Comedy as Medicine—and Ministry

Post a Comment » Written on September 24th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (September 24, 2009) – Rachel Mohn’s physical and emotional breakdown that included “full-blown panic attacks” was not funny at the time, but she has transformed the experience into a comedy ministry that she hopes will help break the stigma of mental illness and help all women find healing.

Rachel Mohn

Comedy, she says, is the best medicine. “It has no co-pay,” she quips.

Although her one-woman show is humorous, it carries a serious message. She hopes to encourage all women that it is perfectly natural to be imperfect.

The name of Mohn’s ministry, Panicdotes, reflects her sense of humor, combining the words “panic” and “anecdotes.” The former, she explains, in dictionary style, is “a sudden, overwhelming fear, with or without cause,” while the latter is, “a short account of an interesting or humorous incident.”

Mohn, who attends Ravenswood Covenant Church in Chicago, describes her 90-minute show as a “hipyoungmamacomeddrama.” It’s part comedy, part drama, part therapy, and part reality show.

During the performance, Mohn plays different characters and tells stories in a fashion akin to Covenant comedian Bob Stromberg. A stay-at-home mother of three young children, Mohn tells one anecdote about the time she was driving her kids through their suburban neighborhood. As they were passing multiple buildings with playground equipment outside, her daughter suggested that her mother consider getting a job.

When Mohn asked why, her daughter shouted with great enthusiasm, “Because then we can go to daycare!”

Mohn is passionate about sharing the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Mohn refers to herself as an “alumnus” of the Meier Clinic in Wheaton, Illinois. Her breakdown, she says, was “due to her Type-A lifestyle, several years of wrestling with God, and trying to deal with tragedies in the lives of people close to her.

And then there was the pretending she had her life together, which Mohn thought she had to do because she lived the “fishbowl” life of a pastor’s wife.

Her husband, Jason, is a student at North Park Theological Seminary. Prior to starting his studies in Chicago, Jason was the worship pastor at First Covenant Church in Salina, Kansas, and had served as the creative arts director at Paradise Valley Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona, when the couple was in college.

Mohn isn’t pretending any more.

In addition to performing the show, she also includes it as part of a weekend retreat or one-day workshop. The retreat includes breakout sessions offering a biblical study of brokenness, and discussions of topics such as stress management, assertive communication, and self-care.

The daylong workshop interweaves personal reflection, group activities, and breakout sessions that include “The Busy Woman’s Guide to Going Off the Deep End” and “Just Because I Dropped My Kids Off at School on a Saturday Means You Think There’s Something Wrong With Me?”

Mohn is next scheduled to perform at the “Behind the Mask” fundraiser for FOCUS Ministries, which offers counseling and other help for women and families suffering from domestic violence, separation, and divorce. The event is slated for October 17 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Diplomat West hotel in Elmhurst, Illinois. Other speakers include Leslie Vernick, nationally known counselor, speaker, and author of The Emotionally Destructive Relationship; and Anita Lustrea, host of Midday Connection on WMBI radio.

For more information on the event, visit the FOCUS website.

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