Tag Archives: Christian life

mental health

Mental Health and Christian Life

 *Full disclosure – I wrote this post MONTHS ago. I just looked to see if I could find the exact date, but I do not see it without clicking out of this screen. I think it was last semester while I was doing research for a couple of papers that I wrote on similar topics. It is a topic I have been wrestling with for a long time and am very passionate about so I’ve come back to this draft. 

I have been thinking a lot about mental health again lately. I know that is not uncommon for me. I’ve written about mental health many times. It affects so many people I love and these days we all know someone who struggles with some aspect of severe mental health whether we know about it or not.

Not too long ago I was talking to someone who mentioned how difficult it is to fake it sometimes. That pretending that you are “feeling normal” is easy over short periods of time, but if someone comes to stay with you, and you are around them for longer periods of time it becomes a lot harder to hide that you are struggling. This makes them dread long visits.

This has been prickling my mind ever since.

Why do we feel the need to pretend we feel well when we do not?

When I have a migraine and someone asks how I am feeling I don’t even consider hiding how I truly feel. I don’t see it as a sign of weakness, I don’t worry that they will think any less of me for having a headache. In fact, this past Sunday just after we finished worship practice I got the aura that signals the beginning of a migraine and right away I mentioned it to a couple team-mates. One person offered me ibuprofen and the other laid hands on me and prayed. I made it through the music at the beginning of the service and then had to go find a dark room and lay on the floor until Caleb could drive me home. I felt a little bit weird laying on the floor in the church but I wasn’t ashamed or worried that I needed to hide what was happening.

When I am feeling anxious or down or am just having a bad day, however, there is a voice that whispers “People will think you have no faith if you let them see this side of you.” “You aren’t trusting God.” “You must not be relying on his strength.” All the “helpful” Christianisms that have done so much damage to so many people.

It is so not true!

When someone shares their struggles with depression or anxiety it fills me with love for them. It shows me that they are more like me than I thought. It breaks down the lie that I am the only one who struggles. I am fully convinced that one of Satan’s greatest tool against believers is the story that others will turn away and abandon us if they knew the truth about what we struggle with. 

I don’t know about you, but I am FAR from perfect and I don’t really love being around perfect people. I cannot relate to perfect people. I like other flawed people. A person who has never struggled cannot teach me anything about trusting God through times of anxiety. You know who can? The person who has battled anxiety for 20 something years and continues to fight it.

A person who has never struggled cannot walk with me through depression because they cannot even fathom what it is like, but someone who has felt those same hopeless feelings can. These are the people who show me that I can make it through whatever I am struggling with. These are the people who encourage me to persevere.

When someone shares their struggles it opens up a chance for me to bear some of that burden with them through prayer. It allows me to be more intentional about asking questions and really listening. It endears them to me in a way that nothing else can. It draws us together as brothers and sisters in Christ because family walks through that hard stuff together. When that happens God is glorified.

It isn’t an easy thing that I am asking, I realize that. I am asking that we admit something really scary. I am asking that we try to be open about our fears even when we know they are irrational. I am asking that we share our feeling of hopelessness. If we never do these things it is very difficult to bear one another’s burdens.

Would you consider trying it? Would you also consider how best to respond if someone was this open when you ask the question “how are you”? Let’s do our best to break the stigma that is still so strong and rob Satan of a little more power.

signed

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When Plans Change ~ Wednesday in the Word

It seems like plans always change, even great plans seem to often not pan out the way we want them to. I’ve been thinking a lot about when plans to serve the Lord fall through.

I don’t think I can even count anymore how many people I know who have gone through missionary training, so excited to bring the gospel to unreached people around the world only to have something happen to stop their plans. Finances, health, a family death, so many things that are out of their control. The Lord says “No, I have something else for you” or maybe “Not yet”.

This can be devastating, for some even faith shaking.

If our plans are godly and especially if we have prayed about them, felt lead by the Lord to take those steps (sold homes, changed jobs, moved, gone through extra schooling, etc.) and had godly counsel saying yes before we start (or even started a ministry) only to have things come up that force us to stop. Why would God allow these things to happen?

If God does not want anyone to perish and tells us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” why are so many people willing to go to the mission field and trying to go but God tells them no?

I think it comes down to a few things:

~God is in control (of our finances, our jobs, our lives) He “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10), he “knows the plans he has for us” (Jeremiah 29:11)

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~I think sometimes we also need to be reminded that God doesn’t NEED to us. Even to reach the lost he doesn’t need us. He could reach the lost any way he wanted even creation shows him. “For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So that they are without excuse. For although they knew him as God, they did not honor him as God….” (Romans 1:20-21a) We should count it a huge privilege that he chooses to use us.

~Ultimately God’s greatest desire for you is to see you become more like him, to see you sanctified. For some of us that means that he will start on a path then stop us maybe many times. Trust me, I know how hard that can be to live through and to watch others go through.

~ Our time pursuing God’s plans is never wasted. God is in control, God knew his plans for us while we were still in our mother’s womb. He knew exactly what he has for us and is not going to lead us astray.

In the Christian life, often times the journey is as important as the destination. There are things that God teaches us in situations that we may think of as setbacks that will be vitally important later.

I read (or heard) somewhere recently again that if we knew what God knows, if we could see the whole picture the way he does we wouldn’t have problems trusting him. If only that was easier…. 😉

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