By Jessica Dortch, AFRO Staff, [email protected]
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and the Rev. Junius B. Dotson tackles that topic, along with many others, in his latest book, Soul Reset. As the current CEO of Discipleship Ministries in Nashville, Tenn., Rev. Dotson has been in ministry for almost three decades, however, his journey to holistic spirituality started early in his priesthood.
Starting out as the pastor of a local church, Rev. Dotson beared all of the responsibility and pressure that comes with any startup business. In exclusive with the AFRO, Dotson revealed that about three or four years after the church opened, he experienced an emotional breakdown. This episode would later lead to a diagnosis of clinical depression and come as a complete shock to the pastor.
“That’s really when my journey to wholeness began,” recalled Dotson.
The Soul Reset series was created to address the stigma of depression, suicide, burnout, and grief as it relates to personal and professional roles. Most of the time, people who are in leadership positions feel that vulnerability is a weakness, and that they have to “be strong for others,” when in actuality, there is power in testimony and transparency.
“Sometimes we super spiritualize everything, so if a person is in need of therapy or even medication, it is looked down upon as if Jesus can’t heal it all,” the author explains. As a disclaimer, the reverend is not saying that Jesus isn’t enough, but rather that the Lord works through people. “The source of healing is God, but God heals in various ways,” he clarified.
“Part of my rationale, impotence, and desire to write this book is to encourage our churches to be a safe place, and to be places that create authentic community where people can share honestly. Sometimes it’s okay not to be okay.”
In the book, Rev. Dotson shares several stories of his personal struggles with depression, suicide, and, specifically, grief. The author shared an anecdote with the AFRO about one of the lowest points in his life, the year 2012. Tragedy struck back to back in the passing of his grandmother, his mother, and his close friend in a short span of nine months. The pastor recalls having difficulty navigating through his grief, especially as the holiday season approached. Prayerfully, Rev. Dotson was able to overcome his debilitating grief through self love and self care. The book includes spiritual practices geared toward self care and spiritual discipline to let readers know that “there is hope beyond your grief, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Rev. Dotson also writes about having an activity that helps you to stay balanced. The Rev. was not a musician, but he admits that listening to music has always helped him stay calm and grounded, which is what inspired him to learn to play piano. As it turns out, this skill was a hidden talent for the Pastor. “When I’m stressed or in the midst of a long meeting, I’ll walk out and find a piano and that will calm me down,” he adds.
In addition to the Soul Reset series, Rev. Dotson expresses powerful and helpful spiritual nuggets in his 90-second daily radio series called “See All The People.” The show, which is featured on more than 40 radio stations across the country, answers the question, “What if we stopped trying to fix the church, and instead we started seeing all of the people who God has called us to reach?”
The act of seeing someone for who they are is a dialogue without words. Taking the time to get to know someone and being able to positively speak into their lives is a different level of relationship and intimacy. According to Rev. Dotson, “See All The People” is an invitation for the church to have a conversation with their neighbors of every race and creed. “It’s about building relationships that are authentic, organic, and consistent,” he stated.
The Soul Reset series is the ultimate tool for team meetings, small groups, book clubs, and other gatherings. Each chapter ends with an invitation to a spiritual practice that will act as a guide on your journey to wholeness. Rev. Dotson explains that “[This] book is dedicated to the people who did not or refused to give up on their dark days, and for the people in their lives who encouraged them.”