You can have a mental illness and still love Jesus
You can still love Jesus and work through your anxiety. You can still love Jesus and take an antidepressant. You can still love Jesus and seek counseling. You can still love Jesus and have a mental illness.
You see, for the longest time, I believed this lie.
And this lie? It totally and completely ate away at me. Because, it made me feel like an absolute failure. Completely, totally hurt me to my core.
Made me feel embarrassed. Unworthy. Unfaithful. Unfit.
You see, my faith has been something near-and-dear to my heart since early childhood. Taking a hold of me in a way that I am not sure others around me felt. But right alongside this growing faith, simultaneously grew my lifelong battle with anxiety. First making its appearance still as a toddler upon the passing of my little brother. And hanging around ever since. Even more so after our oldest daughter was born. Hanging on helplessly to those same fears I saw unfold in reality before my eyes as a young child, with my own baby girl.
But as someone with strong faith, this lie began to contradict all that I thought I knew and felt in my heart. Sometimes, through small whispers. And other times, by way of shouts that just could not be ignored. For the longest time, it hung over my head like a dark cloud, making it clear that you could not be filled with worry and anxiety and still believe in God. That anxiety and depression are only for those with weak faith. That to be a child of God, worry can have no place in your life.
What a crushing mis-belief to carry around in one's heart. Soul. And mind. And it may have taken me over 30 years, and a lot of time digging through His Word, but I finally discovered this untruth could not be more than just that. A falsehood. A façade. A fraud.
Because my faith?
There were times in my life that those private conversations with God were literally the only things that kept me going. When I felt so down and low, truly believing that in no way could anyone on Earth understand. Those prayers became my lifeline. For hope. For help. For healing.
If I have learned anything from this lifelong battle and entanglement, it's this: don't let anyone (or any establishment) tell you that faith cannot coexist with fear, anxiety and depression. Because my anxiety? Only made my faith one million percent stronger.
And don't ever, ever for once let go of these undeniable truths:
You can still hold a pill in the hands with which you pray. You can still love the One Who created you, with a heart that races. You can still walk into church on legs that shake. You can still whisper His name with the same breath that escapes your catching it in those moments of panic.
And always, always remember, you can still find beautiful, solid truth, in a world filled with lies. That some of the deepest roots of our faith are born through our most intimate moments of fear. Only strengthening our beliefs in a way that we never could before.
You can still love Jesus and be a work-in-progress. Because, in our own ways, we all are. Clay in our Potter's delicate hands. Molding us carefully through each experience to fulfill our purpose in Him.
"Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)