I’ve read a lot of articles lately on how “the church” or Christians need to stop adding to the stigma of depression, anxiety, PTSD and bipolar disorder. I happen to agree. I also happen to believe “the church” is made up of flawed humans just like you and me. And those flawed humans (myself included) ought to be forgiven because they know not what they say and do.
The other day I wrote a blog post about unintentional shame. I didn’t use those specific words, but I’ve had a lot of experience with Christians who think they are helping when they are actually harming. Here’s the thing: most just don’t understand.
So how are we supposed to respond?
That’s been my main question of God lately. He keeps reminding me of this thing called humility. I’m also reminded of Jesus’ last prayer on behalf of us humans. It was while he was on the cross, after he was beaten and tortured by those who were purposefully shaming him.
He said, “Father, F them for they know not what they do.” Okay so the F stands for FORGIVE in case you were wondering. My Jesus, the one whose power is made perfect in my weakness, forgives those who intentionally cause harm. If Jesus can choose forgiveness in the midst of THAT, then I can choose to forgive others for unintentionally shaming me.
If ever I’m struggggggling with understanding my own emotions or am needing prayer because of it, does not necessarily mean that my spiritual health is in danger. Guess who I go to on days like these? The one who has infinite GRACE for me. My Jesus. Like I said, His grace reaches FAR.
Grace is His ministry.
Depression. Anxiety. PTSD. Bipolar Disorder. All of those things are a part of Jesus’ ministry. He meets me in the midst of my own pain and anxiety and emotions I cannot explain and He will meet you in yours.
Jesus says: “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
When I stepped into ministry a little over a year ago, I decided to stop writing about my struggles because I was afraid people wouldn’t trust my leadership or that they would be concerned that I wasn’t “spiritually healthy.” But with all the discussion of mental health in the media, I feel like I MUST share, even if it is a risk. It feels like a HUGE risk.
If you’ve been harmed by Christians, I’m sorry. I sincerely understand. I was going to share some of the comments people have said to me over the years as it relates to my diagnosis, but I decided against it. Remembering the insensitive things others say will not help us to move forward with forgiveness.
Let’s chat about spiritual health instead. So what is it?
Here’s one way of explaining it: “Having compassion, the capacity for love and forgiveness, altruism, joy, and fulfillment help you enjoy your spiritual health. Your religious faith, values, beliefs, principles, and morals define your spirituality. <–<< I really like that, because I think it’s true.
When I’m in a really tough place mentally, it’s my spiritual health that saves me!
Try not to let people within “the church” define your spirituality. Remember, they are flawed too and rather than trying to muster up the strength to CHOOSE JOY because that’s what the church keeps telling you to do, I want to encourage you to CHOOSE FORGIVENESS instead.