Salt of the Earth
A friend of mine who is a chef once explained that salt is the only seasoning that makes a food taste more like itself.
All other seasonings and spices add in a new flavor, but salt brings out a food’s inherent essence. So a potato tastes more like a potato, chicken tastes more like chicken, etc.
In one of the Bible readings Chris and I have been studying this week, Jesus says this: “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” (Matthew 5:13)
I think the work of Braid mentor teams is basically to serve as a giant salt shaker, helping the youth we serve become their best and most authentic selves.
We are not a big dash of cayenne pepper or cumin, here to impose our own unique flavor on a young person. We are here to help them discover theirs.
But the question Jesus poses is what happens if the salt itself has lost its taste. How can its saltiness be restored?
I have read these words this week as yet another reminder of the importance of self-care.
I recently diagnosed myself with a moderate-to-severe case of compassion fatigue, in relation to a friend who had been demanding a lot of my emotional energy. I realized I would be no good to my friend – or anyone around me – if I didn’t allow myself to be restored.
For me, this has looked like setting some better boundaries around communication, staying committed to sessions with my therapist, starting to do yoga at home every day, and buying a new pair of hiking shoes. Those are things that help me feel like myself, so I can help others do the same.
Turnover rates in the foster care world are high. We know that social workers at most of our partner agencies turn over at 35% a year or higher. We know that foster parents who burn out rarely get back into the ring.
When working with youth who have so many cards stacked against them, it is vitally important to commit to practices and relationships that help us remember our own unique flavor, that help us feel restored, that help us be the salt of the earth.
This is why we place the work of Braid mentoring within the context of a team and a larger community, so that when one of us has lost our zest, we are surrounded by teammates and friends who can remind us of it. If you are ever feeling burned out in this work, please know that you do not have to look far to find someone who can help you find restoration.