Where Mental Illness and Faith Collide
There are people out there right now who are crying out to God to release them from their immense anxiety.
There are people in His Word seeking strength to stand back up even though PTSD has completely rocked their world.
There are people who are watching sermons from bed. The same bed they haven’t been able to get out of for days because they are so depressed and exhausted.
There are believers who love Jesus who cannot just shake off their mental illness.
They’ve prayed about it. They’ve sought deliverance. They’ve tried to have more faith.
This place is so incredibly confusing...
The place where mental illness and faith collide.
This place often makes believers uncomfortable- those who are experiencing the mental illness and those who are trying to support those who struggling mentally.
It’s hard. Here’s why.
Mental illness is complex. I believe it has a very spiritual component to it. As well as physiological, genetic, and environmental components.
We don’t often talk about these other aspects in the church (just like science rarely talks about spiritual components).
I think believers feel that if they recognize that mental illness is bigger than just a lack of faith or something that can be prayed away, it gets scary... and it feels like it threatens their mighty God.
I could go on and on about this, but I just want to say:
Mental illness does not somehow disprove Him. It doesn’t make Him less powerful when people who know and love Him continue to struggle.
God is bigger than mental illness. Period. End of story.
When you accept that, there is more room and freedom to discuss mental illness and all its aspects.
Mental illness is as real as cancer. Yet, rarely do we shy away from talking about cancer in church.
It’s as difficult as any physical symptom (in fact, mental illness has many physical symptoms too).
The last people in the world who should be turning their head from mental illness is the church.
I get why it’s hard. I really do.
But the thing is.. we don’t have to understand it all to be loving and supportive to those who are struggling.
No one has all the answers.
As believers, we want to seek answers and find the “whys”.. but in these instances, what if our main focus was to help those struggling mentally not feel so alone?
Can you imagine if the church became the first place someone struggling ran to because they knew they would be met with open arms?
It brings tears to my eyes thinking about church and Christians being a “safe place”.
Being the place where mental illness and faith collide.
We don’t have to know it all. But we can’t keep shying away from it.
It’s real, it’s here, it’s in our churches and everywhere else.
Let’s encourage people to get the help they need, and let them know there is no shame in doing so.
Let’s look them in the eyes and tell them we hear them, and their struggles aren’t too heavy or scary for us.
We could literally save lives.
~Kelli Bachara, MA, LPCC
The Unraveling Blog