“I find it hard to confess that I was emotionally wounded. Because you might question my faith.”
When I read this sentence, I felt a deep hurt. For years I have tried not to speak about the loneliness, numbness and detachment I feel. I am a Christian. I love Jesus. I have seen God work in my life; answer prayers, heal, open doors. I am extraordinarily blessed. I know this.
But it doesn’t change how I feel. How life causes me to feel. But I often fear that if I speak my complete inner truth to anyone but God, people will not understand.
I have prayed to be released. I relate to Paul when he said,
I asked the Lord three times to take it away from me. 2 Corinthians 12:8
But God has not chosen to heal me.
So I have to cling to the rest of the passage:
“I am all you need. I give you My loving-favor. My power works best in weak people.” 2 Corinthians 2:9
I often believed there was something wrong with me. If I prayed more, trusted more, believed more, I could get past this. But I can’t.
Part of this may be my personality type. I am an INFJ and enneagram 5. This means I am more introverted than extroverted. I am depleted by people instead of energized. I need to be alone. I actually really like to be alone. I need to study and investigate. These studies and investigations help me make sense of the world around me and help me feel at ease.
But all of these things also cause me to seem stand-offish and maybe even stuck up. I am terrible with small talk, so group activities are so difficult. This increases my isolation.
God is teaching me to understand how He made me and to honor that. Instead of comparing myself to someone who is completely different than me. When I do that, I will always feel lacking. We are often naturally attracted to what we wish we were.
But God is telling me, you are enough. You are exactly as I made you. And the more I lean in to Him, I believe He will show me how I can use how He made me to make Him known.
Part of this is sharing with you, who I am. Sharing the truth of my struggles, because I believe there are many women just like me; walking around believing they aren’t enough because they aren’t like the woman next to them. They aren’t enough because they have anxiety and/or depression.
I am here to tell you, YOU are ENOUGH. God made each of us different. You are the best you there ever was and will ever be. We, as the church, need to support this in each other.
I want to share with you the rest of Bonnie Gray’s article:
It’s up to us, the regular, everyday people in the trenches of real life to speak the truth and tell our stories about the work God’s doing in our lives and what He’s saying to us through the Scriptures. Because the truth is, you and I are the Church.
In that spirit, here are the top five myths and truths I’ve uncovered in my books about my journey to find rest, practice soul care and experience the peace and joy that comes from healing.
5 Myths and Truths about Mental Health and Spiritual Fitness
Myth: Jesus commanded us, “Do not worry.” If you worry, you are sinning.
Truth: Jesus was encouraging us. There is no need to worry about money.
In Matthew 6:25, Jesus was not issuing a command that makes worry an act of sin when he said, “Therefore, do not worry.” Jesus was giving us the reason why “You cannot serve God and money” in the previous verse. He was giving us encouragement not to worry about money because God will provide for us, like the birds of the air and flowers in the field.
So, be at peace. God understands why you worry. He loves you. He is the God of comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Myth: Trust God and you’ll have peace and joy. If you don’t have peace or joy, then you’re not trusting God enough.
Truth: Emotional honesty is an intimate act of trusting God with your real self, instead of hiding how you feel or trying to do or be more.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28
Notice Jesus doesn’t say, “Come to me strong, cheerful, calm and untroubled.”
It’s the opposite. We’re invited to come to him weary—whether confused, numb, anxious, angry or stressed. Jesus tells us to simply come, as we are. Imperfectly His.
Myth: If you read God’s word more, pray more, praise more, give thanks more, rejoice more, etc.—you will have peace that surpasses all understanding.
Truth: Faith is not emotional amnesia. Faith gives us courage to face the brokenness of life and heal from the losses we’ve suffered.
Jesus Himself obeyed, prayed, praised and gave thanks perfectly. Yet He suffered emotional trauma, overwhelmed by impending physical and emotional abuse, abandonment and betrayal: “My soul is deeply troubled, overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Going a little farther, He fell to the ground …” – Mark 14:34, 35
When the apostle Paul encourages us not to be anxious, but to pray, give thanks and present our requests (Philippians 4:5, 6), he was encouraging us to experience the peace of taking our problems to God, rather than finding peace in our ability to solve them with our own understanding. This wasn’t meant to indict us for experiencing anxiety.
Myth: The Bible says forget the past and focus on what’s ahead.
Truth: God remembers the moments that break us. We go back to heal our past with Jesus, to experience His love intimately and recover all parts of our hearts with Him.
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” – Psalm 56:8
When the Apostle Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” he wasn’t talking about erasing his past. Read Philippians 3. You’ll discover he was referring to forgetting his old way of life as a Pharisee, focusing his worth on how things appeared and spiritual performance. Paul was focused on knowing Jesus intimately and sharing in “His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death.”
Myth: You don’t need a therapist. You just need Jesus and God’s Word.
Truth: If you look at most instances of healing in Scripture, someone had to step out in faith and take action to go somewhere, see someone or ask for something.
If you’ve been hurt, you deserve to take care of yourself now that you’re safe to heal with Jesus. God’s words will give you strength to heal and investigate your emotional wounds. Just like God uses skilled doctors to help us heal from physical wounds, God uses psychologists to help us heal our nervous system and process memories that once wounded you, so that you’re free to sleep, rest and access all parts of your heart and your story.
You story is worth remembering. You are worth valuing.
Be curious. Let God love you. Take the intimate journey of healing.
You’ll be amazed by the beauty and be transformed by it.
Excerpt from “Having Mental Health Issues Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad Christian” by Bonnie Gray Relevant magazine, Aug 30, 2017 https://relevantmagazine.com/article/having-mental-health-issues-doesnt-mean-youre-a-bad-christian/
It is important to share who you are. This helps people understand you and also to know how to love you.
I am praying for us ladies. I pray we rise up together and become stronger than we ever believed was possible. I pray that we turn from the model we have learned from the world on how to support each other and forge a new way. I pray we are dedicated to lifting each of our sisters up, because our God is the God of Abundance.
Teresa Neal is a Christ follower, wife, and mother. Her passion is to see women grow in their relationship with Jesus and understand how great His love is for them. She is attends LCBC Church in Waynesboro and leads a women’s life group. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.