lives,” Dotson said. “They’ll be able to connect in a lot of different ways and open up to a lot of different people.”
His goal is for guests to take time for a deep breath and personal assessment. “Hopefully, they will be encouraged and inspired to continue this journey,” Dotson said. “I want them to leave renewed and refreshed.”
Dotson will lead the way, sharing his own personal story of struggle, depression and grief.
His own journey began with a breakdown while he was preaching at a funeral. He was literally saying, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul,” when he felt something was not right.
“In my head, I knew I was not going to make it through the sermon,” Dotson said. “I tried to hurry through. I collapsed and woke up in an ambulance.”
While in the hospital, realizing that he had worked himself into exhaustion. “There was only so much I could take,” he said.
He was spiraling into depression. From the outside, he had all the trappings of success, with a well-regarded church plant in California under his belt. “But personally, I had drifted off course,” he said. “You’re working 24-7. It’s overload. I did not manage things well.”
The weight of leadership, the responsibility and stress were taking a toll on him. But his physical collapse pushed him toward a spiritual, emotional and mental reexamination.
His severe depression led him to a therapist’s office to start looking at his priorities and reconsidering his “why.” He also dove into journaling and worship. “It was about finding places where I could reconnect with God,” he said.
“The church is really the place where we can come to be open and authentic,” he said. “But often people going through this stop coming to church. There’s a lot of embarrassment and shame.”
Dotson wants to help put an end to the stigma surrounding depression. By being open and vulnerable as a leader, he also hopes others in leadership position do the same, showing that anyone can become burned out, exhausted and depressed.
“I need to get my story out, because people should know they’re not alone,” he said. “People should know they have fellow pilgrims on this journey.”
He added that individuals should not be afraid to seek professional help for their mental and emotional well-being. Church leaders, he believes, can provide insight into mental and emotional health to their congregations.
“As leaders, what can we do to create space for this real, vulnerable and authentic way of being?” he asks.
Attending the Upper Room Soul Reset Retreat is an ideal way to get started on that path. The Texas Annual Conference Soul Reset Retreat is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 20 and Thursday, Nov. 21 at Camp Allen, 18800 FM 362 in Navasota. Registration includes accommodations, meals, snacks and a special gift. For more information, visit upperroombooks.com/event/soul-reset-retreat or email firstname.lastname@example.org.