Christian Living, Christian Mental Health

Faith Doesn’t Exempt Us: Mental Illness in Christian Life

I’m in a slow season, awaiting a transition from one home to another. Boredom is good for the soul and helps creativity flow in young minds. Boredom is not good for a mind that’s entangled in chronic mental illness. Guilt seeps into the binge-watching and couch surfing. Pain plagues the shoulders of the daydreaming and squirrel-watching. Frustration hurts the eyes of the lost journaler and occasional beach-comber.

To just sit in the quiet is just so loud in the arena of a depressed soul. This season which I thought would be a refresher, is holding all of us captive to the inner workings of excuses and frozen feet. And when I think I can let go, admit my troubles, and seek out someone to empathize with, the ignorance of the church shines bright. The nature of the prominent amongst the pedestal sitting preachers encourages darts of ignorant hurt to be thrown at those who are already a little dimmer.

“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” ― C.S. Lewis

You don’t have enough faith. Depression is a punishment. Trauma is just grief. You can cure disorders. Medication alters who you are, it makes you someone else. If you can’t see it, then it’s not real. Mr. Preacher and his sheep throwing darts at people like me only make us want to fight or hide further.

“Especially judge not the sons and daughters of sorrow. Allow no ungenerous suspicions of the afflicted, the poor, and the despondent.

Do not hastily say they ought to be more brave, and exhibit a greater faith. Ask not ‘why are they so nervous and so absurdly fearful?’ No… I beseech you, remember that you understand not your fellow man.” – Charles Spurgeon

Anger rides on my shoulders when I see these things play out. I want to fight, but I am told by Christian books, commentary, and speakers that anger is pride exploding out, and unless what I am angry at also hurts God, it is a sin. So what must I do, bottle it up further, my head hurts more, and I trust even less?

“I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.” ― C. S. Lewis

I have chronic depression and have functioned well enough for most of my life. I have spun downwards a few times, and a few dreadful things I push way down. I have gone through several major depressive episodes, all of which I have hidden because of stigma and popular mental illness, the kind that doesn’t exist. I have come out on the other end.

My current episode, although under control, has been ongoing for over a year. It crept in while fighting a different battle and took me down to the deepest dark of my life.

What did I do with this darkness? I hid it. Churchy people in the past placed distrust in me. Preachers talk down to the thousands about how I am a fake, or maybe not even a believer, am weak.

I think about those in the church who use mental illness to their advantage, and it makes me crawl inside myself even more. They get sympathy while no one sees me. Maybe these are some reasons I am still stuck.

I recently read about why some depressed people enjoy their sadness, their pain, and their tears over therapy or medication. The sadness is familiar. I say it’s like a blanket and it knows you. You can wrap yourself in it and not have to make excuses to the world when you seek comfort hidden away from it. Sadness doesn’t let you down.

These preachers and sheep, the commentators and teachers are not going to drive me out of my faith. Maybe it’s pride that drives them instead and humility that keeps me from burdening others with my woes. But in saying all of this, God is the final judge and will correct the wrong done by the church.

“Hope is not defined by the absence of hardship. Rather, hope is found in God’s grace in the midst of hardship. Hope is found in his promise to give us a future.” -Stuart Scott

We all need to do better. We all need to not be fake or hide. We all need to accept the reality of pain. Faith is just an element in the healing process. God knows better than anyone else. He is the Healer of our souls. The Lord loves us so very much and doesn’t want His children living on a dark path nor does He want others to stomp them down with dismissive thoughts. Let’s do better.

1 thought on “Faith Doesn’t Exempt Us: Mental Illness in Christian Life

  1. Thank you for speaking into this! The struggle is so very real for so many. And yet, God is with us as we walk this out.

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