Your Faith is not Flawed: Embracing Mental Health as a Christian

In our shared devotion to Jesus and our shared love for language, my soul-sister and I have been each other’s rock for over a decade. It’s her deep kindness, encouragement, and heartfelt passion that inspires me – qualities she carries from life to the written word. When she penned her first book, I held Bonnie’s hand, praying for God’s words to flow through her fearlessly. Today, I am privileged to welcome her back as she shares wisdom from her own journey through anxiety and offers tips for finding joy and peace in God. Her latest book, “Breathe 21 Days to Stress Less and Transform Chaos to Calm,” might just be what we need to restore emotional calm and bodily peace in a world thirsting for beauty and rest.

Bonnie’s story is surprisingly common. Amidst what should have been one of the happiest times of her life, she was besieged by panic attacks and crippling insomnia. Here was a woman in a loving marriage with two wonderful sons, a woman who loved God and belonged to a tight-knit community, suddenly seized by unexplained bouts of panic.

Many well-intentioned people told her she was not praying enough or not applying Biblical teachings correctly, making the very mention of her emotional turmoil feel like a battle in itself. Despite their intentions, this left Bonnie feeling shamed for her emotional struggles. This shame, she would discover, was not born of a flaw in her faith, but of a misinterpretation of the relationship between mental health and faith.

Despite her turmoil, Bonnie longed to be perceived as unbroken. Yet, God was not interested in shaming her; He wanted to heal her.

Her therapist’s insights were startling: Trauma can often surface only after we’re removed from a stressful situation. Our bodies and minds are designed to protect us, to compartmentalize pain and distress until we’re safe enough to process them. This realization led Bonnie to the profound understanding that her faith was not faulty; instead, it was God’s way of saying it was time for her to heal.

Bonnie wishes to share three myths and truths she uncovered during her healing journey:

  1. Myth: Jesus said, “Do not worry,” making worry a sin. Truth: Jesus was simply encouraging us not to worry excessively about material needs, reminding us that God, as a merciful father, will provide for us.
  2. Myth: Trust in God brings peace and joy. If you lack peace or joy, your trust in God is insufficient. Truth: Being honest about your emotions is a deeper act of faith, it means presenting your real self to God, not concealing your feelings or pushing yourself to do or be more.
  3. Myth: Regular prayer, Bible reading, praise, thanksgiving, and joy will bring peace that surpasses understanding. Truth: Faith is not about forgetting emotional turmoil; it’s about having the courage to confront life’s brokenness and heal from the losses we’ve endured.

Bonnie also shares a calming, simple breathing exercise that she calls a “breathe prayer.” First, write down God’s promises from Scripture. Then, breathe in, reciting “I cast all my cares upon you,” and breathe out, saying “Because you care for me.” In doing so, you’ll breathe in God’s love and exhale your worries.

Healing with Jesus may look different for each of us. It might mean being more honest in prayer, setting healthy boundaries in stressful relationships, or seeking help from a Christian therapist. Regardless of the form it takes, remember this: God is close to the brokenhearted, He saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18, NIV). You are His beloved child, and He will give you the strength to heal.

In closing, I invite you to pray: “Jesus, please give me courage to take steps to heal today. Thank you for loving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”