It's Okay To Be Not Okay
As we discuss depression, fear, and anxiety in the sermon series "This Is Me" at Faith Church, I have invited Faith Church staff member Vinnie Adams to write a blog post on the topic, as I have learned a lot in this area from him over the past few years - Pastor Brian
It was autumn of 2011, and the effects of anxiety and depression were closing in on me like they never had before. Joylessness. Crippling worry. Despair. Darkness. As God would have it, I was asked to sing for a wedding at the Dyer campus during that season. Pastor Bob was officiating, and he asked me about getting breakfast before the ceremony to share about some conversations and thoughts he was having about special needs ministry.
Even though I wasn’t part of Faith Church at this time, Bob approached me very personally and pastorally. And while the impact of the conversation could have easily been centered around this new special needs ministry idea, it wasn’t… Bob could see I was struggling, and he asked me 3 questions that changed my life.
How are you doing medically? Have you talked to your doc? Have you talked to a counselor or professional? How are you doing physically? Are you exercising? How’s your diet? How are your sleeping habits? How are you doing spiritually? Are you staying close to the Lord in the highs and the lows? Do you have brothers in Christ who are encouraging and supporting you regularly?
You see, when I opened myself up to a pastor, I would’ve expected him to pull out a Bible and whack me over the head with it. Instead, I was met with a gentle, holistic, more-Christ-centered approach to my mental health battles.
Fast forward 7 years (to today). Do I still have days filled with darkness? Yes. Is joy still a decision that is sometimes difficult to make? Yes. Has my depression gone away completely? No (I wish). Do I still need check-in times with these 3 questions? Every week. Through it all, though, am I better than I was? Yes. Our Fresh Hope Mental Health Ministry has the mission statement of empowering individuals to “live well in spite of a mental health diagnosis.” For some of us, struggles are seasonal (up and down, here and there). For others (like me and many others I know), it’s a medically & physiologically chronic condition. But for all of us, it is possible to live well in spite of the struggles.
Another turning point in my journey was hearing a pastor vulnerably share at a conference about his own depression. His exhortation was: “It’s OK to not be OK. But it’s not OK to stay that way.” I pass this along as 2 separate words of encouragement to you. First, if you find yourself struggling, it’s OK. Just as you are, you are loved, you are valued, you are not a failure, and you are not alone in your struggles. Hear these words: “it’s OK.” Secondly, I’d ask you the same questions that Pastor Bob asked me 7 years ago: How are you doing medically? How are you doing physically? How are you doing spiritually? Do not let the answers to these questions overwhelm you nor lead you to despair, but start with one thing; and do not journey alone.
There is hope, friend.
Faith Church has a support group for those who have a mental health diagnosis as well as their families and loved ones called Fresh Hope. It is part of a national Christian association of support groups for those who have a mental health diagnosis and is a peer-to-peer led, safe, encouraging, and healing environment where real and life-changing healing takes place. For more information, please visit https://www.wearefaith.org/mentalhealth/
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