WHO AM I?
This mental battle plagues my inner and outer world so much that I struggle with this question. I wrestle, but I will only let you see me as "normal."
If I have problems, I'm seen as the "one" with "issues." If I have "issues," then I'm the one who is "broken." If I am "broken," then I'm sent to the doctor and labeled with a mental sickness and given pills to make me better. BUT I wish it was an antibiotic to kill this "sickness" ... unfortunately it doesn't work that way. I'm stuck with this "illness," and all it's "issues," with no cure.
All my labels stack up, "problems, issues, broken, mental illness." These labels seem like military dog tags hanging around my neck or price tags of how much I'm worth leaving me vulnerable to be preyed upon by the bully or even the criminal. Who am I?
Does God really care about my depression and anxiety?
The spiritual stigma tells me my faith is weak because I can't keep up with everyone joyfully experience God. I can't keep up with the scripture reading or even the verses I am supposed to be meditating on. I can't go on the mission trip, I can't make it to small group ... because it's so stressful to try be a "normal Christian." I'm not trying to be disobedient, I just can't calm this anxiety against what I'm forcing myself to believe. Then, I'm afraid of God because I can't do my part of the relationship ... "I'm not enough." I try to talk to some of my friends, but after months, it seems like their patience runs thin, or the understanding runs-out and I'm told that somehow my pain is a spiritual issue. They suggest I need to experience more freedom and one more breakthrough. I feel alone in my suffering and waiting for God. Despite all this, my depression and anxiety remains, but I still love God and my friends, but my frustrating pain is turned into, "Am I ever enough?" And now I'm afraid of God ... is this how it should be with a loving God?
I see the mental health campaigns, the brochures, and hear I'm not alone ... but why do I feel like I'm the project, the cause for the healthy, and I still sit alone? WHO AM I?
'Who am I?' Does God really care? This is really more knowing the character and truth of the One says to us, "I AM and I dwell with you."
God sees the pain and draws close to us ... He is not intimidated by our human condition and all its frailties. HE sees no labels, nor does He use them to punish us for something we did wrong, nor does he use them to cause us to be more holy, righteous, or good! How does He see us?
He is an infinite God who identifies Himself in the finite brokenness of human beings. Even in the affliction of the finite, He still calls them His dwelling place ... to transform them into their most complete form of life ... because He is a "wholemaker!"
"For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, "I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."
He equates His own glorious dwelling, His very presence, with the lowly and contrite. His glorious nature is not distracted from the broken, in fact He is drawn to the weak, broken, beaten and down trodden, those weighed down with a deplorable burden of unworthiness, guilt, shame, and those who are distraught from the unrelenting afflictions. He dwells with those who have lost hope! If this is a law within His Kingdom, then this is the law of His comfort, His law of redeeming love! If we were to explore and imagine what the Great I AM would proclaim ... He might say ...
"You are where I AM and where you will find Me! This is where I AM, not to mechanically fix you, but to love abundantly, renewing and releasing you from every chain, heavy weight, removing the painful yokes and the countless burdens the afflictions have caused! I will renew you from all the past hurts, pains, and all your mistakes ... and the trials committed against you. I have wept for you and I AM with you now!
"The world labels your condition, but I give you every bit of My worth ... I HAVE proclaimed new titles of favor and glory for you ... to Me You are Holy, Beloved, Pure, Delightful, Beautiful, and My absolute Joy and you are my dream come true! I AM with you, I AM singing to you, I AM cheering for you, I AM interceding for you. When others look at you ... they will see Me. If they love you, they love Me! You are mine ... And I am yours!
"This is how My Kingdom works and I AM fully taking delight in giving it to you. Yes, you have always been part of my plan and my full inheritance! In this Kingdom there are no labels ... instead just a gigantic banner of love over you."
I can imagine Him saying this ... can you? We can find lots of scriptures to back this up and this is the message we need to share with those who are experiencing mental health difficulties and disorders.
So what's the heart of this message?
We are not telling people to "Trust God and He will come through for you (breakthrough)." Saying "trust" they have to do something to get better. However, we know it doesn't matter how many times you tell someone with depression, anxiety or other psychological distress to, "Trust God because because He loves you," they can't experience it, therefore it causes more inaction out of doubt ... it just doesn't all magically go away. It's not a "Trust" formula.
The message is, "You're safe." It's okay you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other challenge. You don't have to do something for God to get better. When we say "trust," we are encouraging "rest." Your condition doesn't make Him love you any less or that He would distance Himself from you ... rather, despite what you can't feel or see (pain), you can simply "rest" (trust) with knowing you are safe and always enough in Him.
The Faith & Science Reasoning
Why is this message important? Because according to various research, when people with a mental health diagnosis have a positive association and secure attachment with God (faith), their recovery is better and faster than those who do not value faith. There are physiological changes, they grow with resilient management, and less likely to harm themselves.
Who am I? It's not what culture, stigma, or what other people say ... or how they label you. Sure, God knows the "diagnosis" and this is not to say we should forgo mental health recovery care and treatment, including professionals. It is understanding the holistic (whole-health) view of recovery and trusting (resting) in who He is every step of the journey.
Today ... "I am enough!" ... because that's how He looks at you and me. He strengthens us to be who we are ... even if we worship with a limp!
Let us hear from you ... comment here or on our social media platforms ...
What helps you discover God's comfort when it is painful?
How have you seen the benefits from your faith ... even despite the severity of your mental health condition?
As family member, spouse, friend, or church leader, what helps you receive your comfort about your loved-one ... and how you encourage your loved-ones?
Co-Founder / CEO The Grace Alliance