Statistically, I'm going to offend 1 in every 3 people who read this.*
"There's something wrong with me. This isn't normal, right? I guess I just need to pray more or have more faith. I don't know. Maybe I'm just broken. I'm sorry to bother you with this. I probably sound so stupid."
Those are, loosely, the words I recall a young lady saying to me over the phone. I could hear it in her voice. She didn't actually believe the words that were coming out of her mouth. She was buying into a lie.
Does that sound familiar? Maybe you've said something similar or maybe your best friend, sibling, classmate, or even your own parent. Either way, I want you to hear the same message I shared with her because it is meant for you, too.
You can still be a Christian and battle psychological imbalances.
Did you hear me? Like, really HEAR me?
THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU! The GOD inside of you is GOOD and He is MOVING!
Recently, I've stopped counting the number of women who have approached me regarding the topic of depression. Perhaps it comes as no shock that many of these women are hiding their depression. After all, a good Christian woman shouldn't battle with depression/anxiety/crippling fear/self loathing/etc. And, if she does, "well... perhaps her faith isn't strong enough?" As if being a Christian somehow keeps depression away like OFF! to mosquitos.
N E W S F L A S H : IT DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT.
There's a lady I spoke with who had such intense anxiety even talking about her anxiety, gave her anxiety. I looked at her and said, "I want you to know you can still be a Christian, love and pursue Jesus with all your heart and still see a Physiatrist." Her eyes welled up and the waterworks began. She was experiencing true freedom for the first time in over two and a half decades. Her parents were strong believers in Jesus and raised their children to intimately know and love Jesus, as well. However, they didn't believe there was any need for counseling, much less an interest in having her see Psychiatrist or Psychologist.
Another person I know was told, "just keep running". Cool, thanks for the advice... WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN??
If you're reading this and can relate to any of these people I want you to hear something: The God in you is the same God in me, and the same God in people all over this world. God's love, and Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, does not diminish based on serotonin levels.
Where did we go wrong? When did it become acceptable to tell someone with Cancer it's okay to seek medical treatment but many people pause before telling the same to someone with a mental, chemical, imbalance? Are they not suffering from an uncontrollable disease as well?
* * *
When I was 15, I recall one of the worst nights of my life. My parents were trying to talk to me about going to see a doctor to address my depression. They'd seen the decline happen before their eyes and didn't know what else to do. Their desperate attempts to talk to their daughter turned into a screaming match in which I locked myself in the pantry, refusing to come out and speak with them.
Since childhood I was easily angered and prone to self-isolation. That night rocked my world and changed my life. After I'd screamed and cried out to my parents for them to leave me alone, my body reached complete exhaustion and I loosed my grip on the pantry door and fell into my mom's arms. I was tired. Tired of fighting a battle within that I could never seem to win. Tired of fighting a Goliath I couldn't see. Tired of feeling different.
After leaving the pantry and falling into my mom's arms, she held me close, brushed the hair out of my face and said, "Baby girl, I don't understand this either. But here's what I do know. We can't see the cancer in Grammy just like we can't see the chemical imbalance inside of you. Wouldn't you be mad at Grammy if she didn't see the doctors and get the treatment she needed to get better?"
Those simple words have stuck with me ever since that night. At that time in life, my Grammy had been diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma and none of us could wrap our minds around why this would happen to such an amazing woman.
When I look back on all the deepest valleys of depression I'm comforted knowing that even God's son Job experienced many of the same emotions that you and I experience today. It's no coincidence there's an entire book of the Bible devoted to the story of Job and the trials he endured.
And, while I wish I could explain to you why some of us have to endure mental illness, and physical, I can offer you simply this:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5
You were uniquely created, formed, and fashioned to the likeness of the creator of the universe. He knew during your creation process who you would be, what you would endure and who He would continue molding you to be. He isn't done with you yet!
If you're experiencing any form of depression and anxiety I want you to know it's okay. You aren't alone and you are still loved by your heavenly Father.
* 80% of statistics are made up.
"This is God's work. We rub our eyes - we can hardly believe it! This is the very day God acted - let's celebrate and be festive! Salvation now, God. Salvation now! Oh yes, God - a free and full life!" Psalm 118:24 MSG
- How does it feel to know you aren't alone? That someone like you is in the Bible and that God is still using their story to impact lives today?
- What might God be teaching you through your season(s) of depression?
- How is He encouraging you?
- How is He challenging you?