Mental illness is often a misunderstood and stigmatized discussion. For many, admitting a need for help when there is no physical sign of trauma is immensely difficult and can lead to further suffering. As Christians, we are told to not be anxious about anything, it’s written in God’s word. We are encouraged in Philippians 4 to present our requests to God, and that his peace will guard our hearts and minds. This passage is often quoted, printed on signs, and written in cards, but isn’t the easiest to accept in the pits of despair. There are moments in life that shake us to our core, and it can be difficult to find this reassurance. How then, as Christians, can we apply what Christ teaches us to our mental wellbeing? Here are just a few suggestions to find mental health as a follower of Jesus.
Validate Mental Illness
Science does not negate Christianity and vice versa. It is entirely possible to have a brain that functions differently from others, and as a result, causes illness like anxiety disorders and depression. Think of the last time you heard that a loved one was diagnosed with a physical illness. As a Christian, what did you do?
You might have started by praying for God to perform a miracle. There are times that cancer disappears, the mass vanishes, or unexplained healing occurs; however, there are also times when it doesn’t. In these instances, you pray for the doctors; you pray that God will give your loved one strength as they battle their illness, for peace as they rest in recovery, and for the hope that this will someday pass and they’ll be stronger as a result. Why then is this not the same for mental illness? Why do we so often negate depression as a medical condition but rather quote scripture and expect the one suffering to rally instantaneously?
This is not to say that sending God’s word does not aid in healing, it’s often what brings comfort and assurance, but it doesn’t start and end there. The first step in healing is validation and recognition that there is a medical illness occurring in the mind that needs physical and spiritual healing.
God Made Therapists
All Christians are born with spiritual gifts. These gifts are not something we choose or can change of our own will, but innate strengths in who we are. There are those whose gifts are discernment, mercy, wisdom, and help. These gifts are often found in therapists and counselors. The Bible says “lean not on your own understanding.” We don’t always know what’s best, we can’t have all of the answers, and in these moments it’s important to find help.
Therapists, like those found on WithTherapy, understand that no two people are the same. Professional, licensed therapists, are able to use their gifts of discernment and mercy to see your unique needs and struggles and find tangible tools to cope.
God does not look down on us for mental illness and struggles. Jesus did not call the flawless, the perfect decision-makers, or even the most liked to follow him. He knew that it was those who had struggled, made mistakes, and needed direction that could appeal to others empathetically, and become the hands and feet long after he was gone.
The next time you’re struggling with your mental health, get out your Common English Bible, find a scripture that speaks to you and bring it to discuss with your therapist. When we accept that Christianity and mental health are not combatants, we can find tangible solutions with Christ-like faith.