This is going to be my soul on a page, so bear with me. It's time for a conversation.
I am twenty-one. I am a Christian. And I struggle with anxiety and depression. Mental health can be a touchy subject within the body of Christ, and in the world around us.
It's messy. It's uncomfortable. It can be hard to understand.
It requires loving the entirety of the person-beyond what we find easy to deal with.
That's the thing about Jesus' love, though. He's not afraid to love us. John Mark McMillan wrote the famous song "How He Loves" and said...
"The love I'm singing about in that song is not a pretty, clean, not a Hollywood hot pink love. It's the kind of love that is willing to love things that are messy, and willing to love even the difficult and sort of, you know, kind of gross things."
Depression and anxiety are not pretty. They are not beautiful.
They are panic attacks at 3 A.M. They are being lonely in a room full of people. They are heart palpitations and fear and gasping for air even though, logically, you can breathe just fine. They do not "just go away."
As the body of Christ, it is temping to pray it away. It is tempting to just call it an attack of the enemy and move on. It is temping to say, Oh yeah, I know what you're dealing with! Sometimes I feel worried and sad.
I know my God can heal. I know that anxiety and depression do not belong in me. I recognize that yes, absolutely, these are evil tactics from the enemy.
However, I also believe that the Father works through medicine and therapy, too. He works through meaningful conversations and friends and admitting that you need help.
You are not a bad Christian for getting professional help. You are not a bad Christian for seeking out medicine and therapy to correct the chemicals in your brain that are not producing the levels that you need to be able to function.
My God heals supernaturally, absolutely! He has also called people to serve as doctors and therapists. He has anointed people to help us get better. He has given others the strength and the knowledge to call us out of our dark places.
You are not a burden. You are not doing anything wrong by seeking out help. The Father's heart for you is not to live bound by anxiety and depression or other issues you may be facing.
It is tempting to brush off mental health as a cry for attention. It is easy to tell someone that it'll go away if they pray about it.
More often than not, it does go away for a season. Then, sometimes, it comes back. I cannot tell you the amount of times that I have felt guilty when my anxiety or depression comes in full force.
It makes me feel like I didn't pray hard enough. Like I didn't believe that He can heal me enough. Like my issues aren't big enough to be dealt with.
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Condemnation is defined as "the expression of very strong disapproval."
There is a special brand of guilt that comes along with mental health struggles. I know that the Father loves me, but the enemy has a way of making you feel like this is your fault. It is your fault that you are struggling.
Depression and anxiety are not pretty. Struggling with mental health, whatever that looks like for you, does not make you a bad Christian. I keep saying that, but I think it's so important.
There is room for you in the body of Christ. There is space for you at the table.
You are valued. You are worthy. You are loved.
Your mental health does not disqualify you from being in community. It does not disqualify you from being passionately pursued by the Father. You are enough.
As the body of Christ, we are called to love the difficult. The uncomfortable. The gross and unlovely and unknown.
May we be unafraid to have honest conversations. May we be willing to reach and comfort those in dark places, and call them into new life.
As we do these things- as we walk in life and love and acknowledge the difficult things- I pray we reach a place that the stigma and guilt associated with mental health is reduced.
Expand our hearts to love beyond comfort, Jesus. To walk with- and support each other- through the ugly things that life throws at us.
May we be lighthouses, seeking and searching and bringing others to newness of life and restored hope.
"If you feel too much, there's still a place for you here. If you feel too much, don't go. If this world is too painful, stop and rest. It's okay to stop and rest. If you need a break, it's okay to say you need a break. This life-it's not a contest, not a race, not a performance, not a thing that you win. It's okay to slow down. You are here for more than grades, more than a job, more than a promotion, more than keeping up, more than getting by. This life is not about status or opinion or appearance. You don't have to fake it. You do not have to fake it. Other people feel this way too. If your heart is broken, it's okay to say your heart is broken. If you feel stuck, it's okay to say you feel stuck. If you can't let go, it's okay to say you can't let go. You are not alone in these places. Other people feel how you feel."
-Jamie Tworkowski, If You Feel Too Much.