“Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep [Gate] a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?”
I recently wrote about this story from the beginning of chapter five in the Gospel of John. It has often perplexed me. Why would Jesus ask this of someone who has been sick for almost 4 decades, who is lying near a pool known to have healing waters? I’ve reflected on that for months and have come to two conclusions about wellness in general.
- I believe that Jesus wants wellness and wholeness for everybody. But since we have free will, Christ needs our permission to make us well. We must consent to open ourselves up to His healing touch, as He’ll never force anything—not even healing—upon anyone.
- I also think that while everyone wants to be well, some people may not be willing to do what it takes to accomplish that. Another reason could be because someone’s identity has become entangled with that which is making them unwell. Such as “I am a cancer patient” instead of “I am undergoing cancer treatments,” or “I am an addict” rather than “I am working on my recovery.” Those illnesses and conditions can become our identity rather than “I am a beloved daughter of God, a wife, sister, aunt…”
A few months ago, the Holy Spirit woke me up in the middle of the night with that same question: “Do you want to be well?” And as I pondered it, God started revealing much more to me. For example, this Lent, what if instead of giving up sweets, you gave up self-defeating thoughts? Or in lieu of skipping soda, you gained tools to effectively help manage your anxiety? Or rather than just giving up alcohol, you actually spent time working on the underlying reasons why you’ve been using it to self-medicate. What would happen if you stopped putting your well-being on the back burner long enough to begin creating new neural pathways in your brain? And what if you surrounded yourself with people who could support and teach you how to transform your mindset in a holistic way that addresses your body, mind, and spirit?
I’m Lisa Martinez, the founder of Little With Great Love, a ministry of storytellers using media to bring restoration in Christ. Through my own experience of seeking restoration as a survivor of childhood trauma from sexual abuse; my studies in mental health, writing, and theology at university; and 20+ years of ministry work, I am unfortunately very familiar with how the emotional toll of suffering affects our mental health. I want to take all that I’ve been learning through years of therapy, spiritual direction, and ministry aimed at healing my own brain and use it to accompany others who are suffering, to help them (or you) in a much more community focused and accessible approach. But before we get to the ground-breaking news of how we’re doing that this Lent, let’s first start with a little history…
We launched Little With Great Love back in 2020, and while we’ve all been dealing with the pandemic since then, we’ve been facing another epidemic for much longer—mental illness. 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental illness, with problems ranging from depression and anxiety to suicide and psychosis, to addictive disorders and beyond—every day. Depression alone affects an estimated 350 million people worldwide. According to research from the World Health Organization, Depression is set to outpace heart disease as the number one cause of disease burden worldwide by 2030. These are staggering statistics.
Many people share stats like these and say how we need to normalize talking about mental health issues. And while that’s true, our ministry wants to do something more than talk about it, we want to be part of the solution. While we’ve been providing many free resources over the past three years to bring restoration, we want to provide something that will work on the root of these issues while also providing the support and connection people need to make real and lasting changes in their mindsets.
So this Lent, we’ve partnered up with the best of the best to do just that. We’re beginning with our wheelhouse, women—because that’s who we are. And we’re starting with the cornerstone of emotional wellness because that’s the critical aspect necessary to support overall health and wellbeing. Many wellness programs focus on helpful things like meditation or how to lose weight, but fail to address the underlying causes. Namely, the emotions that are driving our thoughts, which are driving our actions.
According to the National Institute of Health, people who are emotionally well have fewer negative emotions and greater resilience—they can rebound from difficulties faster. Emotional health is what enables us to manage life’s stresses and sufferings, to better adapt to change and challenges, and to thrive, not just survive.
So we are excited to launch our newest program, Do You Want to Be Well? An 8-week Holistic Course on Women’s Emotional Wellness.
I invite you to join us, especially if you are a woman who is struggling with issues such as one of more of the following:
- Negative, self-defeating talk
- Constant worry
- Feelings of helplessness and/or hopelessness
- Often feeling overwhelmed
- Difficulty focusing
- Struggling with prayer
- Fatigue, exhaustion
- Having “unexplained” aches & pains
- Experiencing outbursts of emotion
These are all signs and symptoms of emotional distress. And you don’t have to go through it alone.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 22nd, we will begin our women’s emotional wellness course hosted by Certified Life Coach and Speaker, Christina Brown. Each week we will cover a new and important facet of emotional wellness, presented by experts in their fields, which span from mental health professionals, clergy, university professors, to professional coaches.
Dr. Sherri Yoder, Founder & Executive Director of Thriving Thoughts Global will speak on Mental Health
Julie Mouton, Licensed Clinical Social Worker will speak on Physical Health
Deacon Peter Znika of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish Parish in Valparaiso, Indiana will speak on Spiritual Health
Dr. Bob McCarty, Pastoral Ministry Consultant, Trainer & Adjunct Professor at Catholic University will speak on Stress Management
Lisa Mladinich, CliftonStrengths® Coach & Professional Certified Coach, Best-selling Author & Media Host will speak on Living Your Purpose
Fr. Joe O’Connor, Director of Seminarian for the Diocese of Syracuse & Pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Baldwinsville, New York will speak on Growing in Holiness & Wholeness
And we’ll end Easter week with all speakers and participants invited back to share Resurrection Stories.
These faithful and knowledgeable professionals have all made significant impacts on our lives and many others, so we’re so grateful that they will be the guides to help us along our Lenten journey.
Each week, that journey will offer LIVE online presentations with a testimony from one of our restoration teammates and practical takeaways provided by Coach Christina Brown. There will be live Q&A available afterwards, as well as opportunities to chat all throughout Lent in a private group. A weekly wellness tool will be provided to help you with your journey. And if you can’t make the live talk, replays will be available, and you’ll be able to join in on the online discussion.
It’s going to be a life-changing journey, one for Christian and Catholic women to grow in wellness to lead to greater wholeness. This isn’t a course full of self-help tactics but centered on God-help to restore our minds, bodies, and spirits.
So now I’ll ask you, friend, do you want to be well? Because if you truly do, you don’t have to figure it out alone. Registration is open now until we begin on Ash Wednesday, February 22nd. All the details and the registration are all found at littlewithgreatlove.com/shop. If we can address the way we think about how we feel in view of the whole person—our mind, body, and spirit—it will be one of greatest investments we ever make in our wellbeing. I truly hope to see you soon sitting in the virtual classroom of the first online emotional wellness course created for Christian & Catholic women, because I want to see your face emanating with the joy of the resurrection this Easter.