Depression, PTSD, mood disorders, etc. All of these examples are forms of mental illness that are just as destructive as a physical illness. The entire notion of mental illness is often overlooked because it’s intangible. Just like a virus or a cold, some mental illnesses occur for a short period of time. In a utopian world, when a virus or cold is treated properly, it rarely shows up again. Likewise with mental illness, it's impossible to have a depressive episode that won't show up again for a certain length of time. As human beings, we are comprised of body, soul, mind and spirit. In the same manner that our bodies get sick, so can our mind.
There are a plethora of physical ailments that can be directly traced to genetics, chemical imbalances and trauma, just like mental illness. There are traumatic things that will happen in life that will affect your mind and body. Your response to that trauma is not always an indication of a lack of faith. In other words, processing your trauma doesn't denote a lack of faith, it's actually a indication that you trust God enough to heal you. For example: a break-up, a sudden move, abuse from a loved one, the loss of a job, the diagnosis of a disease, all of these examples can traumatize an individual, even after they “leave it all at the altar”. There will be moments where you react to trauma in your flesh, but that does not mean your faith has failed you. You're human, not God.
We’ve all struggled with some form of mental health, it just might not have been an extreme case. I’ve struggled to find a place where “it’s okay to not be okay”. At the end of the day, we’re all flawed. While some of our flaws can be defined as a learned reaction to pain, it is still our responsibility to walk through the process of healing.
I’ve had my world turned upside down, and it’s left some residual effects. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith in God. I trust that God has not lied to me, I’m just disappointed in what God has allowed in this process. I know that’s a whole lot of truth, but I honestly believe that God only gets the glory in an authentic story.
We all need a safe space where we are allowed to be broken without our faith being defined by a brief moment of anxiety, worry or even depression. Contrary to popular belief, healing is not as easy as it seems, especially when you’re forced to heal around the person or thing that hurt you. Of course, you can fast and pray. But, all the glossolalia in the world won’t speed up the healing process. It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of the heart, soul, spirit and mind.
I’ve prayed for God to heal certain wounds once and for all. Some wounds, God removed completely. Other wounds are currently being operated on, and I'm perfectly fine with that.Remember Paul prayed three times for his affliction to be removed, but for some reason, God preferred him to be weak.
2 Corinthians 12: 8-10
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I’m a pretty strong person. All of my friends around me, at some point or another, have told me that I’m one of the strongest people that they know. Unfortunately, that’s not a complement to me. Many of you that are reading this can relate to this. I’ve never wanted to be strong, situations just forced me into strength. I have a decently wholesome attitude, but I am not immune to breaking down…completely.
I’m not perfect (surprise).
I’ve felt hopeless.
I’ve cried myself to sleep more times that I want to admit…this year.
I’ve hit an all-time low. I repeat L O W.
I’ve been trapped by this expectation to endure silently. Now, I’m REAL vocal about what I don’t like.
I’ve handled by own flaws legalistically, and I should have handled them with more grace.
I’ve depended on myself to get things done (I've also depended on others to get things done).
In sum, I learned to be a woman of faith that’s strong in the Lord, but I lost the beauty of being broken.
I’ve come to this conclusion that this walk is not about me defeating anxiety or being the perfect wife or being the best role model. This walk is about allowing Christ to complete the work in me. This is where he gets the glory because God does the thing in me that I could never do on my own.
There are a plethora of reasons why God will allow anxiety or other forms of mental illness to remain in your life. Here are just a few thoughts to consider:
1. Your experience with anxiety (or any other related illness) may be building your strength in God and your compassion for others around you.
2. Your struggle may be the greatest testimony to others.
3. God’s ways are just higher.
In conclusion, your business is not everyone’s business. But, you need someone that you can be completely open with. Someone that can handle the truth about what you feel. Someone that can hear what you don’t say. Sometimes, this person is bae and sometimes, it’s your best friend or a parent. Whoever it is, thank God for them.. they are a gift!
Whatever your struggle is... just know that God is for you. Trust in him.