In today’s world, it is not uncommon for feelings to rule. If I look back on my life, it has been this way for a long time. I cannot say it was always this way. Generations before me experienced feelings in situations, dealing with them, then letting them go. Life went on, and hurt or not; people did not hold their own life captive to roll around in their feelings. However, that is what we see today.
At some point, we shed the tough skin, and coping skills changed. I used to believe they disappeared altogether. I was wrong. Coping skills evolved. People began using masks to cover their feelings rather than manage and move on.
We have witnessed suicide rates increase in the younger generations, substance use disorders beginning in early teens, and adults unable to live productive, sustaining lives due to growing up with coping issues.
When these problems exist in the Christian community, I have to stop and ask, “Why?”
Many Christians, unknowingly, join nonbelievers in thinking we are our own God and can heal all things. Mental illness at any level is a problem within the brain and imbalance on different levels. When we battle our minds, we use medication, counseling, therapy, and several techniques. It demands constant attention and becomes overwhelming.
When our fight wears thin, and we are tired, we begin to feel defeat. For the world outside of Christ, there is no relief, no hope, no eternal peace. Either they live alone, or they die alone. Our loved ones fulfill us, our friendships help us, even an acquaintance can lift us, but each can fail us. Once it happens, it is hard to return to complete trust.
Jesus changed that. The life, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ buried the concept of relationship failure. He carried the burden of sin, washed by His pure blood, and died for us to live. In a relationship with Christ, we are free, and that concept does not exist outside of that relationship.
What does free mean? Freedom in Christ reflects universal and personal hope. By the love of a Savior, we are free from the death of sin and the ultimate resting place in hell. Individually, a relationship with Christ is the promise of His presence in our lives until our death. The Holy Spirit takes up residence inside every believer and makes this life journey with us. Holy Comforter, Holy Counselor..the gift of our internal helper.
I went through months of depression, mostly due to disappointment and failures around me. The further I went down that well-known fall, the more I lost sight of my truth- even in the darkest of my days, Jesus is with me. Unlike the world that tumbles alone, we fall together. When everyone around me scatters, He presses into me. As I isolate, He refuses to leave. Jesus Christ is the constant in a world of inconsistent relationships. At the point people let us go, He never does.
The challenge is to stay connected to Christ.
He never moves, leaves, or abandons us. It is our worldly self that pushes him away. Depression is one mental illness that attempts to keep us down; this non-breathing thing fills our thoughts with hopelessness. To be in Christ means we have hope. The two collide, and it takes unimaginable strength to stay the course with our Savior.
My bipolar pulls imaginary doors closed and fills me with fictional realities. It attempts to convince me I am my own God-invincible, defiant, self-reliant, and in control. Others witness this devastating plunge, but I only see a victorious march of self. It baffles me to experience the consequences, and no one could have stopped the train of disaster.
How do we stay connected to Jesus in our mental illness?
It must be our will to live life, all of life, with this relationship being the ultimate cornerstone of our lives. When depression comes, our feelings must stay alive for Christ. If we allow our emotions to drift away, then we will lose sight. When we let mania’s highs be higher than our love of Jesus, we float into self, and alone, we can do nothing.
The fight in mental illness looks very different for believers than that of unbelievers. The world is covered in shadows, but we see a truth that doesn’t exist otherwise in His light. In a battle against darkness, our disciplines lie in prayer, reading the Word, and training our broken minds to accept healing in the truth of God.
In those desperate times, as we seek solitude, we should seek His face. As we push every living person out, we should hold tight to the hand of Jesus. When we want to medicate our mind to silence, let us silently listen to the love pouring out through the Holy Spirit. Let go of this world all you want, but never lose sight or the grasp of the Almighty.
I hate to feel much in this world these days. I’d instead turn it all off. The pain and sadness overwhelm. Feelings don’t have to break us; they merely remind us. In this world, we will have trouble, but take a deep breath and exhale. Jesus Christ has overcome the world.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”NIV